Diffusing Guidelines

When you diffuse, please keep in mind that you should always diffuse for a purpose and for short periods of time.

On this page you will learn:

    • Why Diffuse Instead of Using Topically?
    • How long can I safely diffuse?
    • What about diffusing for scent?
    • Can I diffuse to get rid of bad smells in my home?
    • How many drops of oil should I use in my diffuser?
    • Do I dilute my oils before adding to my diffuser?
    • Do I Need to Dump My Water Out After Each Use?
    • How do I clean my diffuser?
    • What diffuser do you recommend?
    • What about nebulizing diffusers?
    • Can I Add Essential Oils to my Humidifier?
    • What about diffusing in the car?
    • Is it Safe to Diffuse Around……

Always be sure that the oils which you choose are safe for your family's situation!

* Why Diffuse Instead of Using Topically?

Typically unless you are dealing with a skin or muscle issues inhalation is going to be the most effective way to use your essential oils. This means diffusing or using a personal aromatherapy inhaler is going to be the most effective.
Please see our Inhaling Essential Oils page for more info on the benefits of inhalation.
Please see our Personal Aromatherapy Inhaler page for more info on inhalers.

* How Long Should I Diffuse?

Having a diffuser with the proper interval setting is important so you can get the most benefits from diffusing.  However, there are very few diffusers on the market which have those settings. Our favorite diffuser is the Jasmine as it has a 10 minute on – 20 minute off setting which allows you to safely and effectively run your diffuser for longer periods of times, such as overnight. The Jasmine's small size and variety of colors is perfect for any space.  You can buy the Jasmine from Amazon.

Some diffusers don't have any timer/interval features at all.  Some have a 30 second burst setting and others will shut off after running for a period of time, usually anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.  (There are so many different diffusers and they all vary somewhat.)

If you do not have a diffuser with a proper interval feature like the Jasmine, we recommend diffusing only for short periods of time. Research has shown diffusing for long periods of time doesn't add extra benefits. It's a waste of essential oils and our body responds better when exposed in shorter intervals.

Studies have been done on diffusing oils. There is a curve which shows that the effectiveness goes up as you approach 30-45 mins. After that, the curve peaks and then starts to go down. So, you are overloading your system after 30-45 mins and your system not only stops responding to the therapeutic value of the oils, but the effectiveness goes down…after too long, down to zero. Robert Tisserand provides this in his Therapeutic Foundations class.

* What about diffusing for scent?

Please keep in mind that oils are not just for scent and do have safety issues and therapeutic properties regardless of how they are used, so you have to be certain that when diffusing you are using oils which are safe for your situation and only diffuse for short periods of time. For instance I, {Kristi}, diffuse nearly every morning and I use oils which for me tend to be a pick me up since I am not a morning person, but in part I also do it because it makes the room smell nice.

* What about diffusing to get rid of bad smells in my home?

All essential oils will help to cover a bad smell, but some such as tea tree and lemon may help a bit more.  However, they are not going to remove the smell, so you need to get to the source or cause of the bad smell and clean the area, surface, etc. to get rid of the smell. Just with diffusing for anything else you still need to put safety first and only use oils which are safe for your situation and only diffuse for short periods of time.

* How Many Drops of Oil Do I Add to My Diffuser?

That depends on your diffuser, so please read through the instructions which came with your diffuser to see how many are suggested.  Typically it can be anywhere from 2-10, but that also depends on how strong you want the scent to be.  Always start with less and add more if needed.

* Do My Oils Need to Be Diluted Before Diffusing?

No, diluting oils with a carrier oils is for topical use and you do not want to add any carrier to your diffuser or add a blend which is prediluted as carrier oils may clog your diffuser and possibly even ruin it.

* Do I Need to Dump My Water Out After Each Use?

It depends….if you are going to be diffusing again later that same day or even the next day there is no reason to dump the water out of your diffuser.  If it is going to be several days before you diffuse again then you probably will want to dump and wipe out your diffuser.
Even when changing to a new blend I often don't dump out the water unless it is a completely opposite type of blend such as going from a sleep blend to an energizing blends.  Even if a bit of the scent from the previous blend lingers it doesn't seem to affect the scent of the new blend.  If you know that you are not going to be using a particular oil or blend very long then don't fill your diffuser up all the way.  Using less water will mean less waste of oils if you feel the need to dump the water out.

* How Do I Clean My Diffuser?

Honestly, it is really not necessary to clean your diffuser on a regular basis.  Even if your diffuser smells like the previous oils or blend which you used it is unlikely that when adding fresh water and new oils to your diffuser that you are going to smell the scent left in the diffuser.  I diffuse a lot of minty type blends so my diffuser smells minty, but when using fresh water and a non minty blend I can't smell the mint at all when the new blend is being diffused.  If you do need to clean out your diffuser, first you need to look at the directions from the manufacturer of your diffuser to see what they suggest using.  Many will suggest white vinegar which you can either add to the diffuser and leave sit for a time, then dump the vinegar and rinse with clean water.  Sometimes all it takes is wiping the diffuser down with a soft cloth or gently using a Q-tip in the little round area at the bottom which many diffusers such as the Jasmine has.

* What about Nebulizing Diffusers?

Here is a quote from Lea about nebulizers (the type with the essential oil bottle attached). “They are super strong. I would use a regular diffuser 99.9% of the time. I have had mine a few years and haven't found the need to use it!”
And here is more info… “Nebulizers are not the same as water diffusers, and needs to be used with great caution, as it disperses straight oils into the air and can cause a headache in minutes. Lea only recommends using a nebulizer in cases of congestion (and only run for a few minutes not the 30-60 minutes recommended for diffusers) or where there are lots of germs or mold (and with no one present in the room as it runs)”
So, this is why the only diffuser which we recommend is the Jasmine.

* Can I Add Essential Oils to my Humidifier?

Most of the time, this is not a good idea as a humidifier is not made for essential oils like a diffuser is.  Adding oils to the water tank of a humidifier can possibly damage it or void your warranty.  Some do have little cups at the top which are *made* for EOs or some have suggested putting some drops of oil on a cotton ball and pushing it into one of the vent areas so the air coming out of the humidifier will help disperse the scent into the room, but this is not going to be nearly as effective as using as diffuser. If you are unsure if your humidifier can handle essential oils, please check your owner's manual. Lea does have a humidifier which she recommends, that has a special container for oils.  You can find it on Amazon.  TaoTronics Ultrasonic Humidifier

* What about diffusing in the car?

You need to be careful when diffusing in such a small enclosed space, but there are diffusers made for cars, but the same general guidelines apply.  Don't let the diffuser run for long periods of time and you will want to use only a few drops as to not have the scent be too strong.  It would also be a good idea to be sure that you are running the vent, air or heat as to keep the air circulating in the space.  As always, be certain you are only using oils which are safe for your situation and those who may be in the vehicle with you.  

Car Diffuser Recommendations:

* Is it Safe to Diffuse Around……

When diffusing you need to always be certain that the oils which you have chosen are going to be safe for your situation, there are oils which are not safe for babies & children, pregnancy & nursing, pets of all types, and are contraindicated with certain meds & certain health conditions. This is why it is never a good idea to diffuse in a public place such as schools, offices, stores, or even in your home if you are having company.  You must know the safety issues of the oils you are using and not risk putting others in danger by diffusing something which could cause them an adverse reaction.



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Lea Harris is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist Scholar's Program graduate from Aromahead Institute. This website is home to educational advice and information about using essential oils safely. Lea founded and runs the Using Essential Oils Safely facebook group, with hundreds of new members joining each week. Lea is the author of The TRUTH About Essential Oil Safety, and the creator of Safe Essential Oil Labels and apps for essential oils and carriers. You can find FREE classes here: Free Essential Oil Classes.

Lea is Professional level member of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and received her herbalist certification through The Herbal Academy of New England.

Businesses, groups, and individuals can hire Lea to consult on safety, product formulation, and more on her website Lea Harris CCA.

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