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Nebulizer vs. Ultrasonic Diffuser

I sat down to write this post after putting in a few drops of Bergamot oil into my new nebulizer. Golly. Not only is she a beauty to look at but with our large, open floor plan I had to actually move her into a different room because the aroma was so present! So what is better, a nebulizer or an ultrasonic diffuser? Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of these two diffusing options!


Ultrasonic Diffusers

SpaVapor 2.0 By GreenAir

These guys have never let me down. Until recently I’ve always had ultrasonic diffusers in my home. They are quiet, affordable and use few drops of oil. The rooms in our previous home were on the smaller side so the 400 sq. ft. diffusing space limit that most ultrasonic models offer was a good fit for us. Some ultrasonic diffusers have a smaller diffusing space like this one so make sure to note that when purchasing! Many ultrasonic diffusers come with light options, which can be annoying for some people, but generally kids love them. The majority of ultrasonic diffusers are plastic. This can be a good thing, or bad thing depending on your needs. Plastic is more durable and less prone to breaking (kiddos!) but can also breakdown more quickly than glass. All ultrasonic diffusers use water, which has the bonus of them doubling as a humidifier. That’s a plus for us here in Ohio with our dry winters! The amount of humidifying varies from model to model though and most that I have used have very little “mist” output.


Quick Summary Points for Ultrasonic Diffusers:

  • All use water
  • Quiet
  • Most diffuser up to 400 sq. ft.
  • Light options
  • Affordable
  • Double as a humidifier
  • Use little essential oils
  • Usually made of plastic





Last summer we moved into a new home. It is a very different space from our previous house including a more open floor plan and a few rooms with very high ceilings. I found very quickly that our ultrasonic diffusers didn’t seem to work anymore outside of the bedrooms. It felt like I had to be within a 3-5 foot radius from them to smell anything! Then comes this beautiful little lady introducing me to a world of amazing nebulizers. Nebulizers work using an atomizer technology. They do not use heat or water, you just drop the essential oils in as is and diffuse giving nebulizers a much more potent, concentrated output of essential oils. Think germ/odor DESTROYER! This type of diffuser can be used in a much larger space because of the concentration and while it requires more oils, I’ve found I need to run it much less frequently and the aroma lingers beautifully even covering paint smell after one 10 minute interval. Nebulizers also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, many with natural materials like glass and wood, which can really compliment décor. Who doesn’t like something pretty to look at? Nebulizers have been said to be louder than diffusers. I didn’t find the soft hum bothersome but it is louder than my ultrasonic diffusers for sure. While the nebulizers are more expensive there are no light options and they do require a bit more maintenance like more frequent cleaning. The only other possible con with using a nebulizer is it requires a bit more knowledge around oils. Nebulizers cannot use viscous (thicker, sap like) oils like sandalwood or vetiver without being blended with other thinner oils. So, in order to diffuse sandalwood you would have to blend with roman chamomile or sweet orange for example. You also cannot use essential oils that have been pre-diluted or are blended with a carrier oil.


Quick Summary Points for Nebulizers:

  • No water or heat
  • Atomizer technology
  • Strong concentration of essential oils
  • A bit noisier
  • Diffuse up to 1000 sq. ft. for most models
  • No lights
  • More expensive
  • More essential oils use – less run time
  • More material options including glass and wood
  • More frequent maintenance
  • Cannot use diluted blends/oils
  • Viscous oils need to be paired with thin oils for diffusing


Hopefully this is helpful to you in deciding which type of diffuser will best suit your space, family, needs and budget. For more diffuser options to purchase visit the Diffuser section of this site and come join our online community at

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  • Stephanie ,

    Thank you, this is exactly the information I have been searching for!!!

    • Bowman ,

      A con to the plastic diffusers would be the plastic. Plastic can be harmed by strong, concentrated essential oils … no one should breathe degrading plastic particles. But, it is diluted with lotsa water. I try to avoid using plastic, but the whole world is FILLED with plastic, scary…plastic clothes adorn nearly everyone. But glass essentual oil nebulizers require A LOT more oil. And they are breakable. If one can afford the expensive organic oil, That is the best health choice. And, the air quality is long lasting after a treatment with a glass nebulizer, as opposed to the heated plastic, water and oil diffuser. Why? Because a LOT more oil is dispersed into the air with a nebulizer. Slow simmering water on the stove in a stainless pan or crock pot really helps to humidify our air. Nebulizers are needed much less oten, so it equals out, unless you just enjoy the aroma constantly.

  • Suzanne Côté-Hodak ,

    Thanks so much for your research and explaining very succinctly the differences or advantages of each option.

  • Rose ,

    I noticed that you mentioned that one cannot use blend oils in a nebulizer? why is this?

    • Shannon ,

      Hi Rose, You can absolutely use blends, just not blends with carrier oils in it. They are too thick to diffuse and clog the narrow glass pieces.

  • Sandra L Coppedge ,

    First off, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I’ve been looking for this exact information! I now know I absolutely need a couple of nebulizers. I’ve put up my diffusers due to the high humidity here in Florida, and I’ve terribly sad over it!! Can you explain the mixing part, more? If not, it’s certainly ok, because I’m about to experiment myself!!

  • Brenda Star ,

    I am needing a good diffuser so badly. I’m going to check this one out!

  • heather morrison ,

    Perfect! Thank u 🙂

  • Finding the Right Aromatherapy Respiratory Support | Scentsable Health ,

    […] on and off in safe diffusing increments. If you need help deciding which is best for you, check out the blog post that helps you break down your diffusing needs! Be sure if using a diffuser or nebulizer, you are regularly […]

  • Kate Welling ,

    It would be nice to get a diffuser. I was surprised to read that this could double as a humidifier. I’ll look into this because my skin has been very dry lately.

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