Woman adding essential oil to aroma diffuser

Humidifiers are easy to use and generally pretty affordable. They come in a variety of sizes with versatile functions. If you’re into homeopathy or aromatherapy, you may be wondering whether you can use your humidifier as a diffuser for essential oils. It’s only common sense to put your home products to work and multitask whenever possible, so can you put essential oils in a humidifier? We have the answers.

What Are Essential Oils? 

An essential oil is simply a concentrated plant extract. They are extracted by distilling the leaves of flowers of plants to isolate the aromatic oils contained in the plant. Essential oils can be used to add fragrance to perfume and cosmetics and they are commonly utilized in aromatherapy.

Depending on the type of plant from which it is derived, essential oils can provide a wide range of benefits from relaxation to stimulation. 

Some of the benefits of essential oils include: 

  • Relief from anxiety and depression
  • Improvements in mood
  • Reduction in chronic pain
  • Increased productivity and focus
  • Relief from insomnia

Now that you understand a little more about essential oils and their potential benefits, you may be wondering how to use them. One option is to add them to your humidifier’s water tank. But is this recommended? We’ll answer that question in the next section. 

Can You Put Essential Oils in a Humidifier? 

Essential oils are generally considered safe when used properly. Just because they’re derived from natural sources, however, doesn’t mean there’s no potential for side effects. For topical use, some essential oils must be diluted with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation. Essential oils can also worsen asthma or induce headaches in sensitive individuals. 

The safest way to use essential oils for aromatherapy is to use a diffuser designed specifically for that purpose. Diffusers break down the particles in the oil, releasing a fine vapor into the air that can be inhaled. Cold air diffusers preserve the integrity of the oil while warm diffusers may alter the beneficial properties of the oil but not the scent.

The Potential Drawbacks of Essential Oils

While diffusers are the best way to use essential oils, some people add them to humidifiers. This might technically work, but it isn’t the best thing for the device. Keep in mind that if you’re using any essential oils anywhere in your home, you need to be sure they are not toxic for any pets you have.

Essential oils have the potential to collect in the inner workings of the machine, breaking down the plastic over time. In ultrasonic humidifiers, these oils can clog the nebulizer and heated humidifiers may reduce the potency of the oil. You can certainly add essential oils to the tank of your humidifier but you should be prepared to repair or replace it more often. 

An alternative to adding essential oils directly to the tank on the humidifier is to moisten a cotton ball with a few drops of oil and place it over the mister outlet. The oil will release its scent as water droplets are sent out into the air. Cold air humidifiers can preserve the strength of the oil while warm air humidifiers may reduce the potency. 

It’s also important to remember that using essential oils this way means you’ll need to clean the grille of the humidifier daily to remove the residue that will ultimately break down the plastic.

Other Ways to Use Essential Oils 

If you’re looking for alternative ways to use essential oils, you have plenty of options. Some essential oils can be safely ingested or applied topically while others are only recommended for aromatherapy applications. 

Here are a few ways to use essential oils at home: 

Apply Diluted Essential Oils Directly to the Skin

Putting full-strength essential oils on your skin can cause irritation, so it’s best to dilute the oils with a carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil first. Apply the oils as a perfume or onto your hands and breathe deeply. 

Ingest the Essential Oils Orally

The benefits of certain oils are strongest when ingested. Always make sure the essential oil is safe for internal use and be sure to dilute it. Add a few drops of oil into a glass of water or place it in a veggie capsule. For milder oils, you may be able to put a drop under your tongue. 

Use Cotton Balls to Dispense Fragrance 

If you want to use essential oils for the fragrance, you can simply add a few drops to a cotton ball and place it where you need it. This works well in unused closets, garbage cans, or even your gym bag. 

If you’re going to use essential oils at home, make sure to follow basic safety guidelines. Always keep the oils out of reach of children and pets and keep the bottles securely closed. Double check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to use essential oils and research each oil before you use it to determine how best to utilize it.

Bottom Line

Generally speaking, it’s not recommended that you use essential oils in a humidifier. While it may not be inherently dangerous with some models, it could interfere with the function of your humidifier. That may not be the case, however, with models that are specifically designed to diffuse essential oils.

Before you use essential oils in a humidifier, make sure it’s designed for that purpose and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.