How To Use An Essential Oil Diffuser


I’m often asked how to use an essential oil diffuser and the best way to get the top benefits from them. 

Many of us eagerly open our brand new beautiful diffusers and can’t wait to start experimenting with essential oils to create a beautiful sensory experience and to experience the therapeutic benefits! 

In this article, we will work through all the steps of how to use one right from the right places to put them in and to finally turn them on! I will mainly concentrate on ultrasonic oil diffusers but will add a little info on ceramic and reed diffusers too. 

So before we get into the details let’s look at the brief answer first, so you can get started enjoying your diffuser straight away! 

How to use an essential oil diffuser? Choose the safest place for your diffuser, open the lid, (either by lifting, rotating, or popping, fill the tank/reservoir up to the maximum line (usually around 100mL or follow manufacturers instructions) add essential oils, close the diffuser, and put back all removed caps then switch on. 

So now we’ve got the short answer so you can get started straight away using your essential oil diffuser lets look at how you can get your diffuser up and running in 5 easy steps.

  • 1.Choose the right place to place the diffuser 
  • 2. Open the diffuser 
  • 3. Fill the water tank/reservoir with water up to the maximum line
  • 4. Add any essential oil/s of your choice 
  • 5. Close the diffuser (put back all the caps you removed) and switch on. 

Step 1. Choose the right place for your diffuser 

Choosing the right place for your diffuser is important to make sure you get the maximum benefit. 

Welcome to Willow Yard
Welcome to Willow Yard

Some say you need to put it in the middle of the room, but it does depend on your room layout and your reasons for diffusing. 

For instance, if you are using your diffuser as a room fragrance, it will of course make sense to put your diffuser as centrally in your room as possible, so the aroma is more evenly distributed right across your room area.  

But if you are working at your desk for example, and are diffusing some uplifting zingy orange, lemon, or bergamot oil to focus, then you will want your diffuser to be closer to you for the maximum effect. 

To find out 39 beautiful ways to blend orange oil in diffuser blends, pillow sprays, bath recipes, and more, head over to find out more!

Other things to think about are maybe you have placed a reed diffuser with a welcoming aroma of cinnamon and spruce to welcome your holiday guests, so you would want to place that in a console that may be fairly near your front door so your guests are hit with the festive aroma as soon as they walk in. 

If you are using your diffuser for relaxation before sleep then of course, you will want the diffuser to be as close as possible to you for maximum effects, so placing it on a bedside table would work better than placed centrally in your bedroom. 

Lavender oil is one of my favorite oils to blend for sleep. Check out how Lavender blends with beautifully floral ylang-ylang or head over to find 21 of my specially curated oils and blends for calm and relaxation!

Where not to put your diffuser 

Another thing to keep in mind when discovering how to use essential oil diffusers is that the mist emitted from the diffuser will have particles or oily substances from the essential oil. 

So make sure the location of your diffuser you choose is away from any kind of items that might be affected by this. For example, choose a location that avoids: 

  • Books or important paperwork 
  • Glassware or crystal 
  • Electronics 
  • Other delicate items

Another main consideration where deciding where to put your diffuser for maximum effect is to also avoid: 

  • Direct heat sunlight
  • Any other heat sources. 
  • Open windows 
  • Fans 

“Some say you need to place diffusers in the middle of the room, but it does depend on your room layout and your reasons for diffusing.” 

open diffuser tank

Geranium oil is one of my absolute favorite oils for skincare, diffusers, and even in the garden! find out more about this beautiful oil here!

Always place on a flat surface 

The main criteria after deciding where to place your diffuser in your room are to always ensure it is on a flat surface. 

This will help to prevent any spilling while the diffuser is running. Keep a small towel under the diffuser, just in case there is any excess water or it spills for any reason while running. 

This towel will be more necessary if you’re placing the diffuser on wood or any other porous surfaces. 

If having a towel underneath your diffuser isn’t a design look you appreciate, there are small little guest towels or flannel-sized towels which are available in all kinds of colors to harmonize with the rest of your decor. 

Step 2. Open the diffuser 

Opening the diffuser is pretty simple, but depending on the type of your diffuser it may vary. 

In general, most diffusers tops open by: 

  • Rotating the lid 
  • Popping 
  • Simply just lifting the top of the diffuser.

Once you take off the top of your diffuser, you will be able to access the internal water tank ( sometimes called a reservoir). 

Some diffusers can have two tops that need to be opened to reveal the water tank. 

One top will be for decorative purposes, whereas the second to trap any excess water you add.

If you see two tops, you will also have to open the interior top/casing to access the water tank. 

If you’re still unsure how to open it, you can always refer to the manufacturer’s guide for instructions. 

diffuser switched on
rotating my diffuser to open it

 

Step 3. Fill the diffuser (water tank/reservoir) with water 

Before filling, make sure to use distilled or filtered water that is at room temperature (69 °F (21 °C) or below your body temperature. 

Tap or mineral water can leave sediments that will clog your diffuser.

First, fill a small cup of water with water as specified and pour it into the internal water tank/reservoir. The water tank will have a line or any other marking indicating the maximum amount of water you can add. Never add water more than this indication. If you do, the water will overflow and the diffuser might not work properly. 

Some diffusers come with a measuring cup that holds the right amount that should go into the diffuser. If you don’t see any indications or markings, refer to the guide which will specify the maximum quantity of water the tank can hold.

Step 4. Add essential oil/s 

Once you’ve filled the tank with the correct amount of water, add 3 -5 drops of any essential oil of your choice per 100mL of water. 

This is a general guide as to how much oil to use, but if you want to know more in detail, don’t forget to check out my article How Much Oil in a Diffuser? Sizes and Drops, a Guide

One way to add drops of oil into your diffuser is by holding the bottle at a slight tilt well over the tank and then shaking in the right amount of drops. 

This is quite a reasonable way to add oil to your diffuser, but it can be difficult to get an exact amount of drops and it can also lead to oil particles escaping outside the diffuser which could be damaging to items or at best, be a waste of expensive essential oils. 

Most essential oils come with a shaker top, which can be removed by gently levering it off. I usually find a teaspoon handle works well or you can use your nail if you like. 

Then by using a pipette you can drop in exactly the right amount of oil straight into the water without any waste or excess oil traveling outside of the water tank. 

Then when you have added your oil, screw the lid back on your essential oil bottle and you are good to go! 

“Before filling, make sure to use distilled or filtered water that is at room temperature (69 °F (21 °C) or below your body temperature. 

 

Step 5. Close the diffuser (put back all the caps you removed) and switch on 

Put back the tops/caps/casings you removed to fill the diffuser. Make sure the top is flush and locked properly to avoid spilling and other electric shortages while the diffuser runs. 

Then just on the switch at the wall and switch on the button on the diffuser. Depending on your diffuser, some may have multiple options or setting you need to specify for the diffuser to switch on or run. 

If you’re unsure of how to turn on the diffuser, use the manufacturer’s guide. This guide will also have details of more advanced settings and features that you can make use of. Never turn on the diffuser unless it is filled correctly with water and the cover is on.

“Make sure the top is flush and locked properly to avoid spilling and other electric shortages while the diffuser runs.” 

diffuser switched on

Other settings 

Some larger or more advanced diffusers will have time settings such as on the image of my favorite diffuser, which means you can enjoy your diffuser for an hour, 3, or 6 hours. 

As you can see from the image, there is a convenient push-button on the front of the diffuser, underneath the main lid for you to choose your settings. 

As with any electrical appliance it makes sense to ensure your diffuser is turned off diffuser if unattended even for a short while, as the mix of electronics and water could be disastrous!

So now we know how to get an electronic diffuser working perfectly, you might be wondering exactly what happens if you overfill your diffuser? 

Let’s find out. 

What happens if you overfill a diffuser? 

There are two ways of overfilling your diffuser, one is adding water over the waterline and another is by adding more than the instructions allow. 

The main reasons it’s important to not overfill a diffuser are: 

  • Protect the electronics 
  • To prevent water from spilling out from the diffuser 
  • To keep the correct ratio of oil to water 
  • The water won’t evaporate properly. Although you still will smell the scent, the mist will not appear. You can tell by holding your hand over the hole.

How to use a ceramic diffuser 

Using a ceramic diffuser is as simple as adding water, oil, and adding a heat source, (usually a candle) As ceramic styles can be varying sizes, it’s important to remember not to overfill the water chamber as this could cause damage to surfaces the diffuser is placed on and never leave unattended.

As a general guide, add distilled or filtered water leaving ½ inch from the top. 

Go ahead using the methods above for adding aromatherapy oils, using 2 – 3 drops. 

A tea light with a long burning time will ensure your diffuser can give you long-lasting enjoyment. 

However, make sure to check the water levels regularly as the water and oils can evaporate fairly quickly in smaller diffusers.

if you want to discover whether a ceramic burner or an ultrasonic diffuser is best for your aromatherapy blends, head over to discover more!

How to use a reed diffuser 

A reed diffuser usually comprises a pack of reeds and a bottle of essential or fragrance oil. To use a reed diffuser, unpack them and place the reeds in a bottle of fragrant oil with the top left off. Turn the reeds occasionally to absorb the oil and naturally diffuse the aroma into the air. 

How to use a lava bead diffuser 

Simply add 2 to 3 drops of oils or a combination of oils (lemon, lavender or peppermint are perfect) to a teaspoon of carrier oil, mix in a small jar and then rub gently onto your diffuser, using your fingers or a cotton wool bud. If using your finger you can inhale the aroma for extra benefits!

I usually recommend mixing oils first with carrier oils for lava bead diffusing, as, given the potency of the oils, some of them are best not applied directly to your skin. 

If you’ve got any more questions about lava beads, or even want to know how to know if lava beads are real, their top benefits, and why you need one, or lava bead meanings in life, spirit, emotion, and strength don’t forget to check out my other articles! 

And finally… 

So there you have it! Everything you need to know about using your diffuser! 

My tip tips and techniques to get the maximum benefit out of essential oils and the sensory joy of using a diffuser. 

If you love diffusers as much as I do, don’t forget to check out my other helpful articles! Can You Use Any Oil In A Diffuser?, How Much Oil In A Diffuser, Sizes, Drops, A Guide, Can You Sleep With a Diffuser on? and one of the questions I’m most frequently asked, ‘ What Else Can I Use In A Diffuser, Besides Oil!

This content has been checked and verified by a medical professional or aromatherapist The article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

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