Diffuser vs humidifier: which one do you need?

diffuser vs humidifier

Diffuser vs humidifier: what’s the difference? A common mistake people make is confusing essential oil diffusers and humidifiers and not understanding the difference between the two. In this article, we look at the similarities and differences between a diffuser and humidifier and help you decide which one you need.

Diffuser vs humidifier: difference between humidifier and diffuser

diffuser vs humidifier

What is a diffuser? What is a diffuser used for?

A diffuser is an appliance that you use to mix essential oils with water to create a vapor that is dispersed into the air. More commonly known as an essential oil diffuser, diffusers are used for aromatherapy. This is when you get health benefits from the aroma of essential oils.

A diffuser is used to add pleasant aromas to a room while also giving health benefits.

What is a humidifier? What is a humidifier used for?

Much like a diffuser, a humidifier disperses vapors however the primary reason for using a humidifier is to add moisture to the air.

A humidifier is used in rooms where the air is dry. The vapors turn into water droplets which add moisture to the air, increase the humidity and create a more comfortable, healthy environment.

Difference between humidifier and diffuser

While both a humidifier and diffuser disperses vapor, there are differences between the two appliances.

Humidifiers are built to help increase a room’s humidity whereas a diffuser is created for the sole purpose of aromatherapy. A humidifier is usually a lot larger and more powerful than a diffuser to be able to do this.

Essential oils shouldn’t be added directly to the water tank of the humidifier. Many humidifiers now have essential oil trays so you can add essential oils to them, however many don’t.

Is a diffuser a humidifier?

A diffuser is not a humidifier. Although it emits vapor into a room like a humidifier does, diffusers are not powerful enough to add enough vapor to increase a room’s humidity.

If you plan to use the diffuser in a very small room then you may notice an increase in room humidity however if the main purpose of using a diffuser is to increase humidity, you’re better off using a humidifier.

A diffuser also uses a different process to create vapors. The is a ceramic disc inside the diffuser which vibrates and creates ultrasonic waves. These waves break down the essential oils into tiny droplets which are mixed with the water droplets and then dispersed into the air.

Diffuser vs humidifier: which one do you need?

Knowing the difference between a diffuser vs humidifier, how do you know which one you need?

If you need to increase the humidity in a room then you need to buy a humidifier. If you want the added health benefits of essential oils, then buy a humidifier that you can add essential oils to.

If you’re interested in the health benefits of essential oils and are not concerned with humidity levels, then you need an essential oil diffuser. Diffusers add more to a room’s ambience. Not only do they disperse vapors but many have soft lights too.

Most diffusers are small and don’t take up a lot of space in a room. They can be left on a shelf.

Humidifiers tend to be much larger and most need to be placed on a floor and cannot be put on a shelf. There are different humidifier designs on the market and you can find one that doesn’t look too industrial.

Humidifiers have a built-in humidistat which measures a room’s humidity. This helps control when the humidifier should be used and when it can be switched off. A diffuser doesn’t have a humidistat because it’s primary purpose is to add an aroma to the room.

Is a diffuser a humidifier?

A diffuser is not a humidifier. A diffuser cannot measure the humidity level in a room and it doesn’t have the function and ability to add substantial moisture to the air in a room. It’s primary focus is to add an aroma to the room via microscopic droplets of oil mixed with water.

One final word

When it comes to choosing between a diffuser vs humidifier, it’s a good idea to know what problem you need solved. Do you need more humidity in a room or do you just want to smell lovely aromas and get the health benefits from essential oils? If you want both, buy a humidifier with an essential oil tray but if you just need more humidity in a room, then a humidifier is your best bet.


By Christine Carlisle

Christine is a freelance senior writer for Home Health Living and has been writing for us for 4 years. She's a health copywriter with over 10 years experience as a writer. Christine lives alone in a cabin in Maine and was once a hand model while living in New York City. She's a dog person.