The air freshener market is estimated to be a $10 billion industry by 2020. That’s huge cash going right into the pockets of Big Freshener that you could easily have been creating more simply in your home with the use of an essential oils diffuser. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, diffusers are small humidifiers that release tiny puffs of moist air. The humidity in this air can be laden with essential oils that will alter the smell of your home consistently, and provide aromatic relaxation through natural chemicals found in the oils.
Warning: Though essential oil diffusers are far healthier than the synthetic sprays, candles, and plug-in air fresheners out there, they are not 100% safe! Seizures in children, allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, and other, less predictable side-effects might result from using a particular type of oil in your diffuser. Research the benefits and detriments to each oil you purchase so you know which have the highest occurrence of side effects. These side-effects are far less likely than allergies or adverse reactions associated with perfumes, colognes, dryer sheets, detergents, fabric softeners, aftershaves, and smoke from fireplaces.
A little care and research on which essential oils are safe goes a long way. Luckily, the University of Minnesota did the work for you by studying the safest essential oils for all purposes, including use during pregnancy. Now you know where to begin, which means we can tell you the 8 best essential oil diffusers to use.
Nebulizing vs. Ultrasonic Diffusers
You’re going to run into two primary kind of diffuser, those that nebulize and those that disperse ultrasonically. Technically, only ultrasonic diffusers are technically “diffusers” since the others are nebulizers, but for our purposes here, we’ve included both. Here’s the major differences between the two.
- Uses more oil for a stronger, more concentrated scent.
- Spread smell more effectively over larger spaces.
- Typically made of glass or have glass components.
- Tend to make more noise when dispersing oil.
- Rarely have lighting options.
- Doubles as a humidifier, spreading moist air along with oils for lower oil consumption.
- Operate very quietly.
- Usually can’t spread smell over more than 400 square-feet.
- Often made of plastic.
- Usually have lights, which can be helpful or distracting.
If you’re looking for straight scent efficiency, a nebulizer is going to give you more bang, but ultrasonics are generally easier to use, cheaper, more durable, and quieter, if not as good, nor as classy in appearance and style as nebulizers.
Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser
The quintessential basic ultrasonic diffuser, there’s little to say here except that with a few button presses, you can change the color or go from constant to intermittent stream, at a price that should be friendly to most. You’ll either get 3 hours of run time at the whole hog setting, or double that should you go for the intermittent option. There’s no timers or other features, so this a run until it goes dry scenario. Purchase: $15
Able to run for a full 7 hours without needing a refill, yet able to take up a tiny footprint of space, the Aroma clears the first major hurdles with space to spare. While many other choices try to make their diffusers look snappy rather than functioning well, the clean, simple aesthetic allows the Aroma to blend in wherever it sits. You have the choice of 7 LED lights, if you fancy that, with more muted LED lights showing the settings. All told, it’s hard to find a better choice at the same price. Purchase: $20
The Deluxe looks like a solid, professional operation, which is nice if you’re not looking for something “homey.” You’re also going to get a very sturdy build that comes backed by a 2-year warranty, which is far above industry standard. Able to operate for up to 10 hours, the Deluxe also tends to go above and beyond when it comes to running time, beating out the competition by leaps and bounds. The major issue is that it doesn’t actually spread oil scents very far or very well, making it fine while it’s on in a small room, but useless in larger spaces. Purchase: $33
Now Foods Ultrasonic Real Bamboo Diffuser
Made of actual bamboo, it’s hard not to like the cookie-jar looks of the Bamboo diffuser. It’s also hard to fault the serious mist output that this offers, which leaks out in an interesting fashion, giving this a lot of style points. Tack on a few automatic on/off timer options and a strong smell profile that reaches further than most ultrasonics, and this is a little beauty. Purchase: $40
Stadler Form Mia
Meant to work in the background, the Mia is the ultimate minimalist choice. It’s quiet, being ultrasonic, and produces a very slim amount of mist, which inhibits its effectiveness a little, but allows it to disappear into your home decor better. Squat black with a simple on/off button, it’s free of frills, though we wish the scent were stronger. Purchase: $45
Tiny but fierce, the Petal has a knack for both diffusing scents quickly, and having them hang around longer, showing a greater effectiveness when it comes to doing the actual task of diffusing. It’s nearly silent in spite of this, making it ideal for background use where it can’t stand out from the ambient noise. The soft light comes only in white, which is less fun than the multi-hued options out there, but also not as distracting. Purchase: $48
Built low to the ground, it’s tough to knock this little monster off its perch, which also allows for a large basin to be built in for run times that go into the 6 or 7 hour mark, a rarity among its breed. It uses that extra bulk to pump out a lot of vapor, which in turn provides more smell that hangs around after the aromatics from other options fade. The biggest drawback is the large, low body that can be tough to find space for. Purchase: $64
Organic Aromas Raindrop
A powerhouse that can really circulate scent around a whole apartment without breaking a sweat, the Raindrop is far ahead of anything else in terms of both how well it could raise the smell profile of a living space, and how quietly it operated for a nebulizing diffuser. The on/off controls are carefully hidden, so all you see is the quaint wood and glass droplet, happily making your house smell heavenly. Purchase: $121