Fresh lemons and spicy ginger…
Those are the scents drifting over my writing area right now. I love my essential oils, and I love my cool mist essential oil diffuser humming along beside me.
Essential oils have blessed me and my family over the last few years. I've learned and discovered so much — and am eager to share!
What Are Essential Oils?
Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. –Proverbs 27:9
Essential oils are the volatile oils extracted from certain varieties of trees, bushes, herbs, and grasses. They can come from roots, twigs, bark, resin, fruits, leaves, and flowers. It all depends on the plant and the oil desired.
Steam-distillation and cold-press methods yield the most desirable oils. And oil prices reflect the effort it takes to obtain them.
Jasmine oil, one of the most expensive, takes 8 million blossoms to yield just 2 pounds of oil. Thankfully we measure them by the drop, not by the gallon. 😉
Essential oils are finally reaching the mainstream consciousness. This is due in part to direct sales network marketing, which is bringing the world of essential oils into more and more homes. People have started to realize that they are more than just a pleasant perfume — they are very potent.
How Can They Be Used?
Essential oil diffusion is one of the safest and most common ways to use them. Diffuse in your home or personal space, or even your office, if you're allowed!
Stephanie Tallent — co-owner of Beeyoutiful — guided me through the many different essential oil diffusion methods.
Heat-Based Diffusion Vs. Cool-Based Diffusion
There are 2 main categories of essential oil diffusion.
Heat-based diffusion methods include steam/boiling water, candle-flame diffusers, electric diffusers with refillable pads, and light bulb rings. They usually have a smaller dispersion range that works well in small spaces. Although aromatherapy has utilized heat for a long time, some say that temperature damages the therapeutic factors in some oils.
Cool-based diffusion methods include plant mister diffusers, ultrasonic cool mist diffusers, and nebulizing diffusers.
There are also fun, personal, and portable diffusers available. Some are heat-based, some cool. Some plug into car lighter sockets and USB ports. Some people take their diffusers to the hospital, or even on airplanes! My sister brought her diffuser to the hotel we stayed in together. Our oils filled the hotel room with fragrance and helped us to unwind, relax, and sleep deeply.
Whether you choose heat-based or cool-based essential oil diffusion, buy a device with an oil receptacle made of non-porous material. This ensures easy cleaning and use again with a different oil.
Additionally, consider the size of the area to be treated, the oils to be used, and the reason for using. The space treated could be very personal such as an office cubicle, moderately-sized like a bedroom, or large such as a chapel during a wedding.
There are many reasons for using essential oils, including medicinal purposes, increased mental focus, or simply wanting a nice fragrance for the living room.
Boiling Water/Steam Diffusion (Heat-Based)
This method requires only a bowl, large towel, and boiling water. It's cheap and easy. Place a few drops of essential oil(s) in a bowl and fill with boiling water.
Cover patient and bowl with a large towel to create a tiny steam sauna for one. This is a great entry-level method of diffusion!
I first learned about this method in The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.
Candle Diffusers, Electric Pad Diffusers, & Light Bulb Rings (Heat-Based)
These methods all work similarly. The oil-filled receptacle is heated and the essential oils are released into the atmosphere, creating a passive diffusion method that works best for single rooms or small areas.
All of these are economical and low-tech without many moving parts to break. However, the oil particles are not efficiently or widely dispersed through the air. The beneficial properties of the oil may then not be available. Also, some oils may not be suited for heating.
Plant Mister Diffusers (Cool-Based)
This is another low-tech method. Mix several drops of essential oil(s) with water in a fine-mist plant sprayer. Then spray the mist as desired onto anything that won't be damaged by a little water.
Ultrasonic Cool Mist Diffusers (Cool-Based)
These come in a wide range of sizes and prices. Place several drops of essential oil(s) in a water-filled reservoir. This reservoir then vibrates, causing the water and oils to atomize and disperse into the surrounding air.
Some diffuser units turn off when the reservoir level falls below a certain point. Bigger units are more expensive but also are able to diffuse essential oils over a greater square footage.
What are some benefits?
- No heat
- Oils actively dispersed and more readily available
- Extra humidity is helpful in dry climates or when congested
- Units may include timers and nightlights
However, units do contain a motor, which can wear out over time. And, the extra humidity can be a disadvantage in warm, moist environments — or when used near electronic equipment.
Ultrasonic Nebulizing Diffusers (Cool-Based)
These utilize the same technology as asthma breathing treatment machines. They change a liquid into a mist without water.
They also have the widest dispersal range of any method. Larger units treat an entire small house, or about 1200 square feet. Additionally, most units have timers.
Place undiluted essential oils into a small glass reservoir and then attach it to the unit. The oils are then aerosolized into a superfine mist.
What are some benefits?
- Large dispersal range
- No extra humidity
- Reliable units less likely to break down
- Units come with timers
- Concentrated delivery of oils makes them readily available
However, they are much more expensive. Lower-end nebulizers are similarly priced to high-end cool mist models. Nebulizers also tend to use oils more rapidly if not carefully timed, since they are not diluted.
Use Caution In Public Places
Although essential oils are generally safe when used appropriately, they are still powerful substances. Some people may be sensitive or even allergic to certain oils. Other oils may be unsafe for young children or babies.
Please research and learn safe usage practices before beginning your essential oil journey. I recommend The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.
What is your preferred method of essential oil diffusion? Do you have any tips or stories to share?
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