What is an Aromatherapy Diffuser?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

An aromatherapy diffuser is a device which allows the scent of essential oils and aromatherapy scents to disperse into the air. There is a wide range of aromatherapy diffusers that vary in terms of their technological complexity. One of the simplest ways to infuse a room with the scent of an aromatherapy oil is to simply add a few drops to a tissue or cotton ball and place the tissue or cotton ball in the center of the room. The scent will slowly disperse into the air in the room.

Aromatherapy oils can be enjoyed through direct application or fragrance diffusers.
Aromatherapy oils can be enjoyed through direct application or fragrance diffusers.

A tissue or cotton ball aromatherapy diffuser is especially useful in small spaces such as closets, vehicles, and cabinets. Just a few drops of an essential oil such as balsam or grapefruit can scent an entire car quite nicely. Although this rudimentary kind of aromatherapy diffuser works perfectly well, there are electronic devices on the market that do the same job. There are a few companies that sell electronic diffusers that are designed to plug into the ports for cigarette lighters.

Reed diffusers are often used to disperse scented oils into the air.
Reed diffusers are often used to disperse scented oils into the air.

Some diffusers that are designed for use in the home rely on the heat of candles to disperse scent. These kinds of diffusers are often made of clay or glass. They are formed with a small well where the oil is placed. Beneath the well is a small space that fits a tea light. When the tea light is lit, the flame warms the well above it and diffuses the oil. This kind of aromatherapy diffuser is very common and is easily found in many home shops and stores that sell bath and beauty products.

A lamp ring is a kind of aromatherapy diffuser that, like glass and clay diffusers, uses heat to disperse the scent of an aromatherapy oil into the air. This is a circular ring that may be made of ceramic or glass and fits around the top of light bulbs of standard sizes. Oil, which is placed into the shallow center of the ring, warms up and fills the air with scent when the lamp is lit. There are some lamp rings that are made of s sturdy, fire-resistant kind of cardboard. Unlike ceramic or glass lamp rings, these are not ideal to use with more than one scent. While glass and ceramic lamp rings can be washed and used with a number of different scents, cardboard lamp rings are not washable.

Some electronic aromatherapy diffusers are made to plug into a vehicle's cigarette lighter.
Some electronic aromatherapy diffusers are made to plug into a vehicle's cigarette lighter.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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