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What Is a Diffuser? The Secret to Creating Ambiance

Unlock the secret to creating instant ambiance with the ease of one device: the diffuser. What is a diffuser, you ask? Let’s discover how this inconspicuous little machine can pump a space full of aroma and benefit everyone around.

A couple sitting on a couch with an aromatherapy diffuser.
Photo credit: YayImages.

The Science Behind Diffusion and Why It Matters

Diffusing essential oils is a quick shortcut for setting the mood for your next relaxing bath, study session, or date night.

In short, a diffuser is a small device that disperses essential oils into the air. Oils are diluted in water and then released into the space at a regulated concentration over a period of time.

This process works with aromatherapy principles, a holistic practice that uses plant extracts to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being.

According to Medical News Today, aromatherapy is a complementary therapy for these conditions:

  • Stress, anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue and insomnia 
  • Pain and muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Circulatory issues
  • Menstrual and menopausal problems.

Principles of Aromatherapy

As aromatic molecules disperse into the air, we inhale the small particles and they interact with our olfactory receptors. These receptors are located in our nasal cavity and help us smell. Receptors first detect a smell and then communicate the stimuli to the brain, allowing us to recognize and enjoy different scents.

Scientists identify the limbic system as the recipient of these signals. This system is principally involved in behavioral and emotional responses, memory and stress, often called the fight or flight response.

Familiar smells, memory and emotions are deeply related. That’s why a vanilla diffuser blend can remind you of holiday sugar cookies baking in the oven and invite warm and comforting feelings associated with quality family time during the winter holiday season. Essential oil blends for men add a masculine vibe to any space and will make you think about spices, musk, the woods, and anything manly.

Summer diffuser blends will remind you of your happy memories at the beach and will make you feel like it’s summertime no matter what season it is.

Furthermore, highly concentrated natural extracts from leaves, flowers, stems, roots and fruits contain compounds such as terpenes, esters, aldehydes and phenols which have unique effects on the body and mind. Therefore, different scents can target various aspects of wellness.

Reed diffuser with flowers and candles on a table.
Photo credit: YayImages.

What Are the Different Types of Diffusers?

A diffuser is an easy way to fill a space with beneficial scents customized to your needs and preferences.

There are four main types of diffusers. Consider the size, water capacity, color, and noise level while shopping for the best essential oil diffuser for your needs.

Ultrasonic Diffusers

An ultrasonic diffuser contains a small disc that vibrates to generate ultrasonic waves breaking down essential oil-infused water into tiny particles. The liquid transforms from the water tank into a fine mist that gets pushed into the air.

These are especially beneficial if you also want to add moisture to the air.

Nebulizing Diffusers

Nebulizing diffusers, also called cold air diffusers, rely on a suction effect, created by exerting high pressure in a small space, to draw essential oils from a glass reservoir into atomized particles and then release them into the air.

This plastic-free design is one of the purest ways to diffuse oil.

Evaporative Diffuser

There are two types of evaporative diffusers: active and passive.

Active evaporative diffusers use a small fan to accelerate the evaporation and may or may not require diluting oil in water. This design produces a quick effect but may degrade the oil’s potency.

Passive evaporative diffusers include reed diffusers, pendants, clay or terracotta diffusers and room sprays. These are very affordable options for beginners. However, they produce a more subtle and short-term effect.

Heat Diffusers

Heat diffusers may use a tea candle or eclectic power as the heat source. The oils are warmed, so consider using heat-resistant options. This is a silent method, great for small spaces

A woman is pouring essential oils into a diffuser on a table.
Photo credit: YayImages.

How to Use Essential Oils for Ambiance

Creating the perfect ambiance with essential oils is a delightful experience. Essential oils can produce many positive effects, from boosting focus and productivity while you work or declutter the house to enhancing sleep quality and relaxing after a long day.

For best results, check your unit’s manual and follow instructions for how many drops of essential oil to add to your diffuser for every session. Using the right amount allows for a balanced distribution of scent.

Diffuse Single Oils

Piedmont Healthcare rounds up the most popular essential oils and their benefits. 

Here are some highlights:

Diffuse Essential Oil Blends

Instead of using a single oil, you can make blends based on your desired result or favorite feature ingredient. Take ginger essential oil diffuser blends as an example. Each unique blend recipe includes ginger essential oil, known for invigorating the mind and reducing feelings of fatigue and lethargy. You can also try essential oil blends for relaxation, which are combinations of the best calming, soothing, and relaxing essential oils.

Other blends may include:

  • Lavender + bergamot
  • Rosemary + peppermint
  • Lemon + tea tree
  • Orange + grapefruit + lemon
  • Frankincense + orange + lavender
  • Ylang ylang + sandalwood + bergamot

I diffuse lavender and lemon essential oil on my nightstand each night. The lavender helps me relax and get a good night’s sleep, while the lemon helps me manage seasonal allergies.

— Sage Scott, Everyday Wanderer

Opportunities for Ambiance

Create memorable moments with custom scents that yield an intentionally impactful experience for everyone in the room.

Consider using a diffuser for:

While diffusing with essential oils is appropriate all year long, you may be more inclined to do so during the dark, cold weather months. When you feel cooped up, use woodsy essential oil blends to bring the great outdoors inside and freshen the air.

Tips for Diffusing at Home and in the Office

First, always consider the health implications of certain oils and speak to your physician about any concerns or questions.

Second, keep the diffuser and all essential oil bottles out of the reach of children and away from pets.

Thirdly, each type of diffuser requires a specific level of cleaning and maintenance for the best long-term results. Read over the manufacturer’s guide and follow the directions accordingly. Wiping with a damp cloth and natural soap is sufficient for cleaning a machine.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, an essential oil diffuser is a helpful tool to assist your efforts of creating a natural and enjoyable ambiance for any occasion that promotes holistic well-being.

Curate the scent to perfectly match the mood and enjoy a pleasant atmosphere in any indoor space.

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.


Friday 15th of September 2023

This article was so informative....never knew there were so many diffuser types. And thank you for the opportunities for ambiance section, so many good ideas!!


Thursday 14th of September 2023

I've seen diffusers for sale but wasn't really sure how to use them. After reading this article I decided to finally buy one! I'm embarrassed to say that I used to just sprinkle my favorite essential oil blend in inconspicuous places around my house to try to create a pleasant ambience. No more!

Easy Homemade Life

Sunday 17th of September 2023

That's the perfect start, Aly!