What’s the Difference between a Humidifier and a Diffuser

These two appliances look very similar. However, you will find that looking alike is just about all that they have in common. Therefore, what is the difference between humidifier and diffuser?

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However, to understand the difference between these two appliances, you need to know what both of them are intended to do. That way, you will not mistake a humidifier for a diffuser and vice versa.

For the sake of the people reading about these appliances for the very first time, we shall describe them briefly below. That way, they will not be confused by diffuser vs humidifier reviews.

What is a humidifier?

This appliance release moisture in the form of mist into your indoor air. Therefore, it increases the level of humidity in the house.

If you have a hygrometer at home, you can check it often to know when your indoor humidity has gone low so that you can crank up the humidifier.

However, today’s warm or cool mist humidifiers come with a humidistat. This function enables them to start automatically when there is low humidity.

It enables them to turn off automatically when the optimum humidity level is attained.

Image of humidifier and diffuser
Seneo Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier, 2.5L

Because of their ability to enhance sleep, help with dry skin and chapped lips, enhance hair health and basically make the air more breathable, humidifiers have become very popular.

In addition, in winter when we turn our heat on, the air becomes too dry. Therefore, it warrants the use of a humidifier to increase humidity.

What is a diffuser?

The internet and access to information regarding alternative medicine and therapies from the east has ushered in a big age of aromatherapy.

In return, this has made diffusers very popular. They break down essential oils into small particles and disperse them into the air.

Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier? This is a common question. Most first time buyers ask this when they realize that both the diffuser and humidifier can come from one brand name.

However, apart from looking alike, these two appliances are quite different. A diffuser will break essential oils into small particles and then disperse them into the air.

That way, you can enjoy relief from stress, anxiety, congestion, colds and even swollen sinuses.

However, if you have underlying chronic illnesses such as asthma, you should ask your doctor what essential oils you should use.

In addition, if you are using the essential oils for your baby, ask your doctor.

Types of Diffusers

Diffusers come in different types. Here are the most popular types:

Nebulizer Diffusers

With this type of nebulizer, you will find that it has a tube that takes the essential oil. In addition, an air jet is added to blow air in the tube, thereby creating a vacuum effect.

The vacuum effect causes the essential oil to be sucked to the top of the tube, where it then drops out in tiny droplets that spread easily into the room, spreading over a longer distance.

Ultrasonic Diffusers

This type of diffuser is more of an ultrasonic humidifier and diffuser. In that case, you add the essential oil into the water so that it floats on the surface of the water.

In addition, a disk or diaphragm vibrates at high frequency to cause the water to break the essential oils into small droplets.

These minute particles of essential oil then disperse into the room in the form of fine mist. Therefore, this makes the ultrasonic diffuser and humidifier very effective.

Evaporative Diffusers

Inside this type of essential oil diffuser, you will find a pad or filter. Therefore, you add oil to the filters or pads and then the blow fan whips the oil through the filter. The fan helps the oil to evaporate faster and spread throughout through the room.

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Heat Diffusers

Heat diffusers are almost similar to warm mist humidifiers. In addition, they work in a similar way with the evaporative diffusers because they use heat to evaporate the oil instead of a fan.

Can you use a diffuser as a humidifier?

This is another of the commonly asked questions regarding diffusers vs humidifiers. However, the answer is no, you cannot.


Yes, there is a but, if you get one of the aromatherapy humidifiers the combines a diffuser and a humidifier, you can use a humidifier as a diffuser.

Later on in this post, you will see why as we delve into the main differences between these two appliances.

A diffuser cannot work in the same way as a humidifier. First, it does not work entirely with water. It uses essential oils. Therefore, you cannot use one in place of the other.

However, some people do add a dash of essential oils into their humidifiers. This can help, but it is not recommended.

You see, if you do that too often, you may compromise the quality of the tank and the operation of your humidifier.

In that case, we had better delve right into the main differences between humidifier and diffuser.

1. Diffuser vs Humidifier: Build Material

From a casual glance, both appliances are made of plastic. However, that is as far as the comparison goes because the types of plastic used are as different as day and night.

For instance, the essential oil diffuser is made with high quality ABS plastic. ABS plastic is the same material that is used in 3D printing. It is the same type used to make automotive parts, electronic parts, appliance parts and drone bodies.

This resilient type of plastic is also light in weight, strong and does not crack easily. However, the main reason for using this plastic to make diffusers is that the acids and chemicals available in essential oils cannot harm the diffuser. Therefore, it will last a long time in great shape.

On the other hand, the humidifier only handles water. Therefore, it is made with a different plastic type, Polypropylene, which is also a high quality plastic. However, since there are no acids or chemicals in water, it is not as resilient as the ABS plastic.

While you may add a drop or two of your favorite mint, lavender or eucalyptus essential oil into your humidifier tank do not make a habit of the same. You could end up destroying the tank.

2. Essential oil diffuser vs humidifier: Uses

When it comes to the uses of each of these two appliances, you start to notice many differences. One of them is that the humidifier pumps out mist into the room. This can be cool mist or warm mist, but cool mist humidifiers are more popular.

Does a diffuser add moisture to the air? Now, we would like to mention that some diffusers also disperse water molecules into your room.

Therefore, such can double as humidifiers, but they will only disperse a small amount of water. In that case, you might not rely on such if you live in a place that has some seriously dry air.

A diffuser will do just as its name suggests. For instance, to diffuse is to disseminate into small units. In this case, it is going to break down the essential oils into small particles and then disperse them into the air.

Therefore, people who really need good aromatherapy must have a diffuser. If you have essential oils for dry air, you can run a diffuser and a humidifier at the same time.

Therefore, if you are an aromatherapy enthusiast, you should invest in both the humidifier and diffuser. In addition, you will need a good dehumidifier in summer, so you can go ahead and get one for your home.

Basically, the uses of humidifier vs diffuser seem to overlap, but only so far. A humidifier with diffuser might not give you serious aromatherapy. It does not break the essential oils very well. At the same time, a diffuser cannot increase the indoor humidity.

3. The price of humidifier vs diffuser

Overall, diffusers cost more than humidifiers.

A humidifier is quite simple by design. Therefore, no complex parts are used in the appliance. Therefore, the cost of production is a bit lower

This means that less cost is passed down to the buyer. However, a humidifier with aroma diffuser can cost much more. However, it still does not cost as much as a diffuser.

When it comes to the diffuser, it contains complex parts since essential oils require more power to break the molecules down.

Therefore, since it takes more to produce a diffuser, the same cost is passed down to the buyer. In addition, the ABS plastic used to make essential oil diffusers is costlier than the PP plastic used to make humidifiers.

Even a humidifier and aroma diffuser unit is made with PP plastic.

4. The dispersion range

What’s the difference between a humidifier and a diffuser when it comes to the range of dispersion?

Well, a humidifier can only disperse mist within a certain range. However, even for that to happen, you have to buy one that has a space rating for the room that you want to humidify.

On the other hand, a diffuser is quite powerful. Therefore, it is possible to place one in one room of your home and feel the aroma of the essential oils in every room at home.

Even the mists from the two appliances are quite different. For instance, the diffuser breaks down the essential oils into really small molecules that are easy to disperse much further.

On the other hand, the water molecules from the humidifier can only go so far.

5. The kind of help each appliance offers you

This is yet another difference between humidifier and Diffuser. A humidifier can help with dry skin, dry hair, coughs, congestion and other things. However, it has a side effect, especially if you decide to use an ultrasonic humidifier.

It can cause humidifier white dust on your appliances, furniture and floor. However, except for being a nuisance, this dust is really not harmful. All the same, you can learn how to stop humidifier white dust.

On the other hand, an essential oil diffuser has many medical benefits. For instance, depending on the type of essential oils that you choose, you can get relief from colds. You will also benefit from anxiety and stress relief.

Image of Can a diffuser be used as a humidifier
Qingsun Drip Shape Mini Car USB Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier

Other essential oils help you to relax and even sleep better. It can also help to de-congest your chest, heal your sinuses and even calm migraines.


Those are the main differences of essential oil diffuser and humidifier. Therefore, you cannot buy one and use it in place of the other. If you have been asking: can you use a humidifier as a diffuser? The answer is, avoid it unless it has a built-in diffuser.

Is a humidifier with diffuser a real thing? Yes it is. In fact, you can save more money by buying a two-in-one unit because it will also use less electricity.

Perhaps we might also mention that in addition to humidifier and diffuser, you might also want to buy a dehumidifier and an air purifier.

You only live once but if you live it right, once will be more than enough. Make all your time indoor as comfortable as you can, with the right appliances.

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