Diffusers and Humidifier Differences: Which to Buy and Why

Last Updated on November 11, 2022 by Brenda

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This is a DIFFUSER

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Diffusers and humidifier differences, you can tell at a glance that the diffuser is smaller for less water and that the humidifier is larger for more water. Most humidifiers only use water and some today use essential oils and vapor rubs.

Diffusers are made to use only essential oils with or without water. The ultrasonic type uses water; the nebulizer type uses only pure essential oils with no water.

With a diffuser, the aroma and nature’s pure plant oils give us serenity, happiness, and pleasure with their many therapeutic benefits for health and wellness. The diffuser gives you a small amount of moisture whereas a humidifier gives you a large amount of moisture in a larger square-foot area.

Both have similarities and unique differences is all I’m saying. Diffusers are designed to be lovely to look at as well as functional. They come in different water capacities and come in fun shapes and colors. Diffusers made of glass, ceramic, metal, and plastic are your preference now in the marketplace.

The four types of essential oil diffusers are the nebulizer, ultrasonic, heat, and evaporative. We will discuss the nebulizer and ultrasonic diffusers at our site because they are the most sought after and the most sold.

Diffusers produce a cool-mist because they do not have a heating element inside to heat water. The warm water would be cold anyway when it hits the air. These units emit a small fine mist to be health-giving and aromatic using essential oils. You can also use a diffuser without oils to be a very small humidifier.

Some people don’t want just a small spray of moisture so that’s where a large humidifier comes in. These are portable, or table top models, or built-in to the ductwork of a furnace.

The good thing about both is that both, if you buy a humidifier with an essential oil tray, and any diffuser is that the air you inhale will be purified, the skin will not be so dry, and you will be more relaxed. You won’t feel as fatigued and your mood will be cheerier.

On the downside, the best models of diffusers or humidifiers cost more but are worth it overall. You always get what you pay for. Some diffusers and humidifiers can be noisy from the fan that moves the water, and some come with lights with most being able to turn off manually by you.

My advice to you is to buy a unit that does both functions whether you need only a small unit or a larger one.

Humidifiers for Moisture

With a larger humidifier unit that most mom’s use for sick infants and kids, they find the moisture level in any room to be greater than with a small diffuser. In dry climates such as the Southwest, it is always dry even during winter. In humid climates such as the Midwest, the humidity does not stay in the house when the furnace runs all winter. The humidity needs to be replaced using a humidifier.

Humidifiers are used primarily for cold and flu seasons, and to keep the skin moist when it’s dry. The moisture relieves sinus congestion and the mucous membranes in the nose. Do not put essential oils into a humidifier unless it’s made to do so, or you will ruin the unit. Cool- or warm-mist humidifiers are now available.

The good thing about humidifiers is they help those with allergies and asthma. They also keep wood furniture, molding, and floors from drying out to crack. Papers and pictures won’t dry out either nor pianos, guitars, and other instruments made of wood.

The things people don’t like but it must be done is maintain and clean the humidifier often to keep mold and bacteria from entering lungs. Some units boil water inside and that can be a danger for kids, pets, and adults if it spills or tips over on them. The control settings always must be set to the correct humidity level especially when sleeping.

READ MORE: Top 5 Best Room Humidifiers

Diffusers for Aromatherapy

Diffusers are small units and are not machines as stated by manufacturer’s who don’t know an appliance from a lawn mowing machine. Most diffusers use electricity plugging the cord into the wall. Some diffusers use batteries and cords. Even others can be used in the car and the house or office. They put a fantastic fragrance into your space using 100% pure essential oils, usually not included with the diffuser. Babies sleep calmer all night long with a diffuser using essential oils.

Diffusers are not air conditioners as such that cool an entire place, but indeed do condition the air to make it more breathable and therapeutic with a heavenly fragrance when you choose flower fragrances such as lavender and rose. The oils do not mask odors; the oils indeed eliminate odors from last night’s liver and onions, fish, or garlic dishes to include ridding your space of dog and other pet odors. They will even remove tobacco smoke lingering in the air.

Diffusers do not usually use filters; however, most large-sized floor model humidifiers do. Being cool-mist and using cool or cold water, ultrasonic diffusers do not heat the oils to destroy the benefits from the oils.

Diffusers and humidifiers, unless the humidifier is built into the furnace, operate on alternating current (A/C) not direct current (D/C). Direct current uses batteries and these units are not that type. Vehicles use D/C current from the battery, usually 12-Volt. Direct current voltage is unidirectional (one direction) of flow of an electric charge. Direct current is produced by sources such as batteries, power supplies, thermocouples, solar cells, or dynamos. The current in your home is alternating—it flows back and forth. In the USA, Canada, and Mexico, the current is 110/120-Volts, 50/60 Hz (cycles). Users in other countries will need to buy a 220/240-Volt adapter.

Final Thoughts

I hope that the Diffusers and Humidifier Differences: Which to Buy and Why has been helpful to you for understanding the diversity and similarities for both devices. Feel welcome to comment or ask questions for a quick response. Be healthy and happy shopping!


Welcome to my blog! I am Brenda Star and I am a true believer that Nature is fascinating and enchanting. The history of herbs and their uses are captivating. I have always wondered how did the ancient people know—how did they come to understand what a plant would do. They did not experiment in a lab because those technologies did not exist. That wisdom will always be a mystery to me. More about me...

1 thought on “Diffusers and Humidifier Differences: Which to Buy and Why”

  1. Hi,
    I recently purchased an HVAV compatible unit from Air Essentials for my 3500 sq ft. home after vacationing in Mexico. I remember how the hotel lobby smelled and I wanted to bring that memory home with me. I’m having trouble narrowing down my scent preferences but love bergamot, sumatra, tangerine, lime, lemongrass, ginger, peppermint, grapefruit etc.. Liquid Sunshine from Saje is one of my favs. Where do you recommend I purchase large quantities so I can mix my own or just go with one scent? My unit has a 700 ml bottle so the little bottles are barely scratching the surface. Appreciate any advice!

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