Skip to content

How Does An Essential Oil Diffuser Work?

Have you recently learned about the benefits of essential oils? If so, you may be interested in integrating them into your lifestyle yet uncertain as to how to best do...

Have you recently learned about the benefits of essential oils? If so, you may be interested in integrating them into your lifestyle yet uncertain as to how to best do so. Many individuals discover essential oils because they’re experiencing stress at home or in the workplace and are in search of a natural solution to their worries. If that sounds like you, then we recommend investing in a diffuser – a small electronic device that mists essential oil to fill a room, cubicle or office with its scent. Before you buy an essential oil diffuser, it’s important to know how the oil diffuser works. Check out the information below and learn more about essential oils, oil diffusers and how to use a diffuser.

Types and Models of Diffusers

All essential oil diffuser models can be broken down into four categories – ultrasonic, nebulizing, evaporative and heat. These categories dictate the kind of diffusing technology the model makes use of, and the differences between them can be significant if you have specific misting needs.

Ultrasonic Diffusers

Ultrasonic Diffusers are similar to humidifiers in the sense that they require water to operate. Most ultrasonic models can double as humidifiers, which makes them extremely useful in arid climates or dry winter months. An ultrasonic diffuser mists the combination of water and oil and then disperses it into the air. Though how these essential oil diffusers work is fairly simple, there are benefits and drawbacks to their design that you should know before buying.




  • Ultrasonic diffusers are the most common variety on the market today, meaning that you can find a wide range of capabilities across models
  • Typically less expensive than nebulizing models
  • Typically quieter than nebulizing models
  • Can double as a humidifier


  • Require water to operate
  • Requires occasional cleaning
  • The usage of citrus essential oils is not recommended with models of this variety, as their parts can be eroded over time by the acids found in those oils
  • Many models feature colorful lights that can’t be turned off, making them less than ideal for dark areas
  • The water/oil mist is less potent than that produced by nebulizing models

Nebulizing Diffusers

Nebulizing Diffusers do not require any water for their operation. Instead, they use an atomizer which diffuses the essential oil to create fine particles, which is then diffused into the air by the device. The resulting mist is exceptionally potent because the oil has not been watered down. Though this may be the most significant feature of these models, nebulizing diffusers have their own drawbacks that make them less than ideal for certain situations.

Here’s an example of how a nebulizing essential oil diffuser works:




  • Does not require water; most models require no setup of any kind
  • Most models include timers that allow you to control the duration of diffusion
  • The concentration of mist more potent than that produced by other types of diffusers
  • Most models have no or minimal lighting, making them excellent choices for overnight diffusion


  • Typically louder than other types of diffusers
  • Uses oil more quickly than other types of diffusers
  • Generally speaking, the most expensive variety of diffuser

Evaporative Fan Diffusers

As the name suggests, Evaporative Fan Diffusers work through evaporation of the oil. More specifically, the user soaks an absorbent pad within the diffuser, with a few drops of essential oil and then leaves it to evaporate. Once it does so, the oil is then dispersed through a fan built into the device. Some models (which include personal diffusers, pendants, bracelets, et cetera) are so simple that they don’t even make use of a fan – they just let the natural air currents of their environment carry the oil particles away.


  • Generally speaking, the most inexpensive electronic variety in terms of purchase and operation cost
  • Most models are very portable and great for travel
  • Their comparatively small coverage makes them an excellent choice for small areas, such as a work desk or bathroom


  • Weak output limits range and may lessen therapeutic benefits
  • Absorbent pads must be replaced and refilled
  • Most models rely on batteries or a USB port for power

Heat Diffusers

A heat diffuser is just what it sounds like – a diffuser that uses warmth to evaporate essential oils. So, that’s how the oils work and interact with the diffuser. Generally speaking, models of this variety, like our eWarm Essential Oil Warmer, don’t even use electricity, so need for any type of automatic shutoff. Instead, they make use of a candle that heats a reservoir of oil from below. Though this makes heat diffusers a more economical choice than other varieties, that affordability comes at the cost of sacrificing control over the diffusion over the oil. Additionally, they’re not appropriate for any areas in which open flames are not allowed.


  • The most inexpensive variety of diffuser
  • Lack of power source means that they can be used even when no electricity is present
  • Easy to clean and maintain


  • No way to control the strength or duration of diffusion
  • Not appropriate for office-based environments or anywhere else open flames are discouraged
  • Aromatherapy benefits lessened by the scent of candle mixing in with that of the oil


As you can see, the world of diffusers is so big that there’s bound to be a model out there which perfectly suits your needs. The effects of essential oils are many, so if you’re interested in a diffuser for your bedroom or office, the all-around capabilities of ultrasonic models may be what you’re after. If you need a powerful diffuser to fill a large space, nebulizers are likely the way to go. Those in need of a travel or desk diffuser will likely find their ideal model among the evaporative varieties. Heat diffusers, meanwhile, are perfect for those looking for truly all-natural aromatherapy. If you have any further questions about the differences between the models, please feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly customer care representatives.


Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping

Select options