Diffuser vs . Humidifier – Which Should You Buy?

When helping people get into essential oils, we often get the question, should I get a diffuser or humidifier and what’s the huge difference between the two?

The difference is that diffusers are generally smaller devices designed to be used with essential oils, while humidifiers are typically larger devices designed to regulate the moisture level in the air. When considering whether to purchase a diffuser or humidifier, note that it’s not recommended to utilize essential oils with a humidifier.

Important thing Up Front:

What is a  Diffuser?

Diffusers come in a variety of types, shapes, and sizes. They’re used for diffusing essential oils into the air for aromatherapy purposes.   Do not confuse a  humidifier  with an essential oil  diffuser. Diffusers are different from humidifiers in that they are specifically designed to take drops of crucial oils, mix the oils with the water in their tanks, and distribute. You will find four types of essential oil diffusers: the ultrasonic diffuser, nebulizing diffuser, heat diffusers and evaporative diffusers.

They are designed for vaporizing a fine mist utilising the essential oils with a cold effect to aromatize the room area. girl sleeping with a pink ultrasonic diffuser working in the foreground Pros of Diffusers

  • Diffusers work nicely for enhancing the mood within a room by distributing important oils.
  • The cool mist can have a purifying effect on the air around the diffuser.
  • The oil diffused in diffusers results in a fine mist that can be absorbed by your skin to have a relaxing or stimulating effect. This is particularly useful if you have dry skin.
  • Diffusers can decrease the amount of bacteria and fungus in an area, which are known to trigger health issues.
  • The cool mist of a diffuser can help you breathe better and reduce snoring with the help of certain oils.
  • Diffusers usually come with special lighting features, such as a color changing LED light, which works well for alleviating mind fatigue and elevating levels of energy.

Cons of Diffusers

  • Diffusers can be a little high priced, but if you are seeking to use essential oils in the air you should do so with a proper diffuser.
  • Some diffusers that come with an  LIGHT EMITTING DIODE light or other lighting features can’t be adjusted, which may interfere with sleep. (We recommend getting a model where you can adjust the lighting feature. )
  • Some diffusers can be noisy.
  • Frequently diffusers have an inferior water tank than a true humidifier.
  • Your aroma diffuser should be used only with distilled water, not tap water, for the best benefits to your quality of life and well-being.

Depending on your needs you can have a diffuser that operates in both ways    as a diffuser and a humidifier, or you can purchase them as separate units. The trend now is to use a multipurpose diffuser that does both functions – diffuse and humidify.

What is a  Humidifier?

A humidifier is a device designed to keep a set level of moisture in the room area.

Moisturizing the air in a room is needed in dry climates, and in some climates if the heat is switched on in the fall and wintertime. Dry air can cause difficulties with dry skin, bacterial and viral issues, and make it harder for people to drift off. Many people use a humidifier for treating the symptoms of colds, flu, and sinus congestion.

Humidifiers are different from important oils diffusers because most humidifiers in today’s market do not support the mixing of essential oils for distribution in the air.   Because most humidifiers in the market right now have plastic components, this makes them incompatible with essential oils. The oils, specially citrus ones, can break down the plastic components of this device.

Your crucial oils are dispersed with a nebulizing diffuser, which makes it easier for you to inhale it and your body to absorb it. A humidifier will not work in a similar way and will only disperse the oils in the air, although not nebulize it.

A few humidifiers are designed to work both as a humidifier and a diffuser, and we’re seeing more of these models hit the marketplace as it’s a growing trend. But today if you should be looking to distribute important oils in the air, we still recommend choosing a small personal diffuser that’s suitable for using with essential oils.

baby sleeping with a remedies diffuser working in background
Pros of Humidifiers

  • Treats dry air with the addition of moisture in the form of a warm mist.
  • A warm mist humidifier benefits the lining of the nose with the added moisture, relieving sinus problems, sore throat, dry cough, and dry skin.
  • Brings welcome relief for those suffering from asthma and allergies.
  • Both cool-mist humidifiers and warm mist humidifiers will help with snoring as it eases the harshness of the air breathed in during sleep.
  • The best moisture level keeps wood furniture from cracking and papers from drying out.
  • An air humidifier requires minimal maintenance and cleaning.
  • Both a warm mist humidifier and a cool-mist humidifier operate with tap water.

Cons  of Humidifiers

  • Cleaning and maintenance is required to keep the appliance running smoothly.
  • Not specifically designed to be used with essential oils and can be damaged if used together.
  • Can be noisy.

How Do I Know if I Need a Humidifier?

If you aren’t sure if you need a humidifier, there are  humidity readers you can purchase that will read and monitor the humidity degrees of the air. It’s recommended indoor air remain in the range between  40 to 60 percent for optimal wellbeing.

In the event that you aren’t sure if you need a humidifier, we recommend purchasing one of these brilliant humidity readers first to know if you need to treat the air with an increase of moisture. It’s possible you may be over the 60% recommended humidity level  and need to remove humidity from the air with a dehumidifier.

Diffuser vs . Humidifier

We’ve gone over what diffusers and humidifiers are already, but diffuser terminology can nevertheless be quite confusing. If you’re new to essential oils, you may be wondering whether a diffuser and humidifier could be the same thing and what the main differences are.

The unit may look fairly similar, but there are several legitimate differences that could affect your purchase.

Tank Size

There are many forms of these humidifiers, but in order to help with all the current problems dry air can cause, they need a bigger tank than a diffuser. In order to raise the humidity level throughout the entire room, humidifiers need a large water tank, usually holding of a gallon of water.

In comparison, essential oil diffusers hold a maximum of 300-500mL of water, if they even hold water at all. You can choose an ultrasonic diffuser to spray mist, but it won’t hold nearly as much water as a humidifier.

Using Water

Different types of diffusers have different requirements to function. Not all diffusers use water, so if you’re seeking to gain the maximum healing properties from your important oils, you’ll want a nebulizing diffuser  like the Urpower diffuser. These don’t use water at all  since they’re designed to provide you with the utmost benefits from your oils.

If you opt to use a popular aromatherapy diffuser, like the DoTerra diffuser another ultrasonic diffuser, you’ll have to use distilled water rather than tap water for best results. The ultrasonic technology creates ultrasonic vibrations through the water that diffuse the essential oils into the air. The ultrasonic diffuser system requires distilled water to ensure there is no mineral buildup, which occurs frequently when plain tap water is used.

Which Can you Recommend I Buy?

If your main concern is maintaining an optimal humidity level in your air, we recommend getting a humidity reader and humidifier because they are created specifically for this.

If your main purpose is to distribute essential oils in the air, we recommend getting an essential oil diffuser specifically designed for this specific purpose. See our full guide on the most effective essential oil diffusers for more.

Top Two Diffusers

If you’re buying diffuser that will fulfill your needs, there are tons of these out there. It may feel impossible to choose only one, but to get you started, check out these two top choices.

URPOWER second Version Essential Oil Diffuser Aroma Essential Oil Cool Mist Humidifier

This aroma diffuser produces more mist than its previous version, making it perfect to add moist and calming air to anywhere in your home or workspace. You can set this small diffuser anywhere, add your important oils and watch because it scrolls through 7 LED light colors.

It can hold up to 100mL of distilled water, meaning that it will run for about 6 hours and will shut off automatically to protect you and the unit.


  • The top will lock so that the oil doesn’t spill
  • The simple settings and buttons make it simple for anyone to operate
  • Extremely quiet and will not frustrate you during the night


  • It is difficult to twist off and on when you’re filling it
  • Water spills usually when twisting the cap on and off
  • The plastic sides make it tough to get a grip onto it when you’re filling it

InnoGear Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Ultrasonic Cool Mist Diffuser

If you’re looking for a small aromatherapy diffuser that can fit anywhere, this diffuser by InnoGear is one of the best. It has a beautiful wood-grain appearance with a Zen style that will fit any space at home.

Fill it up with up to 200mL of distilled water and just press the switch to change the mist to high or low, or alter the duration of the misting. Turn on the 7 LED lights and adjust the operation time. You can allow it to run for 1, 3, or 6 hours, or keep it on constantly.

Once it’s out of water, the auto shut-off function kicks in.


  • Produces a steady and strong misting experience.
  • An easy task to operate and very quiet.
  • Holds enough water that you don’t need certainly to fill it up constantly.


  • Will stop working if you do not clean it immediately.
  • May burn out quickly.
  • Folks have had trouble getting hired to work properly at times.

Top Two Humidifiers

There are a wide variety of types of humidifiers to select from– germ-free humidifier, console humidifier, ultrasonic humidifier, and the cool-mist humidifier and warm mist humidifier to name a few. With so many options that your head might start spinning. Start with those two top humidifiers to get your hunt started for one that will work for you.

Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

The cool-mist ultrasonic technology in this MistAire ultrasonic humidifier can keep working for up to 16 hours of continuous operation. Let this humidifier work while you sleep on high or low-speed settings.

Just fill the 1 . 5-liter water tank with tap water, turn on the optional night light and rest easy knowing that when the water runs low, this humidifier has an auto shut-off function.


  • People love how big is the humidifier for the price
  • Extremely quiet, so it can be used even in children’s rooms
  • Very easy to use and operate


  • There’s no filtration system, so you’ll have to clean it out manually
  • It takes plenty of effort to actually clean it out weekly
  • The LED light button is very bright and does not turn off

PurStream Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier- Superior Humidifying Unit with Whisper-Quiet Operation

Just because you’re buying a humidifier doesn’t mean it takes to be bland and ugly. The PurStream Ultrasonic humidifier has a functional and stylish design, with a variable control knob to change the humidity settings.

It can continue operating for up to 17 hours with its repayments 2-liter water tank and a night light. If you have it running while you’re sleeping, rest assured the auto shut-off will kick in, and it will switch off once the water gets low, so you’ll stay safe.


  • Very intuitive and easy to use
  • You’re able to turn the light off and on and can still sleep since it’s so quiet
  • Easy to fill and move it around


  • The knobs often break easily
  • There is no handle to hold onto the water tank while you’re filling it
  • There have been issues with it breaking down after a few uses

When trying to decide between a humidifier or aromatherapy diffuser, there’s a lot to consider. The main point to keep in mind is that if you’re looking to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, nebulizing diffusers are best.. If you’re looking to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of having an ideal humidity level in your home, ultrasonic humidifiers are the way to go.

If you have trouble choosing between the different types of humidifiers and different types of diffusers, purchase both a humidifier and diffuser for the best benefits to your health and well-being.

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