Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

Humidifiers and diffusers use similar technology but can a diffuser be used as a humidifier? We've considered all factors to answer
By
Carolina Evans
Carolina Evans
Research Writer
Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s ho read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Richard Powell
Richard Powell
Expert Consultant
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may read more
Last updated: December 27, 2022
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Low humidity makes us susceptible to nasal congestion, asthma, itchy eyes, sinus headaches, chapped lips, eczema, dry skin, and dry coughs, among other conditions. You should have relative humidity levels of 40% to 60% to prevent and alleviate these symptoms and the spread of infectious viruses. Dry air also causes furniture to warp. The best solution for dry air is to invest in a humidifier to optimize moisture levels.

Cool mist humidifiers and ultrasonic diffusers use similar technology but can a diffuser be used as a humidifier? If this question has ever crossed your mind, then you have come to the right place. We have done an in-depth comparison of the two and their functions so you can choose the most suitable solution for your babies, sinuses and plants.

Difference between Diffuser and Humidifier

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

A diffuser and a humidifier are not the same, despite having similar appearance and technology; a diffuser uses water to emit essential oils and a humidifier uses water to increase humidity level in a room.

We will explore the differences between a diffuser and a humidifier to help you understand their distinct benefits.

The main difference is in their output. Although they both diffuse liquids, a humidifier releases water vapor to add moisture to the air whereas a diffuser releases essential oils in minute water droplets to disperse an aroma in the room. A humidifier is designed to increase humidity and a diffuser is designed to add fragrance.

Generally, a humidifier is incompatible with essential oils and it can be damaged depending on the model. However, we have the  best humidifiers for essential oil Trusted Source 6 Best Humidifiers for Essential Oil Reviewed in Detail (Winter 2023) If you enjoy using essential oils for aromatherapy, a quality humidifier will come in handy. Check out our list of the best humidifiers for essential oils! homeclimateexperts.com that include a small compartment for essential oil for soothing sleep and a calming effect that will improve your mood and ambience. These tend to be warm mist humidifiers that can be diffused with inhalants and essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree oil, or peppermint, but only in minimal amounts.

A diffuser is the best option for aromatherapy and the medicinal benefits provided by essential oils. Although a diffuser can add moisture to the air in a room, it is not recommended for increasing relative humidity because the moisture output might be insignificant due to the small size of the tank.

Humidifier construction

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

A humidifier is essential, especially  in the fall and winter Trusted Source The body’s overlooked defense system - Harvard Health Petroleum jelly, creams, oils, and humectants can all help maintain a healthy skin barrier. They are most effective if applied right after hand washing or bathing. www.health.harvard.edu , to keep your skin supple and moisturized as the humidity drops. Apart from drying out your skin, low humidity also increases static electricity that could destroy electronic equipment, cause cracks in hardwood floors and walls or make the weather seem colder.

There are three types of humidifiers; evaporative, steam vaporizer and ultrasonic.

  • Evaporative humidifier: The most common humidifier draws water from the reservoir by using a wicking filter and uses fans to release a fine mist into the room. The cold water in the tank is dispensed into a basin where it is absorbed by a wicking filter. The air from the room evaporates as a fan blows it through the moistened wick and the humidifier emits hydrated air into the room. The self-regulating humidifier can be connected to a HVAC system.
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers: They increase humidity with a metal plate that vibrates at ultrasonic speed to form water droplets that are then dispersed by a fan as cool mist. These humidifiers are typically quiet and premium ones have antibacterial features such as ultraviolet light.
  • Steam vaporizer: Vaporizers boil water from the tank and a fan blows out the steam to emit a warm mist into the air. They are inexpensive and compatible with essential oils and medical inhalants that reduce coughs. Here are the  best humidifiers for coughs Trusted Source 6 Best Humidifiers for Coughs (Winter 2023) – The Complete Guide Looking for a humidifier that can ease your coughing and other symptoms? We’ve found the best humidifiers for coughs to make your shopping journey a breeze. homeclimateexperts.com according to many recommendations by users.

Humidifiers come with a reservoir with a minimum capacity of a half-gallon of water. They have a larger water tank capacity and greater mist output, compared to diffusers, because their purpose is to moisturize the air.

Diffuser construction

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

The main purpose of a diffuser is to emit a mixture of essential oils and water droplets in a fine mist that adds fragrance and minimal moisture to the air.

Diffusers are available in different types. The two common ones are ultrasonic and nebulizer diffusers.

  • Ultrasonic diffuser: A metal diaphragm vibrating at high speed converts essential oils to tiny droplets that are then mixed with water and dispersed as vapor. Since water is used as a carrier and it dilutes the essential oils, the resultant aroma is more subtle.
  • Nebulizer diffuser: Also known as atomizing diffuser, this type does not use water and is considered the most effective diffuser for targeted aromatherapy. A pump draws the essential oil that is then converted to vapor through atomizing technology and emitted into the room. The diffuser creates a scent that is stronger than the one emitted by water-based diffusers.

Let us look at some properties of diffusers below.

  • Aroma: Aromatherapy is the main appeal of diffusers. The benefits include a tranquil atmosphere, relaxed sleep, rejuvenated mood and a pleasant scent that may evoke nostalgia.
  • Air: Can an aroma diffuser be used as a humidifier? You can use it but it would not be as effective as a humidifier in raising humidity levels since the reservoir of a diffuser typically has a small capacity of less than a cup of water. That said, technology has made it possible to have diffusers with a large capacity that also makes them powerful humidifiers. A good example is raydrop Cool Mist Humidifier Diffuser which has a capacity of 0.66 gallons and comes with adjustable mist output and a convenient top-fill design.
  • Oil: You can add a single scent in a diffuser or blend different essential oils to create a unique aroma and to customize the scent to your preference.

You may use essential oil diffuser as a humidifier if it is water-based with sufficient output to increase the humidity in your room. It will hydrate your skin, relieve asthma and allergy symptoms and the therapeutic properties of essential oils will create a relaxed environment.

Both diffusers and humidifiers have plastic tanks. However, the latter usually has a type of plastic that might develop cracks and cause leakage if used for essential oils. That is why you should confirm compatibility before adding essential oils to a humidifier.

Humidifier vs Diffuser in Use

We have explained the situations where an air diffuser can be used as a humidifier. We will now look at more scenarios where one would be better than the other.

Without essential oils

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

A humidifier is the best option for humidifying a large space because the tank has a larger capacity to generate large amounts of moisture. An air diffuser can be used as a humidifier for small rooms, with the added benefit of a refreshing scent. In the absence of essential oils, you can put water in an ultrasonic diffuser to saturate the room.

Other substitutes for essential oils include lemon juice or a mixture of water and herbs and spices such as cinnamon, lavender, rosemary and mint.

With essential oils

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

You should never put essential oils in a humidifier unless the manufacturer states that it is safe to do so. Otherwise, the oils can coat and block the ultrasonic mechanism or damage the plastic tank.

You can put a mister in a humidifier to use essential oils. Wet a cotton ball with essential oil and put it on the outlet of the mister so that fragrance is emitted as the humidifier releases mist.

For plants

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier for plants? According to the Colorado State University Trusted Source Houseplants: Temperature & Humidity What is important for houseplant health? planttalk.colostate.edu , humidity affects a plant’s health and need for water and indoor plants in low humidity environments require more water.

It is safe to use a diffuser for plants in a small area for additional moisture. Some oils like neem can repel insects and the antifungal properties of cinnamon can prevent harmful organisms.

For multiple plants or plants in a large space, a humidifier would be more suitable in increasing humidity because it has a larger reservoir.

For sinuses

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

A humidifier is the better option for sinus congestion, dry skin, flu, and nose bleeding. It also prevents snoring by lubricating the nose and throat.

Some types of essential oils in a diffuser can sooth your skin and reduce bacteria and fungi in your room. Different essential oils have different properties that can benefit you if you choose the right one for your needs. Essential Oils Set has eucalyptus, peppermint, orange, lavender, lemon grass, and tea tree oils. There are many guides that will show you how to combine scents, the right amount to use and the individual properties of the oils.

In homes with pets

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

Diffusers work with essential oils. Essential oils are dangerous to birds because of their sensitive respiratory tracts.

Can an aroma diffuser be used as a humidifier for animals? You can briefly use a diffuser in an area where your cat or dog cannot access but you should never use it if your pet has a breathing problem. This is according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Trusted Source Is the Latest Home Trend Harmful to Your Pets? What You Need to Know! If you have been on social media lately, you may have seen articles or posts concerning essential oils, oil diffusers and the potential danger they may pose to your pets. www.aspca.org which also says that a subtle scent can be overwhelming for your pet since it has a better sense of smell than human beings.

If you have pets, a humidifier would be a safer choice for increasing moisture levels in your house.

For babies

Two Birds with One Stone: Can a Diffuser be Used as a Humidifier?

Humidifiers are available in different types. We have whole house humidifiers that you can hook to your existing HVAC and the  best travel humidifiers Trusted Source 7 Best Travel Humidifiers (Winter 2023) – The Complete Guide A portable humidifier is a great way to make the air humidity level comfortable anywhere. In this article, we reviewed 7 best travel humidifiers around! homeclimateexperts.com that are small, lightweight and can be charged in different ways.

Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier for a baby? Cool mist humidifiers are ideal for nurseries because they emit a cool mist, unlike vaporizers that emit steam that might scald your child.

You can use a diffuser with diluted essential oils such as sweet orange or ginger around babies that are at least 6 months old.

Final Thoughts

Humidifiers and diffusers can boost our health and wellness by increasing the moisture levels in the air around us. They humidify a room in various ways that we have explained in this article. A diffuser has therapeutic benefits that provide a calming ambience and enhance your mood. You may use your favorite scent or experiment with a combination of essential oils.

Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier? Yes, in some cases. One way to know which one you should use is to identify the purpose. Choose a humidifier to increase humidity or a diffuser to add a pleasant aroma to the air. Also, consider the size of the room you want to moisturize because a diffuser and a humidifier vary significantly in their capacity and output.

References

1.
6 Best Humidifiers for Essential Oil Reviewed in Detail (Winter 2023)
If you enjoy using essential oils for aromatherapy, a quality humidifier will come in handy. Check out our list of the best humidifiers for essential oils!
2.
The body’s overlooked defense system - Harvard Health
Petroleum jelly, creams, oils, and humectants can all help maintain a healthy skin barrier. They are most effective if applied right after hand washing or bathing.
3.
6 Best Humidifiers for Coughs (Winter 2023) – The Complete Guide
Looking for a humidifier that can ease your coughing and other symptoms? We’ve found the best humidifiers for coughs to make your shopping journey a breeze.
4.
Houseplants: Temperature & Humidity
What is important for houseplant health?
5.
Is the Latest Home Trend Harmful to Your Pets? What You Need to Know!
If you have been on social media lately, you may have seen articles or posts concerning essential oils, oil diffusers and the potential danger they may pose to your pets.
6.
7 Best Travel Humidifiers (Winter 2023) – The Complete Guide
A portable humidifier is a great way to make the air humidity level comfortable anywhere. In this article, we reviewed 7 best travel humidifiers around!
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