Humidifier vs Essential Oil Diffuser

This article covers information about the similarities and differences between humidifiers and essential oil diffusers. It is designed to help you make to most informed decision possible when making a purchase. Each section contains a single product review to keep things simple. If you would like to see similar products in a specific category compared to each other, there are links to product comparison articles where we go into more detail.

We begin by going over a list of similar features and functions you can find on both types of product. There are some essential oil diffusers that work quite well as humidifiers and have output capacities to add moisture to the air in an average sized room. We include a reference to an in depth article and our recommendation for the top humidifier diffuser combo.

The next section focuses on differences between humidifiers and essential oil diffusers. This is a brief overview that focuses on differences between the two product categories without getting into the details of specific products.

After that we outline a few things to look for in a well-designed single room humidifier in a convenient list. Following this list we give our favorite model on the market today and a link for more detailed reading you may find useful. We do the same research and analysis for an essential oil diffuser suitable for a large space. We specifically picked diffusers that work in large spaces since they will have a high number of similar features when compared to humidifiers.

The end of this article is a set of links comparing essential oil diffusers to a list of other appliances like nebulizers and oil burners that influence the air quality and comfort of your space.

Let’s get to it! Here is everything you need to know about the differences between essential oil diffusers and humidifiers so that you can make a clear choice.

Features of Humidifiers and Essential Oil Diffusers

Humidifiers and essential oil diffusers are designed to positively impact air quality. Both types of appliances add humidity to the air which has a host of benefits. Properly humidified air helps keep airways moisturized and comfortable, cuts down on dry and cracked skin, and even helps protect wooden furniture and home fixtures. We dive into specific details about each of these in the ‘Humidifiers’ section of this article.

There are essential oil diffusers that do not add moisture to the air called essential oil nebulizers. This article focuses on ultrasonic essential oil diffusers that do add moisture to the air. If you are interested in a nebulizer, check out this article – Essential Oil Nebulizer vs Diffuser.

The main feature that ties humidifiers and essential oil diffusers together is their ability to add moisture to the air. The specifications to pay attention to are the capacity of the water tank, which influences continuous run time. We also consider the treatable area the appliance is designed for.

With these specifications in mind, we transition to looking at specific humidifiers and diffusers in the next section. Keep in mind that these appliances are designed to maximize the area for which they can provide aromatherapy and proper humidity levels. Reviews of more space-conscious essential oil diffusers are located under the ‘Essential Oil Diffusers’ heading further down the page.

All-in-one Humidifier and Essential Oil Diffuser

Here we provide a quick review of an appliance that adequately functions as an essential oil diffuser and a humidifier. The feature we consider the most important is a high capacity water tank (average diffusers have notoriously small water tanks). Here is a comprehensive list of features to consider:

  • Is the diffuser cool mist or warm mist?
  • What is the capacity of the water tank?
  • How long can the diffuser operate between fills?
  • What size room is the diffuser designed for?

Our research and review process pointed us to the Exqline Diffuser as the best option for people interested in a humidifier and essential oil diffuser combo. As we mentioned previously, the capacity of the water tank influences runtime. It has a 1500 mL water tank, just over 1.5 quarts. This diffuser runs up to 20 hours continuously on its lowest setting. Both the capacity and runtime are comparable to single room humidifiers like the Honeywell HUL520L Mistmate Cool Mist Humidifier.

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The Exqline has a continuously variable output, meaning you can make very fine adjustments to how much humidity the diffuser puts out by turning a knob. The safety auto-shutoff feature powers the diffuser down if it ever runs out of water. It provides humidification coverage for up to 325 square feet. The aromatherapy benefits extend to 425 square feet.

For more details about the Exqline Diffuser and the URPOWER 1000 ml Essential Oil Diffuser check out We ranked the Exqline as number one and the URPOWER model as the runner up.

Essential Oil Diffusers vs Humidifiers – the Differences

One main difference between essential oil diffusers and humidifiers is their available capacities. Diffusers are available in very small sizes, some as small as 300 mL – which is 10 fluid ounces. This is smaller than most water bottles and not very practical if your goal is to add significant amount of humidity to the air. However, the small size is adequate for a single room if you are focused on aromatherapy benefits or just want the room to have a more appealing scent. If you remember back to the Exqline coverage areas, the aromatherapy area is 30% larger than the humidification area. Because of this difference, essential oil diffusers are generally designed to be much smaller than humidifiers.


Humidifiers are little appliances that turn warm water into vapor. This vapor gently fills up any room and helps to add moisture to the air. Like essential oil diffusers, humidifiers come in many different styles as well. Smaller humidifiers are great for filling up small spaces like baby rooms and bathrooms. Larger humidifiers are available on the market and they do a great job of adding moisture in the air of much larger spaces.

This link gives an informative overview of how humidity works in the home and reviews the TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier – The unique feature we loved about the TaoTronics humidifier is that it comes with a built in humidistat. The humidistat allows the humidifier to automatically regulate humidity levels within a user-defined range.

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Benefits of Humidifiers

The benefits of a humidifier differ from those of an essential air diffuser because of one big reason. Humidifiers are generally not designed to be used with essential oils. So while you will still get benefits, you will not be able to customize them the same way that you would with an essential oil diffuser. Here are some benefits that you will see with a humidifier:

  • Relieve congestion – Humidifiers add water to the air that works to combat that dryness that can cause congestion. This is similar to how taking a warm shower helps with congestion. Adding much needed moisture to help loosen mucus and restore your airways.
  • Heals dry skin – Sometimes in the colder months it seems that no matter how much lotion you use, there is no cure for dry skin. The main cause of this is the very low moisture levels in the air. Cold air is not able to hold as much absolute humidity, which is different from relative humidity. The exact details of the physics go beyond the scope of this article. If you are looking for a very technical read, check out this article.
  • Prevents nosebleeds – The same dry air that cracks your skin can cause nose bleeds. Sometimes dry air gives people nosebleeds because the capillaries inside your nose are very close to the surface of the skin. Once this skin cracks it is very common for it to bleed for a short time.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers serve many different purposes, but mainly they are meant to distribute essential oils into the air. By using gentle heat and steam, essential oil diffusers work to slowly fill your room with natural scents. The warm air that circulates will not only be rich in fragrance, it will also help to add moisture to the air which helps to combat the dryness.
essential oils
There are a couple different styles of essential oil diffusers available on the market today. From heat sourced diffusers to evaporative diffusers, the science and benefits are still the same. The biggest feature difference is that one generates cool air stream while the other mists a warm oil steam. You can choose which works best for you based on what type of experience you want.

Benefits of Essential Oil Diffusers

The most appealing thing about an essential oil diffuser is all of the benefits you can get out of one product. Here are some of the top reasons why people prefer to use an oil diffuser in their home:

  • Better for sleep – By combining an air diffuser with calming essential oils like lavender, some people notice they fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  • Easier breathing – Using an essential oil diffuser can help reduce inflammation which can cause congestion. For treating congestion, essential oil users often turn to eucalyptus or camphor oil for their diffusers. This is along the same lines as using Vicks VapoRub or Vicks VapoPads in a compatible personal steam inhaler.
  • Keeps the room smelling fresh – In colder weather it may not be practical to open the windows depending on where you live. This lack of air circulation can leave certain rooms a little stuffy and stale. While you are waiting for the weather to warm up you can stay comfortable with the pleasant scents of your favorite essential oil.

If you decide to use an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser, you will also have the added benefits of properly humidified air. Earlier we talked about the way ultrasonic diffusers dilute essential oils in their water tank before turning the mixture into a mist. This mist lets the diffuser add water to the air the same way a cool mist humidifier does.

As promised, here is a link to our in depth review of two ultrasonic essential oil diffusers suitable for large spaces You might remember the two products we named as the best all-in-one humidifier and essential oil diffuser. These are the same products – the Exqline Essential Oil Diffuser and the URPOWER 1000ml Essential Oil Diffuser. This is makes sense because an essential oil diffuser that functions similarly to a humidifier will be able to treat a large space or entire room.

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We covered a ton of information in this article! There were several product recommendations and a lot of advice on what to look for if you want to do some of your own research. The rest of this article is a set of links comparing essential oil diffusers to a list of other appliances like nebulizers and oil burners that influence the air quality and comfort of your space.

Further reading

Here is a list of other essential oil product comparisons we have on

  • Essential Oil Diffuser vs Candle – Here we contrast the simplicity of using a scented candle with the endless variety of scents you can create with an essential oil diffuser.
  • Essential Oil Burner vs Diffuser – Dive deep into what you really want out of your essential oil experience. Click here for some insight into do’s and don’ts when it comes to scents and the potential for therapeutic benefits from your essential oils. Some of the highlights include
  • Wax Warmer vs Oil Diffuser – Another head to head match up with scented wax warmers. This time it goes up against essential oil diffusers. This is a pretty interesting read if you are looking for solutions for your  home or office.
  • Essential Oil Nebulizer vs Diffuser – This is one of the most hotly debated match ups in the essential oil world. The main reason is because both nebulizers and diffusers are great choices for your essential oil experience. Because of this, people feel strongly about each of them.


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