An aromatherapy diffuser is a device that dissipates essential oils and solutions into the air gradually for use in aromatherapy.
A high-quality aromatherapy diffuser will slowly and steadily diffuse the intended aroma, and its biologically active ingredients, into the air, achieving a steady-state of air infused with plant essential oils or other target compounds for aromatherapy.
Choosing the right aromatherapy diffuser can be overwhelming, but our research team has evaluated and ranked the ten best options on the market to choose from.
1. URPOWER 300ml Diffuser
URPOWER makes a popular and much-beloved 300ml aromatherapy diffuser that is perfect for small to medium-sized rooms.
It’s ultra-quiet and has a tiny footprint, making it great for tiny apartments and small bedrooms. It can be set to diffuse for one hour, three hours, six hours, or continuously.
Thanks to its versatility and ease of use, it’s an excellent choice and is our number one pick.
2. Asakuki 500ml Premium Diffuser
Asakuki makes a great high-capacity aromatherapy diffuser that uses ultrasound technology for whisper-quiet operation.
It’s one of the best choices out there if you are looking for a diffuser that can handle a large volume of essential oil solution. Most users won’t need such a high capacity, but for those who do, this is a fantastic product: It has two different flow rates for diffusion, as well as four different modes: a continuous mode, plus timers for one, two, and three hours.
Moreover, this diffuser doubles as a humidifier, meaning you can run it on plain water to increase the moisture content of the air in your room.
3. InnoGear 200ml Aromatherapy Diffuser
InnoGear makes a small but powerful 200ml aromatherapy diffuser that has a larger footprint but a low overall height.
It’s got multicolored LEDs, though this function can be turned off if you prefer. You can use a one, three, or six-hour timer, and the controls are easy to set and easy to use.
The wide base and water tank make it particularly easy to clean, which is a distinct advantage over taller and narrower aromatherapy diffusers.
4. The Essential Wellness Diffuser
The Essential Wellness Diffuser is an incredibly popular and simple aromatherapy diffuser that’s got a small footprint and a 300 ml liquid capacity.
This aromatherapy diffuser has one, three, and six-hour timer settings, as well as the ability to run until the water runs out (which takes about eight hours for a full tank). If you only have a small room that you want to diffuse essential oils into, this is a very solid pick.
5. Syntus 160 mL Diffuser
Syntus makes a great 160 mL aromatherapy diffuser that is made with real bamboo wood and has a tiny footprint, meaning it won’t take up much countertop or tabletop space.
It has four different modes: a continuous mist, a pulsed interval mist, a one-hour timer, and a two-hour timer. These last two functions are great for using aromatherapy at night, since you can set the timer as you go to bed and you won’t wake up to a room that’s oversaturated with essential oils.
6. Aromis Orbis Nox Merus Diffuser
For a truly quiet and powerful diffuser, give Aromis Orbis Nox Merus a shot. This diffuser is really a nebulizer, meaning it atomizes essential oils directly, instead of diluting them in water first.
Though it seems tiny, this diffuser packs a powerful punch. So much so, in fact, that it might be a bit much if you are just looking to lighten the aroma of your room somewhat—it could be a bit overpowering.
However, if your objective is to take full advantage of the benefits of aromatherapy, this nebulizer is particularly well-suited for this application. It’s rated for very large rooms, and you can even adjust the intensity of the flow so it matches the room size.
7. Asakuki Smart Diffuser
Always a market leader, Asakuki has come out with the best “smart diffuser,” an upgraded version of their 500 ml diffuser that connects via wifi to smart home hubs like Amazon Alexa.
This means that you can control your aromatherapy diffuser through your smartphone, and even activate or deactivate it with voice commands.
Aromatherapy isn’t exactly the kind of service you’d think of as a component of a smart home, but the idea will definitely appeal to a small subset of aromatherapy enthusiasts.
8. Vitruvi Stone Diffuser
The Vitruvi Stone Diffuser uses a high-quality ceramic body to keep your aromatherapy liquid in contact with only inert materials. It has a tiny footprint and a smooth, distinct aesthetic, making it stand out from both a functional and decorative perspective.
The capacity is small, at 100 ml, but if you are using it in a small room or using it only for a few hours, that’s plenty of liquid.
The only downside is the fairly limited timer capacity, which limits you to either a three-hour timer or seven hours of intermittent misting. These technological limitations push it a bit further down in the rankings, but from a materials and aesthetic perspective, it’s still a high-quality product.
9. MIU Color Diffuser
The MIU Color Diffuser comes with a sleek, black, modern design and has multicolored LED lighting that gives it a very distinctive futuristic look. The controls are touch-operated, so there aren’t any buttons or dials protruding out of the unit.
While not everyone is looking for this kind of distinction, it’s a nice break from the fairly muted and natural designs of most other aromatherapy diffusers.
The timer functions leave a bit to be desired, as you can only set it for four or eight hours of continuous misting. Shorter use times can only be done by manually remembering to turn off the unit after the desired duration.
10. Organic Aromas Raindrop 2.0
Organic Aromas Raindrop 2.0 is another nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser. It’s incredibly small, but can fill even a fairly large room by virtue of its ability to atomize pure essential oils directly.
It has the advantage of containing all of the oils in a glass vial, so there is no plastic that comes into contact with the oil during the atomization process.
However, the small size and all-glass construction means that it can be a bit finicky, and users have had issues with small parts breaking off or failing to work as desired.
If you need strong aromatherapy, but only on occasion, it’s a solid pick, but otherwise, you might want to opt for something that can handle heavier use.
Who Should Buy An Aromatherapy Diffuser?
Aromatherapy dispensers are safe for individuals of any age and should be considered by persons who want in crease their mental health, via aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy also helps pain and sleep, so those persons who suffer from those issues, should consider it.
Anyone with an extremely small living space or living in a poorly ventilated area should consider not using an aromatherapy diffuser.
How We Ranked
There are two main types of diffusers on the market: ultrasonic diffusion or by cold fogging nebulization, with the vast majority of diffusers being ultrasonic. Ultrasonic mist diffusers are engineered to emit high-frequency vibrations that produce a light mist from the water, which then disperese the essentail oils into the air.
Ultrasonic diffusers, like URPOWER and Asakuki, tend to be more durable than nebulizers (making them perfect to have around pets and children) and are very quiet. They are perfect for creating an olfactive ambiance in addition to producing a lovely visual effect.
Cold nebulizers, like Organic Aromas Raindrop 2.0 and Aromis Orbis Nox Merus don’t use water. This type of diffuser will nebulize, with a sophisticated pump, essential oils into air molecules. The airflow causes the extracted essential oils to be thrown in fine droplets against the side of the glassware. Some of the droplets fall back and are recycled, the finest escaping from the top of the glassware and spreading into the air.
The diffuser by nebulization allows for taking full advantage of the quality and active principles of essentials oils. However, they tend to be significantly more fragile and expensive than ultrasound diffusers, which be an issue for some.
Diffusers that use heat in the form of candles, hot plates or steam, did not make the list. This is because the heat used to evaporate the oils into the air changes the chemicals and renders them useless form a therapeutic standpoint.
We also looked at the travel capabilities of aromatherapy diffusers. While not a great importance, aromatherapy diffusers that were portable, like the Essential Wellness diffuser, did earn a few extra points.
Lastly, we wanted diffusers that had an automatic shut-off feature, or at the very least a set timer. This last part was essential because diffusing oils for too long can cause a lot of issues, including headaches and even lung irritation. Any product that didn’t have a shut-off feature or timer was eliminated.
Aromatherapy diffuser benefits and side effects
An aromatherapy diffuser is an electronic device that uses either ultrasound or specialized fluid flow to release essential oils into the air for the purpose of aromatherapy.
A high-quality diffuser will release a continuous stream of mist, evenly dispersing essential oils into the air. Most aromatherapy diffusers today use ultrasonic waves in a water tank to generate mist without creating excessive heat; the result is a quiet but steady stream of mist, which transports essential oils such as rose oil or tea tree oil into the air.
Some diffusers, called nebulizers, use a special nozzle to atomize essential oil directly, meaning it does not need to be diluted into water.
Here’s a run-down on the specific benefits and side effects of aromatherapy diffusers and aromatherapy generally.
Aromatherapy can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety in the short term. Aromatherapy as a practice involves the careful selection of specific essential oils and breathing them in for a set amount of time by using a diffuser.
Aromatherapy has long been a part of alternative and complementary medicine practice, but it’s become increasingly used in large clinical studies as a potential way to improve mood.
One such study was published in 2007 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology by a team of researchers in the United Kingdom (1).
The study examined aromatherapy as a potential way to reduce anxiety and depression among patients with cancer over a ten-week period.
Compared to a standard supportive care treatment, aromatherapy with massage had a strong initial effect on anxiety and depression, though these benefits were not evident after ten weeks.
The evidence from this study suggests that the benefits of aromatherapy are strongest in the short term, and aren’t as much of a long-term fix.
Aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep quality in older adults. A study conducted in Korea and published in 2013 in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effects of aromatherapy (specifically, a blend of lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli) compared to conventional nursing care on the sleep quality and anxiety status of older adult patients in an intensive care unit (2).
The researchers found that the aromatherapy treatment was associated with both better sleep quality and a reduction in anxiety.
As you might guess, the authors hypothesized that these effects were interrelated—one of the chief problems in people experiencing anxiety is a disruption in sleep quality.
Since exposure to too much essential oil can cause headaches, using aromatherapy for help with sleep quality is best done using an aromatherapy diffuser that has a timer setting.
Many of the top-rated diffusers can be set to one, two, or three-hour timers, making them well-suited for helping to improve sleep quality.
Using aromatherapy with lavender could reduce acute pain. One interesting study published in the journal Pain Practice demonstrated the impressive range of potential applications for aromatherapy (3).
The study used lavender essential oil in an aromatherapy treatment for patients who were returning to consciousness following surgery. Compared to standard post-operative procedures, the research team found that the lavender essential oil treatment was able to reduce self-reported pain by a significant amount.
Though pain relief is a less-studied area of aromatherapy, the promise shown by initial pilot studies such as this one indicate that both acute and chronic pain could be useful avenues for future applications of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is typically thought of as an alternative and complementary medicine treatment, but that does not mean it is exempt from side effects.
A review article published in 2012 in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine examined case reports of patients who experienced negative side effects from aromatherapy in an effort to catalog and characterize the risk profile (4).
The authors identified the most common side effects as dermatitis, blistering, and eczema, which they attributed to an allergic reaction triggered by natural plant compounds present in the essential oils.
The oils that were most commonly associated with negative side effects were lavender, peppermint, tea tree oil, and ylang-ylang, though it’s not clear to what extent this is merely a reflection of how commonly these particular essential oils are used.
Regardless, it’s always a good idea to watch out for signs of an allergic reaction, such as skin itching, irritation, redness, or rashes, and if these reactions occur, discontinue aromatherapy.
What does an aromatherapy diffuser do? Aromatherapy diffusers create a cool mist that gently adds essential oils into the air you breathe.
What are the different types of aromatherapy diffusers? There are 2 main types of diffusers on the market: ultrasonic diffusion or by cold fogging nebulization. Diffusers that used heat, like steam diffusers, candle diffusers, or hot plate diffusers, are also available, but not recommended.
Why are heat aromatherapy diffusers not recommended? Heat aromatherapy diffusers are not recommend because the heat used to evaporate the oils into the air, changes the chemicals and renders them useless form a therapeutic standpoint.
How does ultrasonic diffusion work? The ultrasonic diffuser is designed to emit high frequency vibrations that produce a light mist from the water, which then diffuses the essential oils into the air.
How does nebulization work? This type of diffuser will nebulize, with a sophisticated pump, essential oils into air molecules (no water is needed). This type of diffuser allows for taking full advantage of the quality and active principles of essentials oils.
Can aromatherapy dispenser oils be dangerous? Normally, aromatherapy dispenser oils are perfectly safe and can be a fantastic option for improving your health and elevating your mood (5). There are a things to be aware of. First, you need to be aware of photosensitive oils. Oils like bergamot and angelica, for example, are extremely sensitive to light and using these oils in the sun can be very dangerous. Aromatherapy dispensers actually decrease the danger associated with using these oils in your routine by ensuring that you’re inhaling them and not taking them out into the sunlight.
Another dangerous thing is applying undiluted essential oils. In high concentrations, a lot of beneficial oils can actually irritate your skin and damage it.
What is the safest way to use essential oils? Inhalation, with an aromatherapy dispenser, is actually the safest method for using essential oils (6). It is also the quickest way to make sure these oils get into your bloodstream.
Can I leave my diffuser on overnight? No, there are a lot of potential consequences for leaving your diffuser on overnight.
Can breathing essential oils be harmful? Yes essential oils can cause bad reactions if used to often, even if you’re not sensitive or allergic to them originally.
Do I need to use a carrier oil in my aromatherapy diffuser to dilute the oil? No, never use carrier oils in your diffusers. Essential oils do not need carriers when being diffused. The process of diffusing the oils will naturally evaporate them, but vegetable oils don’t evaporate. The result will be that the carrier oil ends up ruining your diffuser by getting stuck in it.
How long will essential oils last when they are in the aromatherapy diffuser? Oil tends to oxidize very quickly once it gets exposed to air. When you diffuse it again after the first time, you will not have as powerful as a smell or the same benefits. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a great way to make them last longer, especially because the different properties of different oils mean that some will evaporate very quickly while others will last for quite a while.
Where should I put my aromatherapy diffuser? Aromatherapy diffusers can go almost anywhere as long as it’s placed in a ventilated area. Your circumstances will also dictate placement. If you have children or pets, you may need to place your diffuser somewhere high and out of reach, to avoid danger.
Why can’t I smell my diffuser? There are a few reasons, but the most common is bad oil. If you are using diluted or impure oil of low quality, then it may not be emitting a strong aroma because it is too diluted to be useful. If this is not the case, and you still can’t smell the oil, then perhaps you are misusing the diffuser. Check the instruction manual to ensure that you have properly set up the diffuser and placed the water and oil in the correct places. If this fails, then contact your manufacturer and they can probably help you figure out what your problem is.
Should you use an aromatherapy diffuser in a closed room? No, aromatherapy diffusers should not be used in a closed room. If you are in an enclosed space, the dose may become too concentrated and lead to other problems.
Should you set your diffuser to automatic or interval? You always want to set your diffuser for intervals rather than allowing it to run continuously, to avoid over saturation. You should let it run for 30 minutes at a time and then take a break.
Should pets inhale diffused aroma’s? Ideally not, because it is unclear whether its healthy for your pet or not. You’ll want to diffuse somewhere that your pets aren’t stuck.
Does an aromatherapy diffuser need cleaning? Yes, aromatherapy diffusers should be cleaned. You never want mold to grow in your diffuser, and thanks to the moisture involved, this is a real possibility if you are not taking the proper measures to care for and clean it. This mold will be blown into the air with your oils if you are not careful and you’ll end up inhaling it, which wreak all sorts of havoc.
Are there any oils that are unsuitable for my aromatherapy diffuser? Yes, certain oils are not ideal for an aromatherapy diffuser including peppermint, clove, araway, thyme, cinnamon, bay and lemongrass. These oils can irritate the mucous membrane and are better suited to dilution and application by ingestion or rubbing into your skin instead of breathing.
How does aromatherapy diffusion work? With diffusion, water gets heated which causes the oil and water to evaporate. When this happens, the essential oil molecules get released into the air in your room. Once the oil molecules have been diffused, you breathe them in. These molecules will reach your bloodstream at levels of 50 to 70% absorption. Diffusers work through heat or nebulizing, depending on your choice. A lot of them use oil burners, candles, and electricity to work. Some even use ultrasonic technology to atomize the particles.
How many drops of oil should I put in my aromatherapy diffuser? The recommended drops will vary greatly based on a a few factors. You need to consider how your diffuser works, the type of oil you are using, the reason you are diffusing oil, and the size of the room. Oils oxidize pretty quickly, so the best way to ensure your aromatherapy diffuser is working is to use fresh oils for every session. A lot of aromatic oils are extremely concentrated and their smell and effects are very powerful. If you have a light oil, like citrus, lavender, or pine, you will want to use somewhere between 5 to 15 drops.
You can add a lot more drops in large rooms and even mix some different oils together. Make sure to keep the room well ventilated while you diffuse the oils, though, because too much oil will cause headaches and nausea.
You also want to mix some heavier oils with lighter ones when you diffuse them. Creating this moderate oil amount will help prevent infections. Some good combinations we recommend are mixing sandalwood or frankincense with orange, or mixing cinnamon with grapefruit.
Aromatherapy is an effective way to improve your mood, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve sleep quality, and reduce pain.
A key part of any aromatherapy regimen is the aromatherapy diffuser itself. While most research to date uses water-based ultrasonic aromatherapy diffusers, some users are increasingly turning to more powerful nebulizers which can create a stronger and more concentrated atomized mist of essential oil.
The capacity of an aromatherapy diffuser only influences how long it can run, not the flow rate that it disperses mist, so the capacity of the tank you select has more to do with the total “dosage” of essential oils that you want to deliver, not necessarily the rate at which it is dispersed. Side effects of aromatherapy, like dermatitis, are typically attributable to allergic reactions to a specific essential oil.
Choosing a high quality aromatherapy diffuser can help you capitalize on the physical and mental health benefits of aromatherapy.
For Body Nutrition’s #1 aromatherapy dispenser, click here.