What Can I Put in A Diffuser Besides Oil? A Guide. Suggestions and How Much.

Many of us love the beautiful scent and benefits of using essential oils in a diffuser. The range of oils is huge, so you can be sure to find one perfect for your needs. 

But many diffuser users wonder if there’s anything you can put in a diffuser besides oil, or even use it without oil? 

In this article, we are going to give you the definitive answer, plus lots of useful information on how to experiment safely with your diffuser. 

Let’s start with the short answer first, before we delve into more details 

What can I put in my diffuser besides oil? Distilled water, perfumes, extracts such as vanilla and rose, dried herbs and spices, citrus juices including orange, lemon, and lime, and vape liquid can be used in a good quality diffuser, it’s not recommended in a nebulizing diffuser. Warranties may be invalid unless using essential oils, so check first.

Ok so now we’ve seen there’s a wealth of other fragrant products to try in your diffuser. Let’s start by finding out the important stuff first. 

As a quick aside, before we get started will be concentrating mainly on electronic diffusers in this article ( the electronic ones are those with the mist, that you plug into an electrical socket).

Another important thing to remember before you begin experimenting with products other than essential oils is that the full therapeutic benefit of diffusing is only guaranteed with certified organic essential oils. 

For instance, although adding Rosemary as a ground herb, will give you a similar aroma profile to the real oil, the real benefits are in the concentration of the essential oil. 

Although we will discuss how to use perfume in a reed diffuser so you can experience your favourite fragrances and aftershaves all day round! 

“The full therapeutic benefit of diffusing is only guaranteed with certified organic essential oils.” 

What do I need to know before I add other products besides oil in a diffuser? 

  • Quality of your diffuser: Successful experimenting with products other than oils in diffuser does depend somewhat on the quality of your diffuser. So although it is perfectly safe to try other products, it could go on to affect your diffuser’s performance in the future. I have to say, I have tried many of the products I’ve listed here and so far, so good! As I mentioned before, it could be that your diffuser may clog but once again that’s so far not happened in my experimentation. I am very aware however if using dried herbs and spices to make sure they are fully ground first, so there are no sticks or other debris likely to get stuck in your diffuser.
  • Read the instructions on your diffuser: It goes without saying to read any instructions that come with your diffuser and check to see if there are any specific warnings to be aware of. So for instance if it tells you specifically not to use anything other than essential oils and if your diffuser stops working, you may not be able to claim any guarantee or warranty.
  • Warranties may be invalidated: Before we start, always read the label on your diffuser and find out first if the manufacturer recommends only using essential oils as this may invalidate the warranty. 
  • Dilute products with water: Also it’s worth noting that you always need to dilute any of the above in your diffuser, so for instance don’t simply add some herbs from your pantry and switch on your diffuser! The reason for diluting products in your diffuser other than essential oils is manyfold. For instance, if you don’t mix with water, Some of the products could clog up your diffuser.
  • Add products to diffuser after adding water: Also make sure you add any perfumes, dried herbs, dried spices, lemon, orange, or lemon juice, vanilla extract, or vape liquid after you’ve added the water. This is because the mist in a diffuser is created using ultrasonic vibrations where the water is distributed in micro-partials. So if you add the products first, it can mean they will simply sit on the bottom of the tank and not give the aroma as efficiently. 
  • Signs of fault: If your diffuser shows any sign of default, stops misting or any other fault, stop using it immediately, then clean out the diffuser following my recommendations above. 
  • Clean it out immediately after use: I would also recommend if you are using anything other than essential oil in your diffuser, make sure you clean it out each time. Cleaning is quite a simple process, simply pour out any water and residue, use a soft cloth or brush with plain water, and put a teeny amount of dishwater on the cloth or soft brush to wipe out the reservoir. A natural detergent is best if possible.

Always read the label on your diffuser and find out first if the manufacturer recommends only using essential oils as this may invalidate the warranty.”


cleaning diffuser
a soft brush and dish soap to clean your diffuser

So is there anything else we need to know before we use products other than oil in your diffuser? 

Let’s find out. 

Don’t use anything other than essential oil in a nebulizing diffuser  

Although it’s fine to experiment with products other than oils in an ultrasonic diffuser, I don’t recommend you use anything other than essential oils in a nebulizing diffuser.           

I don’t recommend you use anything other than essential oils in a nebulizing diffuser.”        

So let’s start with one of the most commonest questions I’m asked, which is whether you can add extracts such as vanilla extract to your diffuser. Read on to find out! 

Can I put vanilla extract in my diffuser? 

So we can more easily understand whether you can use vanilla extract in a diffuser, let’s first explore the properties of vanilla essential oil so we see how they compare. 

Vanilla essential oil 

Vanilla essential oil has a wealth of properties such as reducing inflammation, balancing hormones and some anecdotal evidence even suggests it can help to prevent cancers.

As a relative newcomer to the aromatherapy party, we are familiar with its gorgeous scent and taste from a range of desserts and on baking day! 

Vanilla oil has as one of its main elements, vanillin which is similar to capsaicin which is found commonly in chili peppers

Vanilla essential oil is perfect for:

  • Helping to treat skin complaints such as acne 
  • Is a great stress buster (who can resist that smell!) 
  • A gorgeous hair conditioner 
  • Soothes dry skin 

Vanilla essential is made from vanilla bean. The beans are slowly dried until they turn black, the color we are more familiar with. 

A dark brown oil is then solvent-extracted from the seed pods.

We know that vanilla essential oil is perfect to add to a diffuser, but what about vanilla extract? 

Vanilla extract is made from the pollinated pods which come from the vanilla orchid. It’s made by grinding chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water. 

Although vanilla extract isn’t as concentrated as vanilla essential oil, because of added water and alcohol, it will diffuse. However, although you will still get the fragrance, there won’t be all the essential oil benefits. So add more extract than you would usually add oil for the best result. 

You can add vanilla or any other extracts that you may find aromatic. But again make sure to dilute them when adding.

It’s quite easy to make your own vanilla essential oil to add to your diffuser which I had some fun doing! I used sweet almond oil and the results were lovely! 

How to make your own vanilla essence for diffuser 

Although a DIY vanilla oil is a little labor of love, it’s a lovely project to get involved in and there’s nothing better than creating your own scented creations to put into your diffuser! 

So for anyone wondering ‘ what can I put in a diffuser besides oil?’ read on to find out how to make your own vanilla essence.

All you will need is a clean sterilized mason jar, a couple of vanilla pods and a few days of patience! 

  • Add 8-16 ounces of your preferred light carrier oil. Suitable ones to use are fractionated coconut, Jojoba, Argon, Evening primrose, Avocado or Olive oil are perfect.
  • Slice two vanilla beans in half, carefully scrape out the insides, and add to the oil.
  • Cut up the rest of the bean and add that to the oil too. 
  • Add the cap to the mason jar, then shake or swirl to make sure the vanilla bean is completely covered in oil.
  • Place a small slow cooker on the LOW setting. Leave for 4 hours, then turn off.
  • Repeat this process daily for 4 days or as long as you like for the most concentration, and sit before use as long as you prefer and can let the oil sit as long as you like before use.

When you are ready to use the oil, strain through a very fine filter such as cheesecloth or a muslin square.

How much vanilla or other extract should I put in my diffuser? 

As extract isn’t quite as concentrated or as powerful as essential oils, you will need to add more extract than you would essential oil to get the best fragrance experience. 

Start with two teaspoons of extract per 100ml of water and experiment a little to find the right amount. The size of the room you have does have an impact as well as other factors. 

If you’d like to know more about how much essential oil to add to your diffuser, check out my helpful guide. 

adding vaniila extract to diffuser
adding vanilla extract to my diffuser

Can I put other essences in my diffuser like rose? 

There are many other beautiful extracts such as ones used in baking, like rose which are also perfect to use in your electronic diffuser. 

Start with 2 tablespoons per 100mL and add more or less depending on your preference and room size.

Distilled and tap water in a diffuser 

What can I put in a diffuser besides oil? can easily be answered by the most popular thing you most probably put in it, which is water!

Adding water to your diffuser will make your diffuser work as a humidifier. A humidifier is a device that helps in adding humidity to the air.

Humidifiers are helpful in hot or warm climates to keep the air around you moist. 

In summer a humidifier is a great way to keep dry skins at bay and is also useful in wet climates, especially during winter when artificial heating can play havoc with the moisture in the air.

Although it’s ok to add water from the faucet, if you do decide to add water to your diffuser besides oil, purified or distilled water is a good choice. Purified water is water that has been chemically purified, such as in a water filter jug, or otherwise mechanically processed. 

You can easily make distilled water yourself at home, simply by boiling the kettle and letting the water stand until it’s cold. 

However, there are a couple of drawbacks to using water in your diffuser that you should be aware of.

  • Not as much mist: diffuser wont give out as much mist as a humidifier, but it will add to the air’s moisture, so just be aware if you want the full humidifying experience, it’s worth investing in a humidifier. 
  • Shorter diffuser times: Diffusers, as compared with humidifiers, are designed specifically to use for shorter periods. This means you won’t be able to keep them running all day or as long as a regular humidifier. 

If you do decide to add water to your diffuser besides oil, purified or distilled water is a good choice. 

For anyone wondering if you can keep your diffuser running all night, head over and check out my other helpful article!

How much distilled water should I put in my diffuser? 

Follow the instructions on your diffuser for the correct amount of water. There is usually a line on the reservoir ( the tank) to show the most water to put in. Make sure you don’t overfIll the tank. 

Perfume, cologne and aftershave 

Either your favorite cologne, perfume, or even have a rummage around in your SO’s or your own aftershave collection! 

As fragrances more geared towards men, tend to have scents such as cedarwood and brighter scents such as citrus and even a rich leathery smell, they work beautifully as a room scent, or even to remind you of your loved ones when they aren’t around! 

Cedarwood is one of my favorite oils, it’s so perfect for so many uses, blends, balms, and pillow sprays! find out more about which oils mix perfectly with cedarwood!

Perfumes with a lower amount of fragrance such as a cologne will also work, but it’s worth understanding that you won’t get such an intense hit of fragrance as you would form an ‘au de parfum’ or ‘parfum’. These have the highest concentration of fragrance so will give you the best sensory experience.

There are so many ways to diffuse them, including electronic diffusers, reed diffusers, popping on a lava bracelet, or even popping on a bit of cotton wool added to your underwear drawer or wardrobe! 

Let’s discover how to add to a reed diffuser before we go on to discuss adding your favorite perfumes and fragrances to an electronic diffuser. 

How to add perfume to a reed diffuser 

Ingredients and method 

  • You will need a high necked bottle with a small hole in the top. (larger holes will allow more fragrance to evaporate ) 
  • 6-10 reeds to diffuse the scent
  • A carrier oil. a light oil works best such as fractionated coconut oil as the darker thicker oils will struggle to move up the reeds and there also be an unsightly dark color to the reeds. You can also use baby or massage oil if you prefer.
  • Either an ‘eau de parfum’ or ‘parfum

How much perfume to put in an electronic diffuser? 

  • Parfum or ‘au de parfum’ 3 – 5 drops/3 – 5 smallish sprays 
  • Aftershaves or lighter colognes including ‘au de toilette 6 -10 drops/6 -10 smallish sprays 

Make sure to add perfume after adding water. Adding them straightly to the diffuser may cause its components like chemicals, alcohol, etc., to interact negatively with the diffuser.

When you are adding fragrance such as perfumes to your electronic diffuser, as said previously, parfum and ‘au de parfum’  work better than the lighter cologne type fragrances such as ‘au de toilette’ mainly because they are much more concentrated. 

A high-quality parfum can sometimes still have its aroma even after showering the next day! So their concentration is better for diffusers. 

The best way to decant perfume into a diffuser is by using a dropper, which is fairly easily available, other than that you may need a steady hand! or if your perfume is in a spray, then try to make short sharp sprays. 

adding perfume to diffuser
Adding some of my favorite Chanel to a diffuser!


Can I add dried herbs to a diffuser? 

Powdered or ground herbs can also be added to electronic diffusers. Make sure you don’t add chunks, woody bits ( such as with Rosemary or Lavender), or rough chops of herbs that can clog easily. 

Here’s my top 10 of the best dried herbs to add to a diffuser:  

  • Lavender 
  • Rosemary 
  • Fennel
  • Basil (both Greek and regular basil) 
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint 
  • Juniper 
  • Helichrysum (Immortelle) 
  • Vetiver 

Make sure you wash out the diffuser carefully after using dried herbs. Follow the instructions at the end of the article. 

Can I put dried spices in my diffuser? 

We all love cooking with even the most basic of herbs and spices such as black pepper and a flurry of cinnamon on our mid morning latte!

We all know some of the health benefits we can get from nutmeg and ginger for example, and While they certainly add a  burst of flavor to your cooking, their beautiful aromas can also be enjoyed in a diffuser.

Here’s my top 5 spices to add to your diffuser. 

  • Cinnamon 
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Star anise 
  • Black pepper 

The best way to really get the beautiful aroma of spices in a diffuser is by grinding your own, but as long as you are using a fresh jar of ready-made spices, rather than the leftover cinnamon from the last holidays lurking in the back of your pantry! you will still enjoy the fragrance. 

If you are struggling with symptoms of cold or flu ginger will really help to keep those snuffly noses at bay, while a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg is perfect for the holiday season! Black pepper and clove both share a stimulating aroma which is perfect for focus.  

Adding some ground or whole star anise pods to your diffuser will help to purify the air and also help with flu and cold symptoms.

These beautiful spices work so well in essential oils and are so good for helping support the immune system. Head over to discover 14 immune-boosting diffuser blends, to begin your aromatherapy diffuser DIY!

How much dried spices should I put in a diffuser? 

So that you don’t add too much, or too little ground spices to your diffuser, start with 2 heaped teaspoons of spices to each 100mL of water and experiment a little to get the desired fragrance. 

Another way of diffusing spices in your home is to add them to your slow cooker or in a pan on the stove over very low heat.

Can I put fresh fruit in my diffuser?

The aroma of fresh fruit such as lemon, limes, and oranges make a super sensory uplifting aroma for, home office, kitchens, and more! 

So can you actually use fresh fruit in your diffuser? Freshly squeezed citrus juices without pips and the finely grated zest of oranges, lemons and limes although not as concentrated as essential oils will still give a pleasing aroma. The zest is where essential oils originate, so zest will give a stronger aroma than juice, as usual, dilute with water. 

Another way to diffuse the scent of citrus fruits in your home is by putting a piece of citrus peel, such as orange, lemon, and lime into your microwave, slow cooker, or on the stovetop will also diffuse their bright and sunny aroma throughout your home or workspace. 

If you decide to invest in a sweet orange essential oil, check out my article to find out 39 amazing orange blends for diffusers, pillow sprays, massage balms, and more!

How much citrus fruit in a diffuser? 

  • 2 teaspoons of very finely grated citrus peel( lemon, orange, lime) per 100mL of water 
  • 6 -8 teaspoons of fresh ( lemon, orange, lime)  juice without the pips per 100mL of water 

The only thing to bear in mind is the fact that juice and peel do contain natural sugars which could clog your diffuser, so once again make sure you clean your diffuser afterward thoroughly. 

If you want to discover whether you can use orange, lemon, or lime essential oil in place of the real fruit in cooking and beauty recipes, find out more!


adding fresh lemon to diffuser

Can I put vape liquid in a diffuser?

One of the most important considerations when adding vape liquid to a diffuser is that you may need to add more liquid than you think as vape liquid becomes more effective as heat is added and a diffuser expels cool mist. 

It’s also important to not add vape liquids which contain nicotine in your electronic diffuser. 

Some of the flavors of vape liquids certainly bring a touch of excitement to diffusing! Flavors such as banoffi pie, strawberry shortcake, vanilla bean, cherry, lemon berry pie, and more. 

How much vape liquid should I add to a diffuser? 

For anyone wondering what else can I put in a diffuser besides oil, you might be surprised to know you can use vape oil!

If you want to experiment with vape liquid in your diffuser, add 5 to 10 drops to every 100mL of water. Double flavor ones give a more intense aroma. It won’t give the same benefit or full sensory experience as essential oils. Check manufactures instructions and washes thoroughly after using. 

To finish on… 

As mentioned, remember that the full therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy will only be achieved by using certified organic essential oils, but you can have some fun with different aromas, and give your home a bespoke scent by experimenting with other products in your diffuser. 

If any unwanted aromas of any products you’ve put in your diffuser, other than essential oils linger, and also to make sure you don’t have any issues with clogging, wash your diffuser after every time you use it. 

Here’s how to remove unwanted aromas from a diffuser. 

  • Fill the water reservoir halfway to the line with clean water. Then add 10 to 12 drops of pure white vinegar to the water reservoir. 
  • Turn your diffuser on and let run for 3 – 5 minutes until the unwanted aroma has gone. 

So I hope that’s given you lots of amazing ideas on how to experiment with your diffuser, with many different products to experience a sensory explosion! 

Don’t forget to check out my other helpful diffuser articles! ‘How To Use a Diffuser‘ ‘How Much Oil in A Diffuser?’ and even ‘Can you Sleep With a Diffuser on?’

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