What Is the Difference Between Humidifier and Diffuser

a humidifierPeople have developed preferences of having houses fitted with appliances that can control and moderate indoor environment. These appliances are either designed to freshen up the air by adding favorable amounts of fragrances (diffuser) or balance the room’s humidity level (humidifier).

However, people often get confused between these two appliances, which beg the question – what is the difference between humidifier and diffuser?

The primary difference between both the appliances are that diffusers tend to be smaller devices that are commonly used to disperse fresh-smelling essential oils, while diffusers are larger appliances that are specifically designed to regulate humidity and the moisture level in the air.

What is a diffuser?

Sold worldwide in various sizes, shapes, and types, diffusers diffuse essential oils in the air for aromatherapy purposes. Hence, it should never be confused with a humidifier, since diffusers are built specifically to convert and mixes drops of essential oils with water, which is later dispersed in the air.

There are four different types of diffusers: evaporative, heat, nebulizing, and ultrasonic. Each one of these diffusers is primarily designed to vaporize a fine mist of essential oils with a cold effect to aromatize the room area.


  • Diffusers effectively distribute essential oils that enhance the mood of the room
  • The air around a diffuser gets purified and smells fresh.
  • The dispersed essential oils can be absorbed by the skin and give you a very relaxing effect.
  • Diffusers can reduce the amount of unhealthy fungus and bacteria in your room.
  • Certain essential oils can help you breath better and reduce snoring.
  • Some diffusers are fitted with special lighting effects that help to relax, remove fatigue from your mind and elevate your energy level.


  • Diffusers can be a little costly side since the appliance has to be a good one to evenly distribute essential oils on all corners of your room.
  • Some diffusers are not fixed with adjustable lighting features that can be quite disturbing during sleeping hours.
  • There are some diffusers that tend to be noisy and disturbing.
  • Diffusers are fitted with a comparatively smaller water tank that may require more frequent refilling than a humidifier.

What is a humidifier?

When it comes to maintaining the moisture level in your room, a humidifier is a perfect appliance for it. It helps moisturize dry air that is common during peak summers and winters.

As such, dry skin can cause many problems like viral and bacterial problems, dry skin, etc. It also makes it more difficult for people to fall asleep. Humidifiers can also be used by people suffering from sinus congestion, flu, and cold.

Humidifiers are very different than diffusers because you cannot mix essential oils in a humidifier since it is made up of plastic components that are incompatible with oil. Essential oils can break down the plastic components of humidifiers, therefore leading to damage.

While a diffuser first nebulizes the essential oil and then disperses it, making it easy for the body to absorb it, on the other hand, a humidifier can do no such function and will only disperse the essential oil without nebulizing it, leading to wasted oil and damaged components.


  • A humidifier’s primary purpose is to add moisture to dry air in form of mist, thereby treating and moisturizing it.
  • The added moisture benefits the lining of the nose, thereby relieving problems like dry skin, dry cough, sore throat, and sinus.
  • The moisture in the room provided by a humidifier also gives additional relief to people suffering from allergies and asthma.
  • Snoring can be eliminated because the moisture released by a humidifier softens the hardness of the air being breathed in while sleeping.
  • Additionally, the moisture in the air also keeps wooden furniture from cracking.


  • A humidifier needs additional cleaning and more maintenance than a diffuser to keep it running at an optimal performance level.
  • The appliance cannot be used with essential oils; if used together, the oil can end up damaging the humidifier.
  • Humidifiers can be very noisy at times.

Diffuser vs. Humidifier

difference between humidifier and diffuserBoth these devices may look similar, but in reality, each one of them is different from the other:

1. Purposes

One main difference between humidifier and diffuser is that both these appliances are made for different tasks. A diffuser is used with the intention of distributing essential oils across the length of the room, ensuring the aroma of the house is maintained and meets the requirements of the user.

On the other hand, a humidifier is made with the purpose of controlling the humidity in a room and preventing air from drying out.  Dry air is responsible for a significant number of uncomfortable health ailments like dry skin, sinus, dry cough, and crackling of lips… Humidifier prevents such ailments by eliminating humidity and dry air.

2. Tank Size

Most humidifiers are fitted with comparatively bigger tanks than a diffuser to battle against the problem of dry air more effectively. Large tanks need to be fitted on humidifiers to raise the humidity level throughout the room. The tank may store up to a gallon of water. Contrary to a humidifier, a diffuser can hold a maximum of 500 ml of water.

But, most diffusers are made without the need to hold much quantities of water since it just needs to spray essential oils in your room, not water.

3. Operational methods of a humidifier and diffuser

Diffusers and humidifiers also differ on how they operate. The two devices use drastically different methods to disperse water/essential oils within the room.

While humidifiers use spray nozzles to provide humidity in a room, diffusers make use of a bit more advanced ultrasonic vibration, which breaks down the oil particles into microscopic oil particles, which are combined with the mist in its tank and sprayed in the air.

4. Cost

Another paramount difference between humidifier and diffuser is the cost. Generally, a diffuser is more costly to buy and maintain as compared to a humidifier.

This is because a diffuser is fitted with technology that helps break down complex essential oils and ensure that the simplified oil is dispersing throughout the room.

Meanwhile, a humidifier just sprays moisture in a room, hence it is cheaper to buy and maintain.

5. Safety for children and pets

If you have kids or pets at home, it might be safer to opt for a humidifier. While essential oils can be beneficial for adults, there are certain oils that can cause breathing problems in children or animals. For example, peppermint oil has a chemical called menthol-one, which can cause breathing problems in kids and pets.

On the other hand, humidifiers are comparatively safer than diffusers for children. Although, there are some types of humidifiers that should be handled carefully with kids around like warm mist ones. Such humidifiers pose a threat of hot water spilling all over a child or pet. Hence, to be on a safe side, you should go for cool mist humidifiers.

If your favorite activity at home is winding down and relaxing with a little aromatherapy, a diffuser is a right instrument for you. But, if you are living with a group of people, then a humidifier is the best bet.

If you are living with children or pets, a humidifier is a better as it does not trigger any allergies that can be caused by essential oils. If you feel you are still stumped, you can go for an ultrasonic diffuser that offers the benefits of both a humidifier and an oil diffuser.

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