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In the realm of wellness and home comfort, essential oils have emerged as a cornerstone for those seeking natural ways to enhance their environment and well-being. These potent botanical extracts are not only celebrated for their delightful fragrances but also for their potential health benefits, ranging from stress reduction to immune support. However, to fully harness the power of essential oils, it is crucial to understand their properties, applications, and the devices best suited for their dispersion, such as humidifiers and diffusers. This guide delves into the intricacies of essential oils, their diverse uses, and whether you can put essential oils in a humidifier.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor, or “essence,” of their source. They are obtained through distillation (via steam and/or water) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing.

What Are They Used For?

These aromatic compounds are commonly used for aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine that employs plant extracts to support health and well-being. Essential oils are also found in various products like candles, soaps, perfumes, and cosmetics for scent, and they have antiseptic properties that make them suitable for medicinal purposes.

Essential oils are derived from various parts of plants, including leaves, stems, flowers, bark, and roots. Each oil has a unique chemical composition that determines its scent, color, volatility, and the way it affects the body.

Common Essential Oils

Here are some commonly used essential oils and their purported benefits:

  • Lavender: Known for its calming and relaxing properties, lavender oil is often used to alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, and reduce anxiety.
  • Peppermint: With its invigorating scent, peppermint oil is believed to boost energy, relieve headache pain, and improve digestion.
  • Tea Tree: This oil has strong antiseptic properties, making it effective in treating skin conditions, fighting infections, and boosting immunity.

It’s important to note that while many people experience positive effects from using essential oils, scientific research on their efficacy varies, and they should be used with caution. Essential oils are highly concentrated and should be diluted before use, and some may cause allergic reactions or interact with certain medications. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new wellness regimen involving essential oils.

What is a Humidifier Used For?

A humidifier is an electronic device that adds moisture to the air to prevent dryness that can irritate many parts of the body. Humidifiers can be particularly effective for treating dry skin, nose, throat, and lips. The common types of humidifiers include:

  • Ultrasonic: Produces mist via ultrasonic vibration.
  • Evaporative: Expels moisture through a fan that blows air through a wet wick, filter, or belt.
  • Steam Vaporizer: Heats water and then cools it before expelling it into the air.
  • Impeller: Works with the help of rotating disks running at high speeds.
  • Central Humidifiers: Built directly into a home’s heating and air conditioning system to humidify the whole house.

Can You Put Essential Oils in a Humidifier?

Generally, it is not recommended to put essential oils in a humidifier, as most are not designed to distribute oils into the air. Doing so might damage the mechanism of a humidifier that is not made for this purpose.

What Kind of Humidifier Can You Put Essential Oils In?

If you want to use essential oils in a humidifier, look for one that is specifically marketed as an essential oil diffuser-humidifier combo. These models are built to handle the dispersal of oils without damaging the device.

What Happens If You Put Essential Oils in a Humidifier?

Using essential oils in a humidifier not designed for them can lead to problems. The oils can corrode the plastic components of the device, leading to leaks or complete breakdown. Moreover, improper dispersion can result in less efficient emission of the essential oil’s aroma and potential health benefits.

A diffuser is better for essential oils than a humidifier.  A diffuser is made for this purpose.

What is a Diffuser?

Now that you know that you don’t want to put essential oils in a humidifier, let’s talk about diffusers. They are much better for use with oils. A diffuser is designed to spread essential oils throughout a room. The oils are typically mixed with water and then they’re emitted as a fine mist. There are several types of diffusers:

  • Nebulizing Diffusers: Use no water but atomize the essential oils into fine particles.
  • Ultrasonic Diffusers: Create a fine mist with water and essential oils.
  • Heat Diffusers: Use heat elements to evaporate the essential oils.
  • Evaporative Diffusers: Blow air through a pad or filter containing the essential oils.

Safety Precautions When Using a Diffuser

Since we are talking about diffusers now as well, we need to think about safety precautions. When using essential oils in diffusers or for other purposes, it’s important to adhere to safety guidelines to avoid potential risks. Here are some key safety considerations:


  • Aromatherapy (Diffusion): When diffusing essential oils, typically only a few drops (about 3-5) per 100ml of water are needed. Diffusers vary in size, so adjust the number of drops accordingly to avoid an overpowering scent.
  • Topical Application: Essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied to the skin. Common carrier oils include coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, and sweet almond oil. A general guideline for dilution is to maintain a concentration of 1-2% for adults, which translates to about 1-2 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil. For children and sensitive individuals, a 0.5-1% dilution (or less) is recommended.

Risks and Precautions

  • Skin Sensitivity: Some essential oils can irritate the skin or cause allergic reactions. Always conduct a patch test before using a new oil topically, and discontinue use if irritation occurs.
  • Phototoxicity: Citrus oils like bergamot, lemon, lime, and grapefruit can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, leading to burns or rashes. Avoid sun exposure after applying these oils to the skin.
  • Ingestion Hazards: Never ingest essential oils without professional guidance, as they can be toxic.
  • Quality of Oils: Use high-quality, pure essential oils from reputable sources to ensure they do not contain synthetic additives that may be harmful when diffused or applied to the skin.
  • Children and Pets: Exercise caution when using essential oils around children and pets, as they can be especially sensitive to the effects. Some oils are not safe for use around certain animals.
  • Medical Conditions and Medications: Consult with a healthcare provider before using essential oils if you have any medical conditions or are taking medications, as there can be contraindications.
  • Pregnancy and Nursing: Pregnant or nursing women should consult with a healthcare provider before using essential oils, as some may not be safe during this time.
  • Room Ventilation: Ensure the room is well-ventilated when diffusing essential oils, especially in small spaces or for extended periods.
  • Duration of Diffusion: It’s generally recommended to diffuse essential oils for intervals of 30-60 minutes, followed by a break, to prevent overexposure.
Cleaning a humidifier with or without essential oils is an important part of maintenance.

Maintenance of a Humidifier and Diffuser

Maintaining your humidifier and diffuser is crucial to ensure they function effectively and to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. Here are steps for proper maintenance of both devices:

Humidifier Maintenance

  • Daily Maintenance: Empty the water tank, rinse it with clean water, and dry it thoroughly every day. Refill the tank with fresh distilled or demineralized water to reduce mineral buildup and potential bacterial growth.
  • Weekly Maintenance: Deep clean the water tank and any other removable parts once a week using a mixture of water and white vinegar to remove mineral deposits and other residues. For stubborn areas, use a small brush or a sponge to gently scrub away buildup. Rinse all cleaned parts thoroughly with water and let them air dry before reassembling.
  • Filter Replacement: If your humidifier has a filter, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how often to replace it. Generally, filters should be replaced every 1-3 months depending on usage and water quality.
  • Seasonal Storage: When storing the humidifier for an extended period, clean it thoroughly, ensure all parts are completely dry, and store it in a cool, dry place. Remove and discard any used filters, and install a new one when you take the humidifier out of storage.

Diffuser Maintenance

  • After Each Use: Turn off and unplug the diffuser and empty any remaining water or essential oil. Wipe the inside of the reservoir with a damp cloth to remove oil residue.
  • Deep Cleaning: Once a month, fill the reservoir with clean water and add a few drops of white vinegar. Run the diffuser for about 5 minutes, then drain the reservoir. Use a cotton swab dipped in vinegar to clean tight spots and any mist outlets.
  • Avoiding Water Damage: Always place your diffuser on a waterproof surface to prevent damage from spills or condensation.

Clean Air

Now you know that you can put essential oils in a diffuser, not a humidifier. It is also important to know the difference between an air purifier and a dehumidifier. An air purifier cleans the air by removing contaminants and pollutants. While on the other hand, a dehumidifier absorbs the moisture and dries out the air.

When you are dealing with air in the home, it is also important to make sure you are keeping an eye on the air vents. If you notice that there is musty odors, visible mold, unexplained health issues, or an increase in allergic reactions, it is important to check out the vents. There could be some health dangers lurking.

Lastly, you may wonder if dehumidifiers use a lot of electricity. Well, it depends on how long they are run. If it is a long time, then yes, they consume a lot of electricity. If not, then it shouldn’t be too bad. As with everything, you want to maintain regular maintenance such as cleaning the filter to make sure it runs like it should.

When Do I Call a Professional?

Seek professional advice if you’re considering using essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Also, seek a professional if you need guidance on the appropriate diffuser. Also, call a professional if you encounter any issues with your humidifier or diffuser equipment.

Check out the video below about diffusers and humidifiers and which one is best for you.


In summary, while both humidifiers and diffusers improve the ambiance and air quality of your surroundings, not all humidifiers are suited for essential oils. It’s crucial to distinguish between these devices. Using the appropriate one to enjoy the full benefits of essential oils without risking damage to your device or compromising your health Is important.

While you are thinking about using essential oils in the home, it is a good time to have a home inspection. Reach out to Enviroquest Home Inspections for a complete home inspection in Harrisburg, PA.

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