There are several different types of aromatherapy diffusers which can be used to inhale essential oils. They range from the simple, inexpensive terra-cotta diffuser, to the nebulizing diffuser, which turns scent molecules into micro-fine droplets which permeate the air. When it comes to using essential oils for inhalation, each type of diffuser is effective, and has its own particular characteristics.
Terra-Cotta Essential Oil Diffusers
Terra-cotta essential oil diffusers are the easiest to use, the least expensive, but also the least efficient. They do have their purpose however, being ideal for providing aroma molecules for a small area. They do not require electricity or a motor, and can easily be transported anywhere. Terra-cotta essential oil diffusers can even be a personal source of aromatherapy for an individual when worn as jewelry.
A terra-cotta essential oil diffuser has an opening, which is often sealed with a cork. Drops of the desired essential oils are added to the opening. The scent molecules soak into the very porous terra-cotta diffuser. They then slowly dissipate into the air. This type of aromatherapy diffuser releases molecules over a limited range. It also tends to be more potent when the essential oils are first placed in the diffuser; as time passes, the aroma is not as strong.
Fan Essential Oil Diffusers
Fan essential oil diffusers can be very useful, especially in large spaces. The essential oil is placed onto an absorbent pad, which does have to be replaced. This pad is placed within the diffuser. A fan blows the molecules from the absorbent pad, dispersing the scent molecules into the air.
A larger fan can service a huge space, or a number of rooms, while a smaller fan will only be effective for a smaller area. Fan aromatherapy diffusers can be noisy, although there are models which are designed to create a minimal amount of sound. Without using heat to diffuse the scent molecules, these types of essential oil diffusers are potentially more therapeutically beneficial than electric heat diffusers. They also can be used with the thicker oils, such as patchouli and cedarwood, which generally cannot be used with nebulizers. Also, with replaceable pads, a fan essential oil diffuser does not require cleaning after every use.
Electric Essential Oil Diffusers
An electric essential oil diffuser uses both a fan and heat energy to spread scent molecules. Like a fan diffuser, it can be used with thicker oils, and is not as difficult to clean. To use an electric aromatherapy diffuser, essential oil drops are added to a filtered plate. The electric heat slowly warms the plate, causing the molecules to be released. The fan then acts to disperse the healing aroma compounds.
Although an electric essential oil diffuser can be easy to use and efficient, the heat can destroy some of the beneficial compounds. On the positive side, these types of diffusers can come with timing options, making it possible to set the aroma to spread for a set period of time.
Nebulizing Aromatherapy Diffuser
A nebulizing diffuser, also known as an atomizer, is considered the best option when looking for the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy. They are also the most expensive and most difficult to maintain. A nebulizing diffuser consists of a base, usually made of plastic, which holds the motor; and a glass piece. The essential oils are processed within the glass part; they are broken down into extremely small, separate molecules. These molecules are readily absorbed by the body. Also, being so small, they are also light, and tend to remain suspended in the air for a longer period of time, increasing the efficiency and therapeutic effect of nebulizers even more.
Although these diffusers tend to facilitate the most potent use of essential oils for inhalation, nebulizing diffusers should only be used for a few minutes at a time to prevent an over-concentration of scent molecules in the atmosphere. The glass part of a nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser needs to be washed after every use. Eventually, the pieces may break, and need to be replaced. Also, the thicker oils are not recommended with nebulizers.
Other than the extra care however, a nebulizing diffuser is an ideal choice for professional aromatherapy and therapeutic use. The other essential oil diffusers all can be used as well, and in many cases can be more convenient, especially if just stepping into the art of healing with aromatherapy.