What's the Difference Between a Humidifier & Oil Diffuser?


If you’re thinking about buying a gadget to improve the quality of the air in your home, you might have considered a humidifier. You may have also considered an oil diffuser - but what’s the difference between these two gadgets?

Both humidifiers and oil diffusers can be used to improve the air in your home, but these gadgets function differently. While humidifiers are generally used to add extra moisture to dry air, oil diffusers come with the added benefits of aromatherapy. Oil diffusers can mist essential oils into the air and double-up as a humidifier, while humidifiers typically perform one sole function. 

When it comes to deciding between a humidifier and an oil diffuser, it all comes down to your own personal needs. So, what’s the difference between a humidifier and an oil diffuser, and what’s best for you? Let’s take a look.

What’s a humidifier?

A humidifier is a home gadget designed to add moisture to the air. Dry air can cause all different types of health problems and general discomfort during hot weather, so humidifiers can be used to help to alleviate and prevent these problems by increasing humidity levels. 

Benefits of using a humidifier:

Using a humidifier can be beneficial in a number of ways, both to your home and for your own personal health and wellbeing:

  • Relieve dry skin
  • Soothe a dry cough
  • Reduce sinus irritation
  • Reduce symptoms of congestion
  • Keep your home cool during intense heat
  • Prevent cracked lips and dry skin

What’s an oil diffuser?

An oil diffuser is a gadget used to diffuse and mist essential oils into the air. Typically, this type of gadget works via ultrasonic technology; a mix of water and essential oils is misted into the air either continually or at intervals, for up to 8 hours at a time (or more!)

Benefits of using an oil diffuser:

Using diffusers to inhale essential oils has been known to offer a wide range of health and wellbeing benefits:

  • Improved concentration
  • Better sleep
  • Mood regulation
  • Improved focus
  • Fights stress
  • Can help fight anxiety
  • Can relieve symptoms of depression

Obviously, these benefits are dependent on what types of essential oils you mix when using your oil diffuser. Many essential oils also offer other benefits, such as improving the air quality in your home, removing the presence of certain bacteria, and adding fresh, pleasant aromas and scents to your home.

Diffuser vs. Humidifier: What’s the difference?

The main difference between a humidifier and a diffuser is that a diffuser is designed for aromatherapy purposes, while a humidifier is designed to humidify (aka add moisture) to the air in your home. The word humidity itself translates to ‘moisture’, and that’s the sole function of most humidifiers. 

When to use a humidifier

So, when it comes to choosing between a humidifier and an oil diffuser, how can you figure out what’s best for you? Here’s some examples of when a humidifier might be your best option:

  • If you’re experiencing frequent sinus or nasal dryness and congestion
  • If the humidity in your home is frequently lower than 50 according to your thermometer
  • If you suffer from cracked lips and dry skin, and think air quality is to blame
  • You live in an area with frequent periods of intense hot weather

As with any home gadgets, make sure to be measured with your usage, and don’t leave a humidifier running indefinitely. If you leave a humidifier running indefinitely, the increased humidity can lead to bacteria growth and mould in your home.

When to use an oil diffuser

If any of the following applies to you, you might be better off opting for an oil diffuser:

  • You want to create pleasant scents and aromas in your home
  • You find it difficult to get to sleep at night
  • You don’t have any problems with dry air or a lack of humidity
  • You feel stressed, anxious or depressed regularly
  • You find it difficult to concentrate at home
  • You want to get rid of bacteria and other pollutants in the air

In general, an oil diffuser isn’t designed to just improve air quality, although it can do so by purifying the air and removing bacteria. Typically, an oil diffuser is designed to practice aromatherapy. Aromatherapy provides health and wellness benefits to those who inhale essential oils, and it’s as much a natural medicine as it is a way for you to improve the air in your home. 

The best aromatherapy diffuser and humidifier?

If you want to get the best of both worlds, you should invest in an ultrasonic oil diffuser. This is both the best aromatherapy diffuser and humidifier all in one - not only can you use it to diffuse essential oils and enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy, but it also doubles up as a humidifier.

How? It’s simple - ultrasonic oil diffusers function by using a water filter to mist out essential oils. This system inadvertently adds water to the air - so next time you’re dealing with dry air or a scorching summer day, you can fill up the water tank and simply let it turn without adding any essential oils. For double the benefits, try out a humidifier essential oil diffuser

The Bottom Line

Overall, both a humidifier and an oil diffuser can be beneficial for your home. If you’re not interested in aromatherapy, a traditional humidifier is probably the best option for you. 

However, if you’re interested in the benefits of aromatherapy and still want to humidify your home, an ultrasonic oil diffuser can get the job done with just one gadget. 


Can I use an oil diffuser and a humidifier at the same time?

Yes. As an oil diffuser and a humidifier both do two completely different jobs, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to use both at the same time. 

Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier?

Yes! If you have an ultrasonic oil diffuser, you can turn it into a humidifier by filling up the water tank but not adding any essential oils. Instead of misting essential oils into the air, it will mist moisture into the air, increasing the air’s humidity.