Humidifiers play a very important role in our lives. Almost every home has at least one of them, which is extremely useful in the cold season. Aromatherapy has also started to become an important part of our daily lives. The big question is: can you put essential oils in a humidifier? How does it all work?
In this post, you’ll be reading more about:
- The most frequently asked questions about putting essential oils in a humidifier. The pros and cons of using them together, plus the benefits of Aromatherapy in general.
- Best alternative to use to enjoy the full potential and benefits of essential oils. With other helpful tips and details.
Can You Put Essential Oils in a Humidifier? Frequently Asked Questions
The dilemma comes from the fact that a humidifier looks very much like an essential oil diffuser. Some of them use the same technology as well. This topic is an important step in every person’s education in Aromatherapy.
As a consequence, I’ve put up together a section of popular questions and answers. Read them all to find out whether it’s safe to use essential oils in your humidifier, or not.
1) What is a humidifier?
A humidifier is a small portable device that creates cold or warm mist. This mist is made of very fine water particles, pushed out into the environment. The purpose of a humidifier is to humidify the air.
We need moist air for many reasons, but the main one is to keep our respiratory system healthy. You now know that essential oils can also help with that. It’s only natural to want to combine the two to reap the most of their benefits.
2) Why do we need a humidifier?
The cold season, which in many countries, is a very long one, causes the air humidity to drop to dangerous levels. These levels of dry air in the atmosphere are dangerous not only to your health but to the furniture also.
The sole purpose of a humidifier is to add moisture to dry and very dry air. In doing so, it manages to also:
- Prevent nose drying.
- Soothe and keep the throat lining moist as well.
- Keep the sinuses moist and make it easier to breathe.
- Soothe joint pain.
- Protect the furniture and prevent it from cracking, loosening or shrinking.
- Protect paintings and other papers from becoming too dry and brittle.
- Deal with static electricity (clinging fabrics and dust particles).
Dry air can be very damaging to us and our material possessions. Using a humidifier can balance things up and keep everything working properly.
Types of humidifier
The best technology used by a humidifier is the ultrasonic one. A very thin membrane is set underneath the water tank. When you turn the device on, the ultrasonic sounds start moving the membrane. This membrane then causes water to break into very fine particles.
An inside fan will evacuate the water particles into the air. You’ll recognize this process as mist. An ultrasonic essential oil diffuser uses the same technology. It’s made of more resistant materials though and the design is also a bit different.
It needs to have a stronger engine and well-positioned orifices. Essential oils can block/clog the device and affect the way the mist comes out. They can also damage the water tank material.
In other words, humidifiers are not built for essential oil diffusion and vice versa. Aromatic diffusers are focused on dispersing oil molecules more than they are on producing mist.
Mist can be warm or cold. If it’s warm, it means the device boils water. Adding essential oil to such a humidifier can only damage the oil properties. Heat breaks down some of the beneficial molecules of the oils. Thus, it decreases the health effects of the oil.
Because of this reason, you can’t use a Vicks vaporizer with essential oils either. Thus, the answer to “can I put essential oils in a Vicks humidifier?” is no. A vaporizer uses heat to boil the water and releases warm mist.
Therefore, you can’t add essential oils to a vaporizer because the heat will destroy much of their properties.
But can you put essential oils into a cool mist humidifier? Theoretically, you can because the technology is safe for oil diffusion. In practice though, it depends on the way the device was built and if it allows for oil use too.
So, can you put essential oils in a humidifier? Theoretically, you could say that ultrasonic humidifiers are safer for essential oils. They don’t use heat so the oil properties stay intact. However, the water particles can also dilute the potency of the oil.
I’d say that you could add a drop or two of essential oils in a baby humidifier. But this implies a new set of rules and guidelines.
During essential oils diffusion, you mustn’t keep the humidifier on for more than 20 minutes. Also, you should do so when the baby or child is not in the room. Check out this article for more details on how to diffuse oils around babies.
I understand that you want to use essential oils in a humidifier for congestion. First, make sure that the device uses ultrasonic sounds. Always use a very small amount (up to 2 drops) to avoid clogging your humidifier.
This amount may not be effective in decongesting your nose or preventing viral infections though.
Other types of humidifiers use technologies like:
- A fan that blows air over a wet wick (evaporative humidifier).
- A rotating disk that helps to produce mist (impeller humidifier).
Each type of humidifier comes with warnings on whether they can be used with essential oils or not. Keep in mind that in choosing to use oils in a humidifier, you’ll most likely shorten its shelf life.
Humidifiers, just like Aroma diffusers, can cover different area sizes. A baby humidifier will be less powerful and can only cover a small room, for example.
3) Can you use essential oils in a humidifier?
Like I said, using essential oils in a humidifier is possible but it’s not recommended. Humidifiers and essential oil diffusers are two separate products. When a product is built for a specific task, it’ll perform that task impeccably.
Forcing the device to perform more than what it was built for will eventually lead to it not working properly anymore.
There are some reputable manufacturers that give safety tips to all their customers. For example, can I put essential oils in my Crane humidifier? I see this question asked a lot on the internet.
This forced the company to address this matter with an answer. The Crane company does not recommend using essential oils in their diffusers.
They also sell special humidifiers with a built-in system for oil diffusion. That is the one you should buy if you want to diffuse Aromatherapy and humidify the air at the same time.
The cons of using essential oils in a humidifier:
- A high concentration of essential oils can ruin the humidifier. This usually happens with regular use.
- Thick essential oils (e.g.: Patchouli) or absolutes (Rose, Vanilla, etc.) can clog the device.
- Some essential oils (like citruses) can erode plastic materials. Humidifier water tanks are usually made from plastic.
- With a humidifier, the dispersing of oil molecules is not very effective. As a result, their diffusion may settle as oily and sticky residues on the furniture.
There are no special essential oils for humidifiers. Generally speaking, you’ll only waste your oils if you use them in humidifiers. Your body will not inhale enough to feel their beneficial effects. The little you do inhale will also be diluted and weak.
At best, you can simply change the smell of a room. On the other hand, the weak effect of an oil diffused with a humidifier can be used for babies. They’re much more sensitive than us and essential oils are very potent substances.
4) What are the Benefits of Diffusing Essential Oils in Your Home?
Just because you can’t put essential oils in a humidifier, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them at all. There are many simple ways of diffusing Aromatherapy in your home or working place.
From a simple, portable roll-on blend to a cotton pad or nebulizer, your options are vast.
Essential oils are very concentrated liquid plant extracts. They are steam distilled from different plant parts (leaves, bark, roots, etc.) and they all have different properties. Each essence is unique in its chemical composition.
Some may do the same thing (e.g.: help heal wounds), but they do it differently. The active oil molecules can stimulate all sorts of physiological processes to enhance our health.
Aromatherapy oils are volatile. This means they evaporate and disperse into the atmosphere very fast. Once you open a bottle of oil, you’ll feel its scent in a few seconds. That scent means you’ve already gotten active molecules inside your body.
Essential oils can:
- Help you relax by relieving tension from the muscles.
- Soothe an agitated mind.
- Help you sleep by relaxing your nervous system.
- Lower the heart rhythm.
- Increase or decrease the blood pressure.
- Relieve anxiety.
- Relieve pain.
- Soothe muscle cramps.
- Kill bacteria and viruses, thus protect from viral infections.
- Disinfect and refresh the air.
- Create a nicer ambiance inside a room.
Even if they are natural, essential oils come with safety warnings too. Some of them can interact with drugs. Others can trigger asthma attacks, seizures or respiratory arrest. Some can make you very sleepy and others very agitated.
For example, putting Peppermint essential oil in a humidifier may be very damaging for babies. It can cause them respiratory problems.
Another example is the all-popular VapoRub. Many people are asking whether you can put VapoRub in a humidifier or not. The answer is no! You can’t put VapoRub in a humidifier.
VapoRub is an ointment that’s rubbed onto an affected skin area. Ointments have fatty acids and waxes in their composition. Regardless of how fragrant they are, they don’t evaporate.
They can only clog the humidifier and the aroma diffuser. No essential oil blend (carrier + essential oil) can be added to a diffuser because of the same reason. No matter how high-performance the device is, a carrier oil will always clog.
In conclusion, for safety reasons, every new essence must be well-researched in advance. Check out the pros and cons of the oil you’re interested in before using it. This is especially important if you have kids or pets around.
Whether it’s in a humidifier or a diffuser, always use small amounts of essential oils. Check out the guidelines for a new humidifier to use it properly.
So, can you add essential oils to a humidifier? Technically, you could but it’s not what they were built for. This means they’re less effective and you could end up wasting precious oils.
Best Way to Diffuse and Enjoy Essential Oils (Alternative)
When it comes to humidifiers and essential oils, they don’t really work well together. Every now and then, though, if you really want to, you can add a drop or two of the essence.
But the best way to diffuse essential oils is to use an aroma diffuser instead. What is an aromatherapy diffuser? It’s a device that looks very much like a humidifier. Its purpose, though, is to break down oil molecules and disperse them efficiently into the air.
Can you use an essential oil diffuser as a humidifier? An oil diffuser is not built to add moisture to a room. However, some of them (e.g.: ultrasonic diffusers) can add a bit of moisture to very small rooms.
Because they use water, they create a cold mist (water droplets attached to oil droplets). These droplets disperse very easily.
If you want a 2 in 1 product, you can find an essential oil humidifier diffuser. For a while, that may be enough to satisfy your curiosity or need. For example, if you want to diffuse oils in a large room, you’ll need a strong diffuser. The humidifier won’t cut it anymore.
Some of the best diffusers are nebulizers. They use the atomizing technology, meaning there’s no water or heat involved. They only diffuse microscopic oil droplets. This also means the air will be charged with a stronger oil concentration.
With nebulizers, you usually need to use more aromatic oil. If the device, however, is high quality, you can diffuse only 5 drops and cover a large area.
Aromatherapy diffusers are great alternatives to putting essential oils in a humidifier. They can also be portable, which means you can enjoy the benefits of your favorite oils on the go. That, unfortunately, means there will be no moisture around.
No portable diffuser can add moisture because they don’t use water. For example, think about jewelry diffusers, which you can learn more about here.
Can you put essential oils in a humidifier? I’ve made this post to give this question a detailed answer. Now you know why it’s not a good idea to put essential oils in a humidifier. Not that it can’t work (for a short period of time, anyway), but because it can’t do so effectively.
To enjoy the full range of health benefits of essential oils, you need an aroma diffuser. You need an ultrasonic or a nebulizer for better coverage. Or you can go for an inhaler, a roll-on or direct inhalation from the bottle.
Have you ever tried using essential oils in your humidifier? Did you find it a nice experience or you’d rather go for the diffuser instead?