If you are getting into the aromatherapy game you may be confused by the different types of diffusers available. Basically, there are 4 different form factors to choose from. Each essential oil diffuser type has positives and negatives, which are covered below.
Heat diffusers are simple and inexpensive. Technically, they are probably the easiest to understand. Some type of heat, supplied by a candle or light bulb in most cases, causes your essential oils to evaporate into the air. Many aromatherapy enthusiasts find that this unevenly breaks down your essential oil.
The simpler components in your oil break down quickly and are released first, with heavier components coming later. The downsides to these types of diffusers are that they usually need to be refilled sooner than others, and are high maintenance. They can sometimes damage or even destroy your essential oils if overheated. As already mentioned, they are very affordable. They are extremely low maintenance, perfect for travel and do not make any noise.
Evaporating diffusers are equally as simple and quiet as heat diffusers. You place a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto a collecting pad or filter, and some type of heating element or fan distributes the aroma into the atmosphere. This "low tech" essential oil diffuser is very easy to use, quiet, and usually rather affordable. But like the heat method used for delivering the benefits of essential oils, it delivers individual components at different times. Not good for a large area.
Some purists believe that evaporative and heat diffusers diminish some or even all therapeutic health benefits that essential oils can deliver. Here are 2 options.
Humidifying and Ultrasonic Diffusers
A humidifying diffuser, also called an ultrasonic diffuser, will usually require a slightly larger investment than the 2 previously mentioned. There is good reason for that. These are quiet machines, and you can even purchase models that come with the sound of trickling water like a babbling brook that some aromatherapy users find soothing and relaxing.
This also acts as a humidifier, and you can purchase models that include rotating colored light options. This is not the best bet for a large room, and a higher maintenance model than most.
Atomizing and Nebulizing Diffusers
You can routinely pay more for a nebulizing or atomizing diffuser. However, it can fill a large area quickly with an evenly dispersed amount of essential oil. Heavy and light components of your oil are broken down at the same rate, so you get the most natural product into the air. Most models deliver a humming sound which is pleasing to many.
This is a low maintenance model, and you do not have to clean it after every use as with a humidifying or ultrasonic diffuser. Make sure you purchase a model with a timer. This is because you can become immune to aromas if you consistently use them for more than 15 minute sessions. Many believe this is the best all-around essential oil diffuser.