What’s the Difference Between Diffusers and Humidifiers?

Difference Between Diffuser and Humidifier

Have you ever wondered if diffusers and humidifiers may be used interchangeably? Or should we say, can you use a diffuser as a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home? Can essential oils be used in a humidifier to make your home smell nice?

You may have some pressing questions when it comes to the difference between diffusers and humidifiers.

But let me tell you, in this article, we will provide you answers to these often-asked questions.

You’ll also understand the key distinctions between diffusers and humidifiers.

These answers will then make you make informed decisions and purchase the best devices for your home.

Who knows? A diffuser and humidifier may be useful additions to your home and suit your indoor air quality demands.

Diffusers and humidifiers improve a room’s air quality but are different in many ways, just like their functions.

What benefits you seek from the air in your home will determine what you require.

You are in the right place if you are here to learn and understand the simple difference between these two amazing pieces of equipment for your home.  

Difference Between Diffusers and Humidifiers

Diffusers and Humidifiers are two unique devices, and the primary distinction between diffusers and humidifiers is that they were designed for different purposes.

Your humidifier is intended to provide moisture to the air, typically to alleviate the effects of dry air and cold weather, such as sore throats, congestion, and dry skin.

Diffusers were designed to add aromatic oils to the air, not to increase humidity.

Humidifiers are commonly available in two variants. Cool-mist humidifiers, also known as evaporative humidifiers, make use of nebulizers and a wet-wicking filtration system.

The wet-wicking technology removes minerals and other impurities from your water, resulting in a refreshing mist that disperses throughout your room.

Warm-mist humidifiers are another type of humidifier. They frequently boil water to release steam and moisture into the air. Neither of these devices nor their technologies mix well with oils.

Following that, on more differences between diffusers and humidifiers, we’ll go through diffusers and how their technology interacts with oils. Diffusers are classified into two types: ultrasonic diffusers and atomizing diffusers.

Water and essential oils are combined in the diffuser with ultrasonic diffusers.

When you turn it on, the diffuser vibrates a plate or disc at the bottom of the water reservoir using electronic frequencies.

The vibration fragments the water, changing it into a mist that transports the oils as it floats out of the diffuser and fills the room.

Is it possible to utilize an ultrasonic diffuser as a humidifier? Let’s say yes and no.

While ultrasonic diffusers do provide moisture to the air, their reservoir is usually smaller than that of a humidifier, so they cannot contribute as much moisture to the air as a humidifier would.

An atomizing diffuser, often known as a nebulizer, is the other type of diffuser.

Atomizing diffusers rapidly pump air down a trough of essential oil, creating a vacuum that converts the oil to a vapor that exits from the diffuser.

This mist resembles that of an ultrasonic diffuser, except that the atomizing diffuser produces unadulterated oil rather than a blend of oil and water.

Let’s look at the main and other components that make up the difference between diffusers and humidifiers:

1. Purpose

Humidifiers: The primary purpose of a humidifier is to add moisture to the air to increase the humidity level. They commonly alleviate dry air conditions that cause dry skin, respiratory issues, and discomfort.

In contrast, Diffusers, on the other hand, are primarily used to disperse essential oils into the air, creating a fragrant and therapeutic atmosphere. They are commonly used for aromatherapy, relaxation, and to enjoy the benefits of essential oils.

2. Mechanism

Humidifiers: Humidifiers work by releasing water vapor into the air. They have a water reservoir or tank that is filled with water. This water is then converted into moisture and dispersed into the surrounding environment through various methods like evaporation, ultrasonic technology, or a misting mechanism.

Diffusers: Diffusers disperse essential oils into the air as a fine mist or vapor. They typically have a water reservoir and use ultrasonic vibrations or other mechanisms to break down the essential oils into tiny particles, which are then released into the air.

3. Benefits

Humidifiers: Humidifiers help increase humidity levels, relieving dry skin, dry nasal passages, etc. They can also help to alleviate symptoms of allergies and asthma caused by dry air.

Diffusers: Diffusers allow for the inhalation and absorption of essential oils, which can have various therapeutic benefits. They are often used to promote relaxation, improve mood, relieve stress, support respiratory health, and create a pleasant environment.

4. Safety Considerations

Humidifiers: Proper maintenance is essential to prevent mold and bacteria growth. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the water reservoir and other components are necessary to ensure clean and healthy moisture output.

On the other hand, Diffusers are generally safe to use, but it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the type and amount of essential oils to use.

Some essential oils can be harmful or irritating if misused or in excess. It is also part of its safety recommendation to keep diffusers out of reach of children and pets. 

5. Cost

Another difference between diffusers and humidifiers is in terms of cost. Diffusers are generally less expensive than humidifiers.

Diffusers can range in price from $10 to $100, depending on the type and features, while humidifiers can vary in price from $20 to $200, depending on the type and size.

6. Maintenance and Cleaning

Humidifiers: Humidifiers require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent the buildup of mold, bacteria, and mineral deposits. The water reservoir and other components should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Diffusers: Diffusers also require cleaning, but the process is generally more straightforward than humidifiers. Cleaning typically involves rinsing out the water reservoir and wiping down the diffuser.

7. Noise Level

Humidifiers: Depending on the type and model, humidifiers can produce noise during operation. Ultrasonic humidifiers tend to be quieter, while evaporative humidifiers may generate more noise due to the use of their fans.

Diffusers: Diffusers generally operate quietly, especially those that use ultrasonic technology. They emit a gentle, low-level noise that is often considered soothing.

8. Aesthetics

Diffusers: Diffusers are often designed aesthetically and can serve as decorative elements in a room. They come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, including ceramic, glass, wood, or plastic diffusers.

Humidifiers: humidifiers also come in attractive designs but primarily focus on functionality rather than aesthetics. The main goal is to humidify the air and maintain a comfortable environment efficiently.

9. Energy Consumption

Diffusers: Diffusers are typically designed to be energy-efficient, primarily using electrical energy to disperse essential oils. The energy consumption is relatively low, especially for ultrasonic diffusers.

Humidifiers: Humidifiers often consume more energy than diffusers, especially larger ones designed to humidify an entire room. Ultrasonic humidifiers are generally more energy-efficient than warm mist humidifiers, which use heat to produce steam.

10. Variability in Features

Diffusers: Diffusers come with various features, such as timer settings, adjustable mist levels, LED lights, and automatic shut-off when the water runs out. These are the features that point out the difference between diffusers and humidifiers; they enhance the user experience and allow more control over the diffusion process.

Humidifiers: in the case of humidifiers that offer adjustable humidity settings and built-in hygrometers, their features are generally more focused on humidity control and less on ambiance-related features like diffusers.

11. Use in Different Seasons

Diffusers: Diffusers are used year-round and are not season-dependent. You can enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils in any season, adjusting the scents to suit your mood or taste.

Humidifiers: Humidifiers are commonly used during dry seasons, such as winter. When indoor heating systems can significantly reduce humidity levels, they help counteract the dry air and maintain a more comfortable environment for breathing and general well-being.

12. Effect on Pets

Diffusers: While essential oils can benefit humans, some can harm pets, especially cats and dogs. Certain essential oils may cause adverse reactions or toxicity in animals, so using diffusers in pet-friendly areas is vital.  

Humidifiers: They are generally safe for pets when used with plain water and without essential oils. Adding moisture to the air can benefit some pets, especially those with respiratory conditions. However, like any electrical appliance, ensuring the humidifier is out of reach of curious pets is essential. 

13. Coverage Area

Diffusers: Diffusers are typically suitable for smaller to medium-sized rooms, such as bedrooms, living rooms, or offices. The mist from the diffuser may need to be increased to humidify larger areas adequately.

Humidifiers: Humidifiers come in various sizes, and their coverage area can range from small rooms to entire houses.


What is the difference between Diffusers and Humidifiers? Having discussed this topic thoroughly, it should be easier for you to choose if you have plans to get one.

The choice between a diffuser and a humidifier depends on the individual’s needs and preferences, as they also have a lot of similarities.

For example, a diffuser may be the best option if someone is looking for a device to disperse essential oils and create a calming atmosphere.

A humidifier may be the best option if someone is looking for a device to add moisture to the air and alleviate respiratory problems.

It is also essential to carry out proper precautions, like reading the manual booklet that comes with either of these devices before using.

This will give you a better understanding of your devices and how to care for them for better efficiency. 

Lastly, remember to consider your pets if you have any. 

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