Would you like to know the difference between an air purifier and an essential oil diffuser? We explain exactly what these devices do and how they differ.
If something is wrong with the air in your home, it’s usually easy to tell. Perhaps you have noticed a musky odor, a smoky odor, or something simply smells. Whatever the cause, when you envision a homely atmosphere, you are far more likely to think of clean air and fresh smells than of damp smells and layers of dust.
It’s no surprise, then, that essential oil air purifiers and diffusers are a staple food. The promise of fresh smelling rooms and clean air in the lungs is definitely attractive.
For those new to the difference between an air purifier and an essential oil diffuser, the latter are devices filled with essential oils like lavender, tea tree, or eucalyptus. Essentially, oil diffusers emit a fragrant mist into your room that helps mask lingering odors.
While air purifiers trap allergens in the air, oil diffusers are used to create an aroma. But more on that later, as we’ll go into exactly how you can tell the two apart and why they don’t actually have much in common.
Air Purifiers vs Essential Oil Diffusers: What Do They Do?
If you compare air purifiers to essential oil diffusers, you will quickly find that they perform very different functions. Many allergy sufferers use air purifiers because they trap allergens like dust, pollen, and pet dander. By catching allergens before they reach you, air purifiers can reduce the severity of allergy symptoms, explains the US Environmental Protection Agency.
On the other hand, essential oil diffusers have nothing to do with improving air quality, but rather with creating a pleasant aroma. The devices spray a mist of water and essential oils.
You don’t have to look far to see others hail the benefits of aromatherapy. People tend to describe essential oils as “relaxing,” and that’s likely because smells send a powerful signal to our brains, evoking positive memories, and elevating mood, according to The Well Living Lab’s studies of the effects of indoor spaces on human health and wellbeing.
There are also different types of diffusers. First, there is an ultrasonic diffuser which, thanks to the vibrations caused by electronic frequencies, releases microparticles as a mist. These work well in small or medium-sized rooms and can be mounted on air ducts to cover more floor, adds The Well Living Lab.
Next up is an atomizer diffuser that works well for an intense aroma but is a bit fragile and requires a lot of maintenance due to its glass design. When placed on a tabletop, they emit a fine mist in which particles evaporate in gaseous form. According to Well Living Lab, it is also sufficient to smell a small to medium-sized room. Other diffusers use heat, rather than vibration, to evaporate the oils, and this is the case with steam diffusers, candle diffusers, and hot plate diffusers.
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Air Purifiers Versus Essential Oil Diffusers: How They Affect Air Quality
Air purifiers are of course all about air quality, and those with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter can trap up to 99.97% of the fine particles that are at least 0.3 microns. These include dust, mold, pollen and bacteria, explains the EPA. Air purifiers are in their element when combined with other first-line pollution abatement methods such as sound ventilation and source control.
With essential oil diffusers, something completely different is in the air. A study of the effects of evaporation of essential oils on indoor air quality published in the journal Atmospheric Environment found that indoor volatile organic compounds (VOCs) increased after lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree evaporated.
However, aromatherapy has some positive aspects, according to Brent Bauer, MD, a consultant in the internal medicine department. Bauer points to studies that show that aromatherapy can relieve anxiety and depression, produce better quality sleep and give the chronically ill a better quality of life. This is because when the essential oils are released and recognized by receptors in the nose, signals shoot around a person’s nervous and limbic systems, triggering a response in the area of the brain that deals with emotions.
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Air Purifiers vs. Essential Oil Diffusers: Can You Combine Both?
While air purifiers and diffusers for essential oils are far apart, there are devices these days that combine the two. So while the air purifier works hard to remove pollutants and make it easier for you to breathe, all you need to do is add a few drops of essential oils to dust your home with a pleasant aroma.
Of course, you can do that yourself by buying one at a time. However, if you are concerned about the VOCs released by essential oils, don’t expect the air purifier to compensate for them, even if it has a HEPA filter. According to the EPA, an activated carbon filter or a thick absorbent filter explicitly designed to trap and remove gases is more effective at eradicating VOCs.
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