People often ask me “what’s the best way to diffuse essential oils?”
So, I’m sure that at one time in your life you probably owned an oil burner, right? I know I did. I had peach oil burning all day long in it. It used to give me headaches, but I wanted my old, mouldy, musty house to smell nice. I thought it was better and easier to set up the oil burner to fragrance my house throughout the day than spraying air freshener.
We all want a nice smelling house right?
What I also noticed was that after a while, even though there was water still in my oil burner and the candle was still going, there was no smell coming out of it. Was I just used to the smell now and I couldn’t smell it anymore? I would look into the water and I could still see drops of essential oil. So, there must still be some in it… so why can’t I smell it? ⠀
Three things you need to know about how to diffuse essential oils
Evidently there were a few things going on. Firstly, essential oils are made up of hundreds of different molecules. Each of these are responsible for different things. Only some of them give an essential oil its smell. These particular molecules are lighter than others in the essential oil, so they burn off and disappear the fastest when the oil is heated or even when it just comes in to contact with the air.
This is why you can see the essential oil in the burner, but you’re not able to smell it.⠀
Secondly, essential oils lose a lot of their healing properties when they are heated. So, if you’re spending money on a good quality Lavender essential oil to calm your kids at bedtime and then heating it in an oil burner, then you’re wasting your money. Essential oils work best at low temperatures. Around room temperature is good. That’s why I only use cold air diffusers in my house.⠀
Thirdly, there’s a difference in the quality of essential oils sold. Just like there’s a difference in the quality of the supermarket brand $2 milk and the non-homogenised milk I buy for $4. There’s a difference between chuck steak and eye fillet. You don’t buy the cheapest car on the market do you?
Ultimately, you get what you pay for. When I diffuse essential oils I want them to actually work and that’s why I only use Young Living’s essential oils. I have been to 7 of their farms now and they have their Seed to Seal guarantee – the real deal. This is your quality assurance guarantee so that every time you diffuse essential oils you know you are helping and not hurting your family.
How long should i diffuse essential oils?
This depends on which oil it is as each one is different.
Start by diffusing oils for 15–30 minutes a day. As you become accustomed to the oils and recognise their effects, you may increase the diffusing time.
If you peel back the label on a Young Living essential oil bottle where it says peel here it will tell you underneath how to use the oil and for how long to diffuse it.
You might see that a particular essential oil is only recommended to be diffused for 15-30 minutes? Is this the maximum amount of time you can diffuse it? No however this is the minimum amount of time you will need to diffuse it to get the healing benefits of the essential oil.
More is not necessarily better though. Intermittent use of essential oils has been found to be more beneficial when it comes to the therapeutic benefits than running your diffuser non-stop.
This isn’t to say that you can’t run your diffuser all day. Many of us do in order to enjoy a nice smelling house. However if you are diffusing essential oils because you have a particular benefit you would like from a particular essential oil then you should stick to the recommended time on the label.
A cold-air diffuser is designed to atomise a microfine mist of essential oils into the air, where they can remain suspended for several hours. So you will still be befitting from your diffusing well after you have turned the diffuser off. Unlike aroma lamps or candles, a diffuser disperses essential oils without heating or burning, which can render the oil therapeutically less beneficial and even create toxic compounds.
Check the viscosity or thickness of the oil you want to diffuse. If the oil has too much natural wax and is too thick, it could plug the diffuser and make cleaning difficult.
Is diffusing essential oils safe?
Diffusing essential oils is safer than using them topically however nothing is every 100% safe. Things to consider when diffusing essential oils to make it safer:
Start low and go slow. Start by diffusing only a few drops and for short periods of time. That way if you have a reaction then it should be only mild. See my blog post can you be allergic to essential oils?
Always read the label for instructions on how to use that particular essential oil and if there are any contraindications (conditions you may have where it is not advisable to use an essential oil).
Check the cord of your diffuser regularly to make sure it hasn’t frayed.
Place the diffuser high in the room so that the oil mist falls through the air and removes the odour-causing substances.
One of the good things about cold air diffusers is that there is no steam coming out of them – just cold air. However don’t place a diffuser above a cot or diffuse essential oils too close to a child’s bed. Learn more about how to diffuse essential oils around babies here.
I also advise against peppermint and eucalyptus for children under 2 as some children can have respiratory issues with these essential oils or blends containing these essential oils. Better alternatives are spearmint and Australian Ericifolia.
Some essential oils can cause dryness to mucous membranes such as the nose and throat. For this reason I suggest not diffusing essential oils such as cinnamon bark or essential blends like Thieves or Abundance for too long.
If you want to wash the diffuser before using a different oil blend, use Thieves Household Cleaner with warm water or any natural soap and warm water.
Which is the best essential oil diffuser to buy?
How long is a piece of string. I have dedicated a whole blog post to answer this question and you can check it out here. There really are a lot of devises out there on the market these days to diffuse essential oils.
Have more questions about how to diffuse essential oils or about essential oils in general? Check out my essential oils FAQ page.