The best Essential Oil Diffuser

- Sep 14, 2017-

We spent more than three weeks testing 13 diffusers, and our favorite is the XD601 Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser. It has nearly three times the capacity of most other options at its price, and it has the same clean design as diffusers that cost more than five times as much. It will change the ambience of any room, with light in multiple colors, mist, and a subtle scent.


Who should get this

If you want your place to smell nicer, a diffuser is a solid alternative to candles. Because a diffuser can't catch fire, you can leave it on in one room while you're in another, or while you're sleeping. Unlike candles or more passive scent dispensers like Glade PlugIns, you can vary the scent just by choosing a different oil. A diffuser will also make any bath feel a little fancier.

While researching this guide, I saw blog post after blog post—often on sites that had the word "wellness" in their name—about what essential oils can do for your health. But there's little scientific evidence to back up those claims. Berkeley Wellness, a rare "wellness" site that relies on peer-reviewed research and is edited by an MD, has a good summary of what researchers do and don't know. We can recommend diffusers here only for their ambience, not their aromatherapy capabilities. An essential oil diffuser should never, ever be a replacement for medical care.

How we picked and tested

where can i buy essential oils

All diffusers will do the basic job of making a room smell nice. But pick one at random, and it might be too small, produce a weak stream of mist, clash with your decor, or have buttons that are confusing to operate. Before we get to those details, though, we
need to note the different kinds of diffusers—ultrasonic diffusers and nebulizers.

The most popular electronic diffusers are ultrasonic diffusers. Such models have a small tank of water to which you add a few drops of essential oil, or more if you prefer a stronger smell. A vibrating diaphragm in the diffuser turns the water and oil into fine, cool mist (like boiling, but with force). Because they light up and produce a stream of mist, they are nice to look at, but the scent they produce is subtle compared with that of nebulizers or your average scented candle.

If you want a stronger smell and can spend more money, consider a nebulizer, which diffuses oil directly by blowing compressed air through it to turn it to mist. These models cost about $100, can be loud, and aren't as interesting to look at, but they produce a more concentrated smell.

I spent three weeks using a selection of ultrasonic diffusers and nebulizers in numerous locations around my apartment. I quickly eliminated a few for having undesirable design elements, like taking up a lot of space or having buttons that I found impossible to navigate without looking at the manual. I also paid attention to the noise level from the nebulizers, which produce a buzzing sound when at full-blast.

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