Aromatherapy Burners vs. Diffusers — Which is Better?

Posted: August 22, 2012 by Cristina Proano-Carrion

As an aromatherapy expert, people are constantly asking me which is better — burners or diffusers.  Personally, I’ve always worked with burners and had great results. However, all of these questions made me wonder if I was missing out on something.  Is it possible that I could have made my aromatherapy experiences even better over the years by using a diffuser instead of a burner? That’s when I decided it was time to set out on a quest for the truth!

Here’s what I already knew:

An aromatherapy diffuser (also called a “nebulizer”) spritzes a mist of essential oils around the room.  A burner, on the other hand, heats up the essential oils so that they evaporate and fill the room. Look around the web, and you’ll see lots websites that claim diffusers are better because they break down the molecules in essential oils and make them smaller. However, this isn’t true — and this was only the first important piece of information I learned from my research! What really happens is that the diffuser takes a liquid that’s chock full of essential oils and turns it into tiny droplets so that it has an easier time floating through the air in your room.  But just because the droplets are physically smaller doesn’t mean that the molecules inside of them are smaller.  The truth is, their molecular structure doesn’t change one bit! So, what about the burners? Aromatherapy burners are two –tier objects, with a top bowl –like section for putting the water and essential oil, and a lower section for the teal-light candle which heats the water above.  As the candle heats the water, the essential oils and water evaporate. Essential oils don’t burn.
“Inhalation does not have to be complicated. As a matter of fact, the easier one keeps the procedure the more likely it will have benefits.Kurt Schnaubelt – The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils

So, which is better — a burner or a diffuser?

Both offer similar therapeutic benefits.  The main purpose of a burner or diffuser is to dispense a therapeutic aromatherapy treatment to a number of people at the same time. It is an excellent way to administer the uplifting, relaxing or energizing effects of the essential oils you chose. Did you know that diffusing essential oils in rooms and houses can lower the count of airborne germs?  This is great to reduce the risk of infections especially in public spaces! Both the burner and the diffuser provide a peaceful and uplifting atmosphere in the room where you have them. Bottom line, what is more important is the quality of the essential oils or essential oil blends that you use, more than the method of diffusing their wonderful properties. In the end, whether you use a burner or a diffuser all comes down to your personal preference. Don’t let sales copy fool you!  You don’t need a certain piece of designer equipment to see the benefits of aromatherapy!


Are aromatherapy nebulizers more therapeutic because they break down the molecular structure of the oil better than other diffusers? NAHA National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy – Myths & Misconceptions in Aromatherapy Kurt Schnaubelt, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy © 2012, Cristina Proano-Carrion, Aromandina LLC
This information is based on traditional use of aromatherapy and it does not intend to diagnose or treat any condition. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical counseling with a health care professional. No part of this article may be reproduced in whole or in part without the explicit written permission of Aromandina.