How to - Diffuse Essential Oils

  • 23 May 2019


Diffusing Essential Oils is one of the most popular ways of using essential oils. And can be one of the safest.

But what exactly is diffusion and how does it work?



Diffusion is the process of using an appliance to disperse small particles of essential oils into the air.  Their effects are felt when we breathe in those essential oil particles and they act on our bodies, minds and emotions.



How to Diffuse Essential oils


Diffusion has long been popular, using everything from the classic essential oil “burner” with a small container of water over a candle, through to various electric vaporisers and the currently very popular, ultrasonic diffusers. Ultrasonic diffusers come in many sizes, designs and qualities.  But they all work on the same principle of using ultrasonic vibrations to turn the water and essential oil in the unit into a cool vapour which is dispensed into the air.

It is important to use only pure essential oils in diffusers and vaporisers.  Synthetic or fragrance oils will not have the same therapeutic effects.  (Read how to make sure that your buying the real thing in this blog post

Also be wary of essential oils that have been diluted in a carrier oil.  These generally won’t work effectively due to the presence of the heavy carrier and may even damage your diffuser.



Benefits of Diffusing Essential Oils


The most obvious reason many people diffuse essential oils is simply to create a nice smell. Certainly essential oils can be preferable when compared to synthetic air fresheners.  But diffusing essential oils can have other benefits too.

Diffusing is generally a low dose general method of use so is ideal when used for effects for the whole family or household as everyone is breathing the same air.  Diffusing can create an uplifting atmosphere during stressful times, or a relaxing atmosphere at the end of the day.  Other uses include helping to make a healthier atmosphere in the cold and flu season. You can use a diffuser in a central open area of the home to benefit everyone, or in a single room for more localised benefits.


Diffusing essential oils is generally a very safe method of use but there are a few things to be aware of –

  • Make sure to follow the instructions for the appliance you are using.

  • Be cautious with the amount of essential oil you use.  Instructions for diffusers may recommend anything from 5 to 10 drops, but whether this amount is appropriate for you and your situation will depend on many factors.  Always start with fewer drops if in doubt – you can always add more but it is harder to remedy the situation if you use too much!

  • Be cautious about diffusing near anyone with allergies or sensitivities. Not everyone tolerates fragrances even when they are natural.  

  • Children and babies can be more affected than adults, so if you have little ones in your house be prepared to reduce the amounts of essential oils you use.

  • Diffusing continuously is not generally recommended.  Not only will you get used to an aroma – and therefore potentially get less benefit from it - but it is possible to overdo an essential oil and set yourself up for an adverse reaction.  Taking regular breaks from diffusing is a very good idea.  I generally recommend at least 1 hour break for every 2 hours diffusing. But shorter diffusion times maybe more appropriate for some situations.

  • Many people like to diffuse overnight to help with sleep.  This can be beneficial for some, but for children I recommend only running a diffuser for 30mins to 1 hour before bed and then turning the diffuser off.

  • Remember that there will be essential oil in the air for some time after the diffuser stops so the effects of using a diffuser can still continue after you turn it off.



Diffusing is one of the easiest ways to explore the benefits of aromatherapy and a great starting place for those new to essential oils.



The information in the blog is intended for general use only and does not take into account any individual's particular needs, circumstances or risk factors.  If you are uncertain whether the information provided in this blog is appropriate for you, please consult a professional aromatherapist or a health practitioner with specific aromatherapy training.


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