Are a Diffuser and Humidifier the Same Thing?

This article attempts to answer the question: are a diffuser and humidifier the same thing?

If you don’t understand the functions of a diffuser and humidifier, it would be quite challenging to tell the difference between the two devices. You might not be able to differentiate between them because they look very much alike.  Apart from that, both machines work by emitting steam into the surrounding air.  The pertinent question now is: are diffusers and humidifier the same thing?  No, they are not the same; their functions differ.  In this article, you will be exposed to the significant differences between the two devices.


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What is Diffuser?

Diffusers are devices that spread the fragrance of essential oils. Put differently; they are meant to diffuse essential oils. Therefore, the ability to diffuse essential oils is one of the significant factors to consider when picking a diffuser.  This device is smaller in size when compared to humidifiers. As such, they hold less water; therefore, they don’t moisten the air.  Furthermore, there is a wide range of diffusers in the market. They come in different sizes, ranging from the ones that can fir your pocket to the ones capable of spreading essential oils’ fragrance over a few square feet.

The maximum water capacity of a diffuser ranges from 300 to 500 ml. Some of these devices do not hold water.  It is recommended that you use distilled water and not tap water; this is essential to prevent the buildup of minerals associated with tap water use.

A diffuser is a perfect device for people who love the fragrance of essential oils. Diffusers improve your room’s aroma.  Apart from that, it offers other health benefits as it improves skin health and reduces anxiety.  Diffusers also help to stay focused.

Do you know that you can get rid of fungus and bacteria with a diffuser?  Essential oils have an antimicrobial effect which can prevent health-related issues.  Tea oil has antimicrobial properties, thereby offering a great benefit to those having respiratory problems.  Apart from that, peppermints and eucalyptus oils boost respiratory health by cleaning the airways for unobstructed breathing.

Essential oil diffusers are of four types; there are heat, ultrasonic, nebulizing, and evaporative diffuser. So, you can choose any of these devices based on your preference.

  • Evaporative Diffusers

This is a type of diffuser that spreads the oil’s fragrance through the process of evaporation.  To use this device, add a few drops of essential oil to the filter of the diffuser. The fan propels air through the filter to cause oil evaporation, thereby spreading the aroma.

  • Nebulizer Diffusers

Nebulizers are top-performing diffusers that spread fragrance across your living space.  The device works by blowing air across the oil’s surface, causing small droplets to spread through the room.

  • Heat Diffusers

The mode of operation of this type of diffuser is similar to that of the evaporative diffuser.  The remarkable difference between the two devices is the mode of oil dispersal. This diffuser uses heat to disperse oil instead of a fan used in evaporative diffusers.

  • Ultrasonic Diffusers

You can also refer to this device as a humidifying diffuser. The mode of operation of this device is straightforward. When you add oil to water, the oil stays on the water surface. The diffuser vibrates and agitates the water, causing the oil particles to divide into smaller ones that can be easily dispersed into the surrounding air. Ultrasonic vibration is one of the best ways to spread your oil because it does not distribute the oil through heating.  One of the demerits of using heat to diffuse oil is that it renders it less effective. Some of the downsides associated with the use of diffusers include noise and high cost.

What is a Humidifier?  

A humidifier is a device that disperses moist air, thereby increasing the humidity of your surrounding air.  Apart from the comfort it brings, humidifiers come with several health benefits.  The device can help in relieving health issues like nosebleeds, snoring, cold, dry skin, flu, and many more.  The humidity level of your home should range between 30 to 50 percent. Anything above or below this range makes your living space uncomfortable.  You might not be able to maintain this level of humidity without a humidifier.

Like diffusers, humidifiers come in different types; there are four variations of humidifiers, namely impeller, warm mist, evaporative, and ultrasonic.

  • Warm Humidifier

This type of humidifier works by dispersing hot mist into the ambient air.  It boils water and forms a steam that is being spread across the room.

  • Evaporative Humidifier

Unlike the warm mist humidifiers, an evaporative humidifier adds cool mist to the air. Evaporative humidifier disperses cool mist into the ambient air by blowing air through the water absorbed by the belt, filter, or wick.

  • Ultrasonic Humidifier

Ultrasonic humidifiers disperse mist into the air through a vibration mechanism.  This device can propel either cool or warm water molecules.

  • Impeller Humidifier

This type of humidifier works by breaking the water into small droplets that can be dispersed effectively in the air.  The impeller humidifier uses a spinning disk to form the water droplets.

People who had used this product reported some downsides.  Some of the disadvantages of humidifiers include the need for regular cleaning and maintenance, inability to diffuse essential oils, and many others.  Warm mist humidifiers should be monitored closely when placed in a child’s room because it could be potentially dangerous if left to play around it.

The Three Major Difference Between a Diffuser and Humidifier?

We have examined the two products in detail.  Understanding how each product works will enable you to point out their similarities. Here we have three top differences between the two devices.  Below are the observed disparities between a humidifier and diffuser:

  • The Purposes of the Two Products are not the Same.

Without mincing words, humidifiers work by increasing the moisture in your surroundings. In other words, the purpose of a diffuser is to disperse the fragrance of essential oil through your ambient air. Some diffuser adds little moisture to your room by using mist to spread the particles of essential oils.  However, you need a humidifier for proper humidification of your room. Both devices have a distinct function; so, you can use them interchangeably.

  • The Water Tank of the Humidifier is Comparatively Bigger.

This is another noteworthy difference between the two devices. Humidifier’s water tank is much bigger than that of a diffuser.  Humidifiers are useful for relieving health condition that comes with dry air.  Some of these health issues include chapped lips, nose bleeds, dry skin, among others.  Humidifiers function by releasing moisture into the air, thereby making the area less dry.  If you need to humidify a larger space, you need a high-capacity humidifier to effectively improve the room’s humidity. In short, the effectiveness of a humidifier hinges on the capacity of the water tank.

A room humidifier usually holds about 3800ml of water, while the maximum capacity of a diffuser range from 300 to 500 ml. Furthermore, Ultrasonic diffusers break water molecules via ultrasonic sounds. Therefore, the device uses water.

  • Some Diffusers Do not Make Use of Water.

Some essential oil diffusers do not use water at all.  They work by spraying the oil directly into the surrounding. One of these diffusers is called Nebulizer or nebulizing diffusers. The downside of this product is that its price is on the high side, but they are useful when it comes to dispersing essential oils.

Can You Add Essential Oils to Your Humidifier?

Are you thinking of adding essential oils to your humidifier? If that is your plan, you should not skip this section as you are going to learn a lot.   First, you need to know that humidifiers are not designed to spread the fragrance of essential.  Therefore, it is not advisable to add it to your device.  Adding essential oil to water will impede its function because it is not meant to disperse it.

Typically, you add about ten drops of essential oils to a 400 ml diffuser. As mentioned earlier, humidifiers have larger capacity when compared to diffusers.  If you are going to add essential oils to a humidifier, you will have to put hundreds of drops, resulting in a waste of oil. So, you are advised to go for both devices if you want to humidify and add fragrance to your room.


Understanding the difference and the mode of operation of a diffuser and a humidifier will enable you to make the right choice when looking for the suitable device to buy.  If you want to get rid of dry ambient air in your room, you need to consider a humidifier.  We have considered the type of humidifiers available. Essential oil diffusers add fragrance to your ambient air. Therefore, a diffuser is the best choice when you want to improve the smell of your room.  As established earlier, a humidifier cannot work as a diffuser.  If you need to increase the humidity and boost your room’s scent, you should go for the two devices.  Also, you need to consider factors like room size, the device’s capacity, auto shut off feature, among other features before you buy any of the two products.