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How Do Essential Oil Diffusers Work?

Essential oils have been in use for millennia for their therapeutic properties. They were used for a number of conditions, such as curing mild insomnia, fungal infections, and even as a supplement to improve memory.

Today, the effects of essential oils are debatable, but it cannot be denied that they are widely used for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

There are many ways in which you can use essential oil, but a diffuser of some kind will always be at the dispensing end to give out just the right amount of oil.

In this post, we will discuss some of the major types of diffusers and how they work to give just the right amount of diffused essential oils. This will get you in the clear if you are planning on buying one and cannot decide which is the best for you!

Chains of bead diffusers

There are four major types of essential oil diffusers

There are four major types of essential oil diffusers:

  • Evaporative Diffusers
  • Nebulizing Diffusers
  • Ultrasonic Diffusers
  • Heat Diffusers

How Do Evaporative Diffusers Work?

As the name suggests, evaporative diffusion takes place to disperse essential oils into the environment. There are two major classes in evaporative diffusers: active and passive.

Active Evaporation

Active Evaporation

In this apparatus, essential oils are soaked in an absorbent material, such as a pad. Then, a small fan is used to blow air across its surface. This makes just the right amount of force that compels the oil molecules to escape the pad and change their state from liquid to vapors.

This setup offers a restricted output with frequent maintenance. You might have to change the pad often but there is no hassle of mixing water with oils for easy dispensation. It is due to these reasons that active evaporation devices are not as popular as their ultrasonic or nebulizing counterparts.

Passive Evaporation

Passive Evaporation

Passive evaporation means there is no direct mechanism that compels the liquid molecules to change their state. For instance, a reed diffuser is a prime example that utilizes capillary action. It has a porous structure that allows essential oils to escape the apparatus.

In the same fashion as that of a wick in a lantern, oil crawls up to the tip of the reed, from where it evaporates in the air.

You do not need water or any power source to get the action going, but the scent is not powerful enough to cover a large area.

Other popular examples of passive evaporation devices are oil necklaces and bracelets.

How Do Nebulizing Diffusers Work?

How Do Nebulizing Diffusers Work

If you want to see pure physics in action, a nebulizing diffuser is what you need. It works on the principle of fluid dynamics theory that was proposed by Bernoulli. The premise is called Bernoulli’s Principle.

This type of diffuser does not;

  • Require a water source.
  • Diffuse essential oils through water droplets.

The apparatus consists of a small tube. At high velocity, the air is passed through this tube in such a way that the pressure at the escaping end of the tube is lower than that of the entering end. This pressure-differential produces a suction-like effect that makes the oil crawl up at the tip of the tube.

With pressurized air throughout the tube, rising essential oil atomize, just like in an ultrasonic diffuser, and turn into a mist that disperses in a space without any aid from water.

How Do Ultrasonic Diffusers Work?

How Do Ultrasonic Diffusers Work

Essentially, ultrasonic diffusers dispense essential oils by making them in tiny water droplets.

The hardware is an ultrasonic plate that vibrates to turn water into vapors. Ultrasonic is that frequency range of sound waves which we cannot hear, so the whole apparatus is noiseless.

All this happens in a closed container that does not allow even water bubbles to escape from it without carrying oil droplets.

After turning water into vapors or mist, these water molecules are hurled into the container that carries essential oils. The wave motion is so much fast that the mixture of both oils and water changes into vapors and dispersed around the room.

These are considered to be the most efficient from the lot and offer a potent dosage of essential oils. On the downside, the apparatus is complicated and requires energy input for working.

What kind of water do you put in an essential oil diffuser?

The nature of water affects its ability to evaporate or carry other particles with it when it vaporizes. As a general rule of thumb, tap or bottled water is an excellent candidate with low price and exceptional value for money.

Many people use distilled water, but the practice is expensive. Also, distillation lessens the capabilities of water as a vector.

The best way to be sure about the nature of input water is by following the manual from the manufacturer of your diffuser.

How Do Heat Diffusers Work?

How Do Heat Diffusers Work

Heat diffusers belong to a more primitive class of diffusers. Somehow, it is more related to evaporative diffusers because it employs evaporation for excessive action. But they use heat, instead of a fan, that blows cool air to amplify evaporation.

Stripped to their bones, heat diffusers are simple and affordable, because all they require to produce heat is a burning candle. Yet, they come short on many aspects, including safety measures.

So, heat diffusers would continue to work until the wax is all burnt. They are hazardous because they use an open flame in closed spaces.

Another downside to heat diffusers is that they cause essential oils to break down. This gives room for impurities to settle in with the oils and translated into unpleasant odors, which kills the purpose of having an oil diffuser in the first place.

For the pure enthusiasts who use expensive oils, it is best to skip this option and go for an ultrasonic or a nebulizing diffuser.

Which Type Of Diffuser Is Best For You?

Which Type Of Diffuser Is Best For You

Now, that we know all about the bells and whistles that go inside any type of diffuser, it is time to pick the one that is best for you.

There is a general consensus among experts that ultrasonic and nebulizing diffusers are far more useful and superior to the others.

Heat diffusers are cost-effective but are a serious threat to your safety and well-being. They are not ideal for houses with kids and pets that can knock off a candle from a shelf.

Evaporative diffusers require less maintenance but they cannot perform as well as an ultrasonic or a nebulizing diffuser. Practically, they are useless in large spaces.

Still, it would be hard for you to choose the best of two, with their own benefits and drawbacks.

Nebulizing VS Ultrasonic Diffusers

Nebulizing diffusers perform well vis-à-vis ultrasonic ones because they do not dilute essential oils before dispensing them into the environment. But they are more expensive than their counterparts and cannot humidify the surrounding air.

For many consumers, ultrasonic diffusers strike a perfect balance between price and value. They are not as expensive as nebulizing diffusers but they use water droplets as vectors to dilute essential oils and then disperse them. The dilution takes a toll on the effectiveness of the oils.

Concluding Remarks

Concluding Remarks

Essential oils are a great source to obtain desired medicinal effects without consuming synthetic drugs. They are particularly effective against certain conditions. Essential oil diffusers are the devices that are used to dispense oils into the environment.

Depending on their mechanism and efficiency, there are four major types of diffusers. By reading this post, you will be able to distinguish between different diffusers and how they work. This will help you in choosing the perfect one for you!


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