Can a Diffuser Be Used as a Humidifier?

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Can a Diffuser Be Used as a Humidifier

Anyone who lives in an area with particularly cold winters or low humidity will know how detrimental this can be to your overall health and wellbeing. Waking up with a sore throat, stuffy nose, and dry skin is a common occurrence for many people due to low relative humidity levels within their homes.

If this is an issue you’re dealing with, you might be considering investing in a humidifier to alleviate the problem. Humidifiers are highly effective and can greatly improve the humidity levels in your home.

However, if you’re not looking to invest in a potentially expensive new piece of machinery that might not fit well into the aesthetic of your home, you might be wondering, “Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier?” Essential oil diffusers can be purchased inexpensively, and you may already have one in your home. Could it be used to alleviate the problem?

We’re going to consider whether oil diffusers can be used in place of regular humidifiers. We will consider the pros, cons, and differences between the two products, enabling you to decide which is likely to be most beneficial to you.

Can a Diffuser Be Used as a Humidifier?

Ultrasonic oil diffusers may be slightly less effective when it comes to adding fragrance to a space, but they are likely to be your best option if you’re hoping to use an oil diffuser to add humidity to your home. If the correct model of diffuser is chosen, they can be used pretty effectively in place of a regular humidifier.

Any oil diffuser that holds water, as well as oil (an ultrasonic diffuser, for example) can be used as a humidifier. If you’re looking to add moisture to your home but don’t wish to use essential oils, simply add water into the diffuser’s water tank and don’t add any essential oils. It will work in the same way, emitting water back into the air at its regular pace.

All oil diffusers add some level of moisture into the air, but often this isn’t as noticeable as with a humidifier, given that diffusers are generally pretty small and this isn’t their primary purpose. A typical humidifier will hold up to a gallon of water, whereas the average oil diffuser will hold between 100 and 500 milliliters of water only.

Because of this, you might find that your essential oil diffuser doesn’t run for as long as a humidifier, so you will probably need to fill up the water tank much more often if you’re going to use it in this way.

What is a Humidifier?

A humidifier works to increase the moisture levels in the air, creating a more humid environment within your home.

The purpose of a humidifier is to raise relative humidity levels. Relative humidity levels refer to the level of water vapor in the air in relation to the air temperature. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, so if you are in a hot room that has low levels of water vapor in the air, the room has low relative humidity.

Relative humidity can seriously impact our comfort levels. If the relative humidity is too low, your skin and mucous membranes will become dry and constricted, potentially causing a sore throat, congestion, and the exacerbation of any skin conditions such as eczema. If the relative humidity is too high, our bodies find it much harder to regulate their temperature and can quickly overheat. So, it’s vital that we regulate the humidity levels in our homes, particularly if you live in an area with extreme weather.

The humidifier increases the relative humidity by slowly emitting water vapor or steam into the atmosphere. They do this in various ways, depending on the make and model of your machine.

The most common type of humidifier is known as an evaporative humidifier, and the way they work is actually pretty simple. Cool water is held in a reservoir or tank within the machine. This water is absorbed using a wicking filter and is then blown out into the air using a fan mechanism.

Evaporative Humidifier
Evaporative Humidifier

Other kinds of humidifiers might use boiling water and release this as steam into the atmosphere. These are also pretty common but can be slightly more dangerous given the use of boiling water, particularly if you have children or pets running around. These kinds of humidifiers also tend to be more susceptible to the growth of mold and mildew if used in excess and not cleaned thoroughly.

There are various other types of humidifiers available, all working in slightly different ways, however, evaporative and steam humidifiers are by far the most common, and typically the most affordable.

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Top Choice
Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
  • Ultrasonic humidifier has 1.6 gallon tank that works in rooms up to 500 sq feet and lasts for up to 50 hours
  • Includes essential oil tray to circulate into the cool mist
  • 2 year replacement policy
9.8
Check Price on Amazon
Best Value
AquaOasis™ Cool Mist Humidifier
AquaOasis™ Cool Mist Humidifier
  • Quiet ultrasonic humidifier runs for continuous 24 hours with auto shutoff
  • Multiple mist settings and 360° rotating nozzle for direction control
  • Lifetime warranty
9.5
Check Price on Amazon
WiFi
LEVOIT Wi-Fi Cool Mist Humidifier
LEVOIT Wi-Fi Cool Mist Humidifier
  • Smart control via the free VeSync app to monitor humidity in real-time with programmed timers, customized schedules, voice control, or let the auto mode make adjustments for you
  • Ultrasonic, customizable, quiet mist for 40 hours
  • BPA-free, essential oil tray
9.6
Check Price on Amazon

What is an Essential Oil Diffuser?

An essential oil diffuser can also be used to add moisture into the air, but this isn’t their primary purpose, and they’re very different from humidifiers.

Plant Therapy TerraFuse Deluxe Essential Oil Diffuser
  • 5 timer settings and intermittent or continuous options
  • Uses ultrasonic technology 
  • Automatic Shut Off

The TerraFuse Deluxe Diffuser features a large water reservoir (210 mL) that covers an area of approximately 430 square feet. When used continuously, the diffuser will give you up to eight hours of diffusion that will automatically shut off when the timer is complete or the water has run out.

Diffusers are typically much smaller than humidifiers, holding only a small amount of liquid, which is diffused slowly over time. While they might fractionally increase the relative humidity levels, diffusers are used more widely to add fragrance to a space and for the emission of essential oils which have various health benefits.

Different essential oils have different purposes and aromatherapeutic benefits:

There are numerous different reasons someone might choose to introduce an essential oil diffuser into their home, like eliminating smoke odor, introducing a pleasant scent, purifying the air, and more.

Like humidifiers, there are multiple different kinds of oil diffusers, all working in slightly different ways. And although they accomplish some of the same things, there are also differences between a diffuser and an air purifier.

The most common type of oil diffuser uses ultrasonic vibrations. Water is added to the diffuser along with the chosen essential oils. The oils are diluted in the water which is then converted into tiny droplets of water vapor using ultrasonic vibrations. The water vapor is then emitted into the atmosphere using a fan mechanism.

Other oil diffusers work without the addition of water. A nebulizing diffuser forces high-pressure steam through small tubes that contain the essential oils. The oils are picked up by the steam and then distributed into the air.

Typically, ultrasonic diffusers are the most affordable, although some people believe them to be less effective given that the oils are diluted in water, so they may be less potent when emitted into the air.

Pros and Cons of Using an Essential Oil Diffuser

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using an oil diffuser in place of a regular humidifier.

Pros

1. Can Be Used to Add Moisture to Your Home

If the correct model is used, diffusers can effectively add moisture into the air within your home. Just make sure to choose a diffuser that has a water tank.

2. Added Aromatherapeutic Benefits

As well as adding moisture, oil diffusers can also be used to emit essential oils, which come with numerous health benefits and will leave your home smelling great. Just be sure to do some research before introducing any new essential oils into your home – some can cause allergic reactions and are not suitable for use around certain pets.

3. Affordable and Compact

Oil diffusers can be found at extremely reasonable prices and are typically much more compact than humidifiers. You can also find oil diffusers that actually look really sleek within the home! Some also offer ambient lighting and calming soundscapes.

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Top Choice
Plant Therapy TerraFuse Deluxe Essential Oil Diffuser
Plant Therapy TerraFuse Deluxe Essential Oil Diffuser
  • Features 5 timer settings and intermittent or continuous options and auto shut off when empty
  • Ultrasonic technology with a large reservoir that covers an area of approximately 430 square feet
  • Up to 8 hours of continuous run time
9.7
Check Price on Amazon
URPOWER 2nd Generation 300ml Aroma Essential Oil DiffuserURPOWER 2nd Generation 300ml Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser
  • Advanced ultrasonic diffusing technology ensures the integrity of the essential oils' beneficial molecular structure
  • Auto shut off and 6-7 hours continuous diffusing in rooms up to 200 sq feet
  • 7 color changing lights and 4 timer settings
9.5
Check Price on Amazon
Best Value
URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser
URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser
  • Ultrasonic whisper-quiet essential oil diffuser does not compromise the quality of the essential oils 
  • Features include 7 color changing options, nightlight, programmable on/off cycles and auto shut-off 
  • Working time up to 6 hours with 2 adjustable mist settings: continuously and intermittently
9.5
Check Price on Amazon

Cons

1. Won’t Give As Much Added Humidity as a Humidifier

Although oil diffusers can be used to add moisture into the air within your home, they are unlikely to be as effective in doing so as a regular humidifier. They typically won’t hold as much water and don’t dispel water vapor at the same rate as a humidifier can. Lots of humidifiers are also able to self-regulate depending on the humidity level in the room, oil diffusers are less likely to do this.

2. Not All Models Can Be Used in This Way

Not all models of diffusers are suitable for use as a humidifier. Some diffusers do not hold water and instead emit essential oils using air pressure and fan mechanisms. Using one of these models will not make much difference to the relative humidity within your home.

3. Likely to Need Refilling Regularly

Because oil diffusers are typically much smaller than humidifiers, you’re likely to need to refill them much more often which can be inconvenient. A good quality humidifier will use its self-regulation function to monitor moisture levels and shut off when they have reached the optimal point, an oil diffuser won’t do this and will simply continue running until the water tank is empty.

Pros and Cons of Using a Humidifier

Now, let’s see how these compare to the pros and cons of using a specialist humidifier.

Pros

1.  Extremely Effective at Increasing Moisture Levels

Humidifiers really get the job done when it comes to adding moisture into the air within your home. A good-quality humidifier is highly effective and they’re generally pretty long-lasting as long as they are properly cleaned and maintained.

2. Some Models Have Built-In Self-Regulation

It is becoming more and more common for new humidifier models to come with built-in self-regulation. This means the humidifier will monitor the moisture levels in the air and turn off when the optimal levels have been met, saving water and energy. It can be difficult to know when the relative humidity levels within your home are out of balance until you start seeing the effects such as dry skin and sore throats, so having a machine that monitors this for you is really useful.

3. Lots of Added Health Benefits

Introducing a humidifier into your home can be extremely beneficial, particularly for those of us that live in typically colder climates. They help to prevent flare-ups with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis; reduce feelings of stuffiness and congestion, and can also help to prevent seasonal allergies.

Related: Humidifier Benefits and Side Effects to Be Aware Of

ImageProductOur RatingPrice
Top Choice
Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
  • Ultrasonic humidifier has 1.6 gallon tank that works in rooms up to 500 sq feet and lasts for up to 50 hours
  • Includes essential oil tray to circulate into the cool mist
  • 2 year replacement policy
9.8
Check Price on Amazon
Best Value
AquaOasis™ Cool Mist Humidifier
AquaOasis™ Cool Mist Humidifier
  • Quiet ultrasonic humidifier runs for continuous 24 hours with auto shutoff
  • Multiple mist settings and 360° rotating nozzle for direction control
  • Lifetime warranty
9.5
Check Price on Amazon
WiFi
LEVOIT Wi-Fi Cool Mist Humidifier
LEVOIT Wi-Fi Cool Mist Humidifier
  • Smart control via the free VeSync app to monitor humidity in real-time with programmed timers, customized schedules, voice control, or let the auto mode make adjustments for you
  • Ultrasonic, customizable, quiet mist for 40 hours
  • BPA-free, essential oil tray
9.6
Check Price on Amazon

Cons

1. Some Humidifiers Use a Lot of Energy

Some humidifiers do use a lot of power and can be expensive to run if they’re used consistently. It’s always important that you check the kilowatt usage of any new model and compare this to other humidifiers. You can also type it into an energy usage calculator online which will tell you exactly how much it is likely to cost to run the humidifier within your home.

In this way, humidifiers are very similar to dehumidifiers that can use a considerable amount of electricity.

2. Tend to Be Pretty Bulky and Not Aesthetically Pleasing

Unlike oil diffusers, humidifiers tend to be pretty bulky and can look obtrusive in the home. Not everyone likes the idea of having a large white box sitting in their home, no matter how effective or beneficial it might be. They can also be noisy, although this seems to be less of a problem with most new models.

3. Can Be Expensive

Humidifiers can also be expensive. A top-of-the-range humidifier could set you back upwards of $500. The price will obviously depend on the model you go for, but keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good quality, effective humidifier. Just do plenty of research, check out the energy usage, and read some reviews to help decide on the right model for you.

So, Which is the Best Option?

There is absolutely no reason that you can’t use an oil diffuser to add humidity to your home! Diffusers that have water tanks can be used effectively for this purpose; they often look great and are generally pretty affordable.

However, an oil diffuser is not built specifically to regulate your home’s relative humidity levels, so you’re unlikely to achieve the same results using an oil diffuser as you would using a humidifier.

If you’re looking to focus your efforts on a small room, an oil diffuser could be a great option! But if you’re hoping to regulate the humidity levels throughout your entire home or a large open-plan area, a diffuser is unlikely to make too much difference.

Final Thoughts on Can a Diffuser Be Used as a Humidifier?

So, in short, the answer to “Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier?” is yes, it can. Whether you choose to use an oil diffuser or a humidifier within your home will depend on the results you’re hoping to achieve. If you already own a diffuser and don’t wish to invest in a humidifier, try using your diffuser in this way first and see what results you get. You might be pleasantly surprised and end up saving yourself some money!

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