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What’s the Difference Between an Ultrasonic Diffuser and a Nebulizing Diffuser?

aroma outfitters ultrasonic nebulizing diffuser difference

If you’ve been following us here at Aroma Outfitters for any length of time, you know that our shop is packed chock full of awesome essential oil accessories—not the least of which is our wide range of high quality ultrasonic diffusers.

(In fact, we recently celebrated the release of our best diffuser yet, an absolutely gorgeous, super-durable iron metal 500 ML beast that can diffuse for up to 24 hours. Check it out if you haven’t already.)

We carry ultrasonic diffusers, but you’ve likely also heard of nebulizingdiffusers as well. So what’s the difference?

In today’s post, we’ll dig into the differences between these two different styles of diffusers, take a look at the pros and cons of each, and explain why we think that ultrasonic diffusers like the ones we have in our shop offer the majority of users a slight edge over the alternative.

Let’s get started by explaining how an ultrasonic diffuser works:

ultrasonic diffuser humidity benefits

What is an Ultrasonic Diffuser and How Does One Work?

It’s actually really interesting how ultrasonic diffusers work.

If you’ve ever used one before, you know that you have to fill it with water, then you add your essential oils. The two don’t necessarily mix—in fact, the essential oils will sit on top of the water. The next step is to get those oils out and about into the air, and this is the part that most people mistakenly think of as steam.

There is, in fact, no steam involved with an ultrasonic diffuser (steam would require the water to be heated up, which it isn’t). There’s a small disc or plate beneath the water which causes ultrasonic vibrations. This “agitates” the water, enough so that it, and the essential oils, gets broken down into their base molecules. A fine mist is produced, thus diffusing the oils into the air.

Ultrasonic diffusers have a lot of benefits. They don’t require much power, they’re easy to clean, and they double as a humidifier. That last bit could be seen as a pro or a con, depending on how you feel about humidity—but we find that most of our customers who were unsure end up loving the extra moisture in the air (since it can alleviate dryness of the skin, eyes, and nasal passages).

As a final note, ultrasonic diffusers are also very budget-friendly. The units themselves tend to cost less than nebulizing diffusers on average, but more importantly, ultrasonic diffusers use much less oil than nebulizing diffusers. They also run for longer periods of time, in several cases up to 24 hours before needing to be refilled.

If you’d like to get a closer look at ultrasonic diffusers, make sure to check out the ones we carry in our shop. If you’re new to diffusing and don’t want to spend too much, our 100 ML Arise essential oil diffuser runs about twenty-five bucks and works great in a small room. If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, we can’t say enough good things about our latest metal essential oil diffuser.

What is a Nebulizing Diffuser and How Does One Work?

A nebulizing diffuser ultimately has the same goal as an ultrasonic diffuser—i.e., to distribute vaporized essential oils to the air—but it does so in a very different way.

Nebulizing diffusers don’t use water. Instead, you fill them with essential oil. Above the reservoir is a small tube, and atop that is an air pump. The air pump blows air across the top of the tube. This creates a vacuum which pulls fine particles of the essential oil up and sprays them into the air around the unit.

As you would suspect, nebulizing diffusers don’t have a humidifying effect because they don’t use water. Because of this, they tend to be smaller than ultrasonic diffusers as well. The biggest benefit of a nebulizing diffuser is that they disperse essential oils significantly faster than an ultrasonic diffuser, and at a higher concentration. This means that nebulizers aren’t typically left on anywhere near as long as ultrasonic diffusers.

The biggest complaint almost everyone has with nebulizing diffusers is that they go through a lot more oil quite a bit faster than ultrasonic diffusers. For comparison, imagine that a nebulizer might require 20-30 or more drops of oil for a single session, whereas an ultrasonic diffuser might require only a few drops of oil. The aroma produced by the nebulizer will be stronger since the oils haven’t been diluted with water, but it won’t last anywhere near as long.

This is why we mentioned above that nebulizers aren’t as budget-friendly as ultrasonic diffusers. The units themselves tend to cost more and you’re using oil far more rapidly, plus you don’t get the benefits of humidification.

Finally, nebulizers are a bit louder than ultrasonic diffusers (which are more or less entirely silent). If you like to diffuse before or during sleep, this might present a problem.

So, now that you know the differences and the pros and cons of each of these types of diffuser, which one is better?

nebulizing vs ultrasonic diffusers aroma outfitters

Which is Better – Ultrasonic or Nebulizing?


At the end of the day, it really all comes down to personal preference.

If you’re dead-set against humidity, go with a nebulizing diffuser.

Having said that, if you want to spend less on oils, reap the health benefits of humidified air, and diffuse silently for longer periods of time, you’re hands down going to want to get an ultrasonic diffuser.


As a small but noteworthy bonus, most diffuser recipes you’ll find on our website (and most places online for that matter) are intended to be used with ultrasonic diffusers. Not having to make “conversions” to a nebulizer is a nice little benefit as well.

Personally, we lean towards ultrasonic diffusers—which is exactly why we chose to carry them in our shop. In our opinion, the cost savings and performance make them the superior choice.

Learn More About Using Your Diffuser: Recipes, Info, & More


There’s no “wrong way” to diffuse, so get the type that appeals to you the most. Whichever style of diffuser you choose, we’re happy just as long as you’re enjoying the many benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy.

And boy are there a lot of benefits!

Make sure to check out these other recent posts from the blog to get your aromatherapy journey off to the right start:

Also, if you haven’t already, you’re definitely going to want to grab a completely free copy of our guide to lavender essential oil. It’s great for your diffuser and many, many other applications. Learn why it’s called the “Swiss Army knife” of oils!

Thanks for reading and talk to you next time!

About the Author

Charity

Charity is a mom, wife and avid essential oil user. She teaches classes on essential oil usage and describes herself as a “forever student” of the oils. Charity resides in Colorado and is active in volunteering in her community.  

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