Getting Started with Essential Oil Diffusers

This article contains affilate links. 

Welcome to Diffuser Essentials. I have strived to put together a website that is useful, unbiased, and safety oriented.  If you are new to essential oils and diffusing, this article will give you the basics you need to get going. I include some links at the bottom if you want to learn more.

Essential oils are extracted from the leaves, flowers, bark, and resins of plants. They are a concentrated substance and have lots of therapeutic benefits ranging from easing congestion to being antimicrobial. I started using essential oils as a way to keep my family (with two school aged children) a little healthier. It has worked for us.

Diffusion is one of the best ways to use essential oils. Often with essential oils, less is more and overuse is not recommended. The advantages of diffusion are:

  • Since the oils are so concentrated, diffusing them into a fine mist dilutes them into the volume of air in your room. It’s harder to get too much (but still possible).
  • The fine mist of oils can get into your lungs and be transferred directly to your bloodstream. It is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to get oils into your body.
  • Smelling pleasant scents can have an instant effect on our emotions. Essential oils work on our limbic system, which is tied to our olfactory bulb (at the top of our nose).   But, more than that, the limbic system controls some of our hormonal processes as well, so smells can also have a physical effect.

How to use a diffuser:

By far the most popular diffusers are ultrasonics. These have become very affordable in recent years.  To use these diffusers, add lukewarm water to the reservoir no higher than the fill line. Place about 5 drops of essential oils in the reservoir and turn it on. That’s it. An ultrasonic can be used for up to 30 minutes, two to three times per day. More is not necessary.

Some ultrasonics come with intermittent mist settings. You can extend the time your diffuser is misting by choosing a model with this feature. For example, if it mists 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, you could run it up to an hour and still get the equivalent of 30 minutes of misting.

There are other types of diffusers. The nebulizer uses undiluted oils and is best for when you are fighting an illness or other short term complaint.  A passive diffuser lets essential oils just evaporate into the room. If you are only interested in scenting your room naturally, this is my top choice as it is so gentle.  You can’t turn off an essential oil’s therapeutic benefits just because you are using them for fragrancing, so a passive diffuser will help you to avoid getting too much.

Which oils should I use?

There are a few individual oils that are very useful to have on hand such as Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint. For the beginner, it can be simpler to start with pre-made blends.  My favorite company to recommend to beginners is Plant Therapy. They are the only company selling on Amazon that I trust, but you can also order directly from them. The reasons I recommend them are:

  • They have qualified aromatherapists on staff to answer questions
  • They have a special KidSafe line of oils and blends that were developed in consultation with noted safety expert Robert Tisserand
  • They test their oils for purity and authenticity
  • They offer good quality oils at a reasonable price
  • They have several pre-made blends for various issues, and many have corresponding KidSafe equivalents

If you are hoping to use a diffuser to stay healthy, Germ Fighter is the one to use if you have been exposed to sick people or feel something coming on. Germ Destroyer is the KidSafe equivalent. Immune Aid (Kid Safe Immune Boom) is a great choice when you are stressed out and trying to keep your body resilient.

Find KidSafe Essential Oils for the Little Ones at Plant Therapy. (affiliate link)

Diffusers are perfect for respiratory complaints as well since they bring oils in direct contact with your respiratory system. Clear Again and Sneezy Stop are two blends to open up respiratory passages.

There are plenty of other blends to help with mental focus, relieving stress, calming a stomach, headaches, and much more. You may have to read between the lines a little to figure out what a blend is for, since the FDA does not allow companies to claim that essential oils can treat anything.

You may have a friend that sells essential oils. Some companies sell their oils using network marketing. These oils are fine, albeit overpriced to pay all the uplines/downlines their commissions. What is not fine is some of the information being passed along by these sales reps is not safe.  In short, do not let people convince you:

  • To drink essential oils in your water (doing this regularly has caused people kidney disease)
  • To apply essential oils to your body without being significantly diluted, about 1 drop of essential oil into 1 tsp. of vegetable oil is a good rule of thumb
  • That a bad skin reaction is just your body detoxing. Using undiluted oils can cause sensitization–which is a kind of allergic reaction due to overexposure, not detoxing.
  • That one brand is superior or more safe, especially don’t believe the lie that safety precautions don’t apply to pure oils. Safety precautions were written for pure oils, not adulterated ones!

In general, get your essential oil information from books instead of the internet until you are familiar enough with aromatherapy to know what is good advice and what is bad advice (there is more bad advice than good right now). The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everday Wellness by Purchon and Cantele is a user friendly guide with more than enough information to get you started.


Diffusing oils is pretty safe, but you should use extra caution when you have young children around. Lavender is generally safe around babies, but 2 years old is the minimum recommended age for many oils. The KidSafe oils mentioned above are formulated for children 2-10 years old. Children’s organs are still developing so don’t risk overburdening them.

Pets, in particular cats, may not have the ability to metabolize essential oils. If you have pets, you will want to do further research into which oils are safe for your pets.

And, for all of us, some oils may interact with medications, or be inappropriate for some medical conditions. Most essential oil sellers will list safety precautions on their website.

Links to articles with more information:

To learn about how aromatherapy works using a diffuser read How Aromatherapy Works.  In this article I discuss how essential oils affect our olfactory system and enter our bloodstream via the lungs.

I advocate using aromatherapy safely.  If you are new to aromatherapy, be sure to check out my top Safety tips.

When you are ready to choose a diffuser, the best place to start is with my  Guide to choosing an essential oil diffuser.

Once you know what you are looking for in a diffuser, our product finder can help you filter by features.

If you have any questions, feel free to Contact Me or leave a comment. My goal is to help people diffuse effectively and safely.

First Published March 2015. Last updated January 2018