essential oil burner vs. diffuser

Essential oil burner vs diffuser — Which is Better?

Posted: August 22, 2012 by Cristina Proano-Carrion

As an aromatherapy expert, people ask me which is better — essential oil burner vs. diffuser.  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?

In 1994 when I started my carrier as an aromatherapist, we didn’t have many options, what we had in the market were basically candle burners, nebulizers where very expensive and very loud. Nowadays, you can find aromatherapy diffusers in hardware stores, big retail stores, pharmacies, and even electronic retailers. However be aware that although there are more options for aromatherapy burners, the oils that are sold with them, are not necessarily natural or pure. I tell my clients to buy the diffuser in those retailers and toss away the fake oils, instead, use our Aromandina Essential Oils for real therapeutic effects. For more information about fake oils click here.

Here’s what I already knew:

An aromatherapy diffuser 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 of 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 significant 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 a section for putting the water and essential oil, and a lower part for the tea-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, essential oil burner vs. diffuser – which is better?

Both offer similar therapeutic benefits.  The primary purpose of a burner or diffuser is to dispense a therapeutic aromatherapy treatment to some people at the same time. It is an excellent way to administer the uplifting, relaxing or energizing effects of the essential oils you chose. As one of our readers mentions in her comments: “The main advantage of the diffuser is that you can have it on whilst you are asleep and you can have it around children. Whereas the oil burner is not safe round children. Also if the oil/water evaporates then, it can crack the bowl. And also the candle burns down pretty quickly.”
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 beautiful properties. In the end, whether you use a burner or a diffuser all comes down to your personal preference. You don’t need a particular piece of designer equipment to see the benefits of aromatherapy!

Which one do I personally prefer?

As you can see in the picture above, I have an essential oil burner, an electronic diffuser, and a regular diffuser. I use all of them.  I like to use the candle warmer in smaller areas where the light is dim, and the candle also offers a nice natural candle light. I use the larger electronic diffuser in my living room because it’s covers larger areas, however I do not like it that much, it was expensive ($150), it needs a remote control to turn it on and it’s a little noisy. I would say that my favorite one is the inexpensive diffuser I found at one of the big retailers ($20), it’s quiet, it lasts long, and it diffuses the oils very well.

Safety precautions:

You don’t need to keep your burner or diffuser on all day, in aromatherapy less is better. I like to keep it on for around one hour in my living room or my bedroom. If you’re diffusing oils in public spaces, be considered of others, some people may have odor sensitivities and no matter how natural the essential oils are, they can produce a sensory hyper-reactivity. If you are a massage therapist or aesthetician using essential oils in your room, make sure to work in a well-ventilated environment.

References:

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

Revised March 16, 2019
© 2012, Cristina Proano ZabalaThis 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.
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