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Experts Explains: Can oil diffusers work as a humidifier?


Why are oil diffusers and humidifiers so closely tied to one another? I used to work as a lab technician in a controlled environment where we monitored the humidity variations in our lab. It was a (literally) fun and cool profession that I did for about ten years… 🙂 When I worked in that lab, I used to wear four jackets at a time. In the lab, humidity is indeed a major topic.

Is it possible to use diffusers as a humidifier? Yes, it can function as a small humidifier if it merely holds water, but it does not successfully improve humidity. Also, some oil diffusers have a humidification function. A conventional diffuser breaks down molecules of oil that are diffused through the air to produce a nice smell. A regular humidifier adds moisture to the air by producing steam or water vapor.

Let’s go over this in more detail.

Essential Oils Diffuser vs Humidifier: What’s the main difference?

An essential oil diffuser differs from a humidifier primarily in terms of its visual aspect (aesthetics). Because of its large reservoir, the humidifier can hold more water than the diffuser, which has a smaller container. I’ve included a photo of my two essential oil diffusers and a large humidifier below.

The table below shows the important differences between them.

Essential Oils DiffuserHumidifier
Effects on airAdds significantly small amount of moisture in the air, but greatly improve smell of a room because of the essential oils Increases amount of moisture or water vapor to the air
Mediums usedWater and essential oilsWater only
Process Process is called diffusion; is the net movement of anything (for example, atoms, ions, molecules, energy) generally from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration.  (see article from Wikipedia is called water vapor or evaporation; is a type of vaporization that occurs on the surface of a liquid as it changes into the gas phase. (see article from Wikipedia
SizeSmall (height 120 mm )Usually large (height 350 mm)
Price RangeUnder $200Under $100

Can you use an essential oils diffuser with just water in it?

As you have discovered, a diffuser makes your room smell incredibly nice; nevertheless, it is not supposed to be used alone with water in it. That is where a humidifier comes in handy; if the goal is to enhance the humidity level of your room rather than have a truly peaceful smell within your room, then acquire a humidifier instead of an essential oils diffuser.

Here are some humidifiers that you should check out:

  1. LEVOIT Humidifiers has a 6L water tank capacity. Check price in Amazon
  2. Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier has a 4L water tank capacity. Check price in Amazon
  3. AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier has a 2.2L water tank capacity. Check price in Amazon

Does diffuser significantly help improve dry air?

A diffuser can help improve dry air by dispersing a very fine mist into the air, which makes the air softer and more humid. Dry air is caused by a number of factors, and a diffuser can help in some way.

How much humidity does a diffuser add?

A diffuser contributes very little humidity; for example, I used one of my aroma diffusers at home and a piece of our floor tiles became really moist due to the droplets from the diffuser. Although the aroma diffuser I purchased has a humidification feature, I believe the water tank size is still important in producing steam or water vapor in the air.

You may also be interested to read: How to clean an oil diffuser that smells bad?

Can you put essential oils in a humidifier?

Using a regular humidifier for essential oils, such as those that create cool mist by blowing water through a wet wicking filter, is not permitted due to the risk of damaging and clogging your humidifier with oils. According to experts, using this type of humidifier with oils will erode the plastic tank and fan mechanisms and potentially block the wicking filter.

“A wick filter (sometimes also called a wicking filter) sits in the base of the humidifier and absorbs water. A fan then blows dry room air through the saturated wick filter, causing the water in the filter to evaporate into the room, thereby adding moisture into the air.”


If you have an ultrasonic humidifier, you can use essential oils in it; however, if you don’t have your manual with you, you should speak with the manufacturer first. This “Everlasting Comfort Cool Mist Humidifier” specifies that it includes an essential oil tray.

How to add essential oils to humidifier with ultrasonic features?

It is safe to put essential oils in ultrasonic humidifier, and just add distilled water most preferably to avoid damaging your humidifier. Every type of humidifier will have a different specification including adding essential oils, always refer to your manufacturer’s specifications.

Some humidifiers, for example, include separate trays for essential oils only, which you may switch to in order to utilize the humidifier just as a diffuser for those oils.

How much essential oil to put in ultrasonic humidifier?

Essential oil to water ratio for humidifier depends on the water level. All you need to do is add a few drops of your favorite essential oils and the water should be slightly below the fill line. There is a water level that you can check inside the water reservoir of your equipment. For my particular Asakuki oil humidifier I just put 2 – 3 drops of essential oils fill it up with distilled water at the correct level.

Some experts recommend a minimum of 20 drops and a maximum of 35 drops of essential oils. This is entirely dependent on the brand and kind of equipment you are utilizing.

Should you get a humidifier or diffuser?

It’s always advisable to buy distinct equipment for different uses; for example, if you want to diffuse essential oils in your home, an oil diffuser is the way to go. If you want to enhance the amount of moisture in your home, you need to get a separate humidifier.

Also, while there is equipment that can perform both, make sure you have a decent brand and good customer service if you have any issues or want to double-check if the product is of good quality.

I hope you found this information useful, and remember to make your home good! 🙂

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