Humidifier vs Diffuser: Understanding the Differences and Benefits of the Two

There is so much confusion between humidifiers and diffusers. The two appliances appear to function similarly but serve two different purposes.

While both are used for therapeutic effects, one helps maintain the moisture level in the air, while the other is popular for aromatherapy.

To help you further understand the difference between the two — so you know which one you need — we have a humidifier vs diffuser guide in store for you today.

Humidifier vs Diffuser

What Is the Difference Between a Humidifier and Diffuser?

Let’s now take a look at the basic functions of the two devices.


As the name suggests, humidifiers increase moisture in the air. Humidifiers are commonly used in homes located in arid regions or during winter. In other words, humidifiers are used when the air is drier than usual since cold air doesn’t hold as much water.

You can find four types of humidifiers:

  • Warm mist humidifiers produce a warm mist that can be seen and felt. The mist is cleaner than a cool mist and can be used to treat the flu and cold. People commonly use it in cooler climates, and the device is almost soundless. These humidifiers require cleaning more frequently.
  • Cool mist humidifiers are most effective in larger areas. The humidifier contains a filter that traps impurities and releases an invisible cool mist into the air. It works well in dry, warm climates. It is noisier than warm mist but easier to clean.
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers use a metal diaphragm and fan to create and introduce water droplets to the air. The humidifier is silent and releases a cool fog into the air.
  • Evaporative humidifiers are slightly louder than ultrasonic ones. Evaporative humidifiers use a fan to evaporate water vapors into the air from a wick.

No matter which humidifier you opt for, they all serve one function: maintaining the moisture level in a room. But due to the technology and humidifying methods used, some are more expensive than others.

Why do you need a humidifier?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that the ideal humidity level in the home should be between 30 – 50%. Homes that have levels lower than the specification put occupants at risk. Some risks include dry skin, asthma, nosebleeds, and snoring.

A humidifier can help resolve such issues. You can also use it to treat symptoms related to flu, colds, sinus congestion.


Diffusers are used for aromatherapy along with essential oils. Essential oils are diffused and released in the air to freshen up the aroma of a room. You can find tons of different oils with different scents to use with the device, based on your aroma preference.

Like the humidifier, there are four types of oil diffusers: evaporative, nebulizing, heat, and ultrasonic.

  • Evaporative diffusers use a fan to spread the scent throughout the room. It contains a filter that soaks up the oil, and the fan evaporates the oil quickly into the air.
  • Nebulizing diffusers feature an air steam and jet nozzle, which breaks down the oil and spreads it into the air. It essentially creates a mist with the evaporated oil. All the oil’s chemical compounds stay attached for you to reap all of its benefits.
  • Heat diffusers evaporate essential oil into the air. Usually, the oil used for heat diffusers is mixed with water. You can find heat options that use both high and low-intensity heat. We recommend using low intensity to keep the chemical compound of the oil in place when it evaporates.
  • Ultrasonic: The diffuser uses a mix of water and electronic frequencies to create vibrations that evaporate and diffuse the oil into the air.

Similar to humidifiers, the price varies between the types of diffusers.

Why do you need a diffuser?

The impact a diffuser has depends heavily on the essential oil you pair it with. The apparent reason to buy a diffuser is for aromatherapy, a healing treatment that promotes health and well-being. Some essential oils and other aroma compounds can be beneficial for your psychological or physical well-being.

By using a diffuser, you can also reduce the presence of fungus and bacteria in a room. Indeed, diffusers can help prevent some health issues, but it all depends on the essential oil you use.

Essential oils we recommend using at home

The benefit that diffusers provide users depends heavily on the type of essential oils you use. The following oils have numerous advantages and are recommended for use at home.

  • Peppermint oil can aid digestion, invigorate, and energize. You can also pair it with Eucalyptus and use it to help clear your airways when you have a cold.
  • Lavender oil has a calming effect. It helps you relax and fall asleep when paired with chamomile, frankincense, and ho wood. Lavender oil can even help relieve headaches and migraines symptoms.
  • Eucalyptus oil helps clear your mind and relax.
  • Lemon oil is used for refreshing and cleansing. It can help put you in a better mood.
  • Frankincense oil induces a relaxing, meditating, or calming effect.
  • Citronella oil is excellent for spring and summer. It also acts as an insect repellant.
  • Rosemary oil enhances alertness and brain function while also promoting relaxation.
  • Thyme oil reduces nervousness, stress, and fatigue.

These oils work well only with diffusers. Please make sure you do not consume the oil in any other way.

How do humidifiers and diffusers work?

The technique employed by each device depends on the type of humidifier or diffuser you have. For example, a warm mist humidifier boils water to create steam into the air. In comparison, heat diffusers use heat and a filter to diffuse essential oils into the air.

We have already covered the different types of humidifiers and diffusers, as well as how they function. Now let’s go over the pros and cons of the two.

Humidifier vs Diffuser: The Pros and Cons

Let’s put the two applianced head to head in a humidifier vs diffuser battle and discuss their pros and cons. The two might have completely different objectives but do provide similar benefits.

Humidifier Pros

  • Adds moisture to dry air through either a warm or cool mist.
  • You can find a humidifier specifically for dry and cold weather.
  • A warm mist humidifier can help you deal with symptoms related to flu and cold. It works like steam, providing relief for a sore throat, dry cough, and sinus problems.
  • Make it easier for you to sleep and relieve you of snoring. The humidity in the air plays a role in how well you sleep. The recommended level of humidity is between 30 – 50%, which will help you sleep better.
  • Cleaning most humidifiers is easy. But the warmer the mist, the harder it is to clean.
  • You can use tap water in all types of humidifiers.

Humidifier Cons

  • Designed only to be used with water—it doesn’t work with essential oils.
  • Cool mist humidifiers can be noisy.
  • You need to make sure that the humidity level doesn’t rise above the 50% recommended. It could make it difficult for you to sleep.

Diffusers Pros

  • Along with the scent of a room, diffusers can enhance the mood.
  • Some oils will purify the air, eliminating bacteria and fungus.
  • Oil is easily absorbed by the skin, leaving you moisturized and feeling more relaxed.
  • The cool mist produced by the diffuser can reduce snoring and help you sleep better.
  • Depending on the oil you use, diffusers can elevate energy levels and reduce mental fatigue.
  • It clears your airways to help you breathe with more ease.
  • It can enhance the functioning of your digestive system.

Diffusers Cons

  • Essential oils can be expensive. After some time, the costs will rack up.
  • You could develop an allergic reaction to an oil, so be sure to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about the oil you’re using.
  • Some research is required to determine which oil is the most beneficial for you since not all have the same benefits.

Our Final Thought

That concludes our humidifier vs diffuser guide. The two devices employ similar techniques but serve two different purposes. A humidifier is used to add moisture to the air, while a diffuser provides benefits based on the essential oils you pair it with.

However, both do contribute substantially to improving the air quality and comfort level in your home. You could receive benefits linked to sleeping and physical and psychological well-being.

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