Hunting for a Plastic-Free, Waterless Essential Oil Diffuser
Disclaimer: I received this diffuser for free to try from Organic Aromas. I requested to try this item because this diffuser is the absolute best nebulizing diffuser I’ve found. The opinions expressed here are my own. This article also includes affiliate links.
The first thing you think of when starting essential oils is “What oils should I use and why?” You also quickly realize (hopefully) that there are a lot of questions you should be asking about each oil’s quality.
It’s only later that you realize you also have control over the ways you use essential oils and the quality of the accessories you use. Viewed the wrong way, this can feel overwhelming, “Wait, I have to research and care about my essential oil accessories too?” But actually I choose to see it as empowering: I can keep learning and finding ways to get more from the oils I choose to buy and acquire simple ways to create a healthier, chemical-free home. I hope as you spend time here on SHE Changes Everything that you’ll start to feel that way too.
I’ve been using essential oils for some time – especially in my yoga practice – but it’s only recently that the light bulb went on that the type of diffuser I was using could change the quality and effectiveness of my oils by how I was using them.
There are three main ways to use essential oils:
- Aromatic (breathing them into your body)
- Topical (putting them on your body)
- Internal (placing them in water or capsules and consuming them).
One way to use essential oils aromatically is to diffuse them. Diffusion just means “the spreading of something more widely.” The way you do that is where the variety comes in.
One of the easiest ways to use oils aromatically (and free!) is to take a deep inhale right from the bottle. You can also rub a few drops in your hands, cup your hands under your nose and mouth, and breath in deeply.
But since most of us don’t have the time to walk about holding our hands under our noses, the next options are to wear essential oil aromatherapy jewelry (jewelry designed to hold a few drops of oil so the scent wafts up to you while wearing them) or use a diffuser, a machine designed to disperse essential oil molecules widely into the air.
It’s the most popular method of using essential oils. It adds natural fragrance to any space without any chemicals or artificial fragrances.
RELATED READING: If candles have been your go-to and you love them, definitely check out our guide to safer candles.
3 things specifically improve the quality of the oils you diffuse:
1) Whether your diffuser heats the oils.
There are several methods of diffusion. Any method that heats the oil during the diffusion process can damage or change the chemical makeup of the essential oils. I strongly discourage using any type of diffuser that heats the oils.
2) Having plastic in a diffuser.
I think we all know deep down that plastic anything isn't the best for the planet or our health, and that stays true with essential oils. Plastic can corrode while using certain oils and you’ll have to keep reinvesting in machines over time. Supposedly citrus oils are of the most concern for corrosion. But I’ve found this depends on the type of plastic in your diffuser and its construction. I’ve been using the plastic Petal diffuser from DoTerra and this inexpensive addition from Amazon with no problems for some time now. Another important note: Plastic can chemically react with oils at times and lower or change their beneficial properties. You’ve invested too much in them. Always, always store your essential oils in glass.
3) The quality of water used in any diffuser that uses water.
I now strongly believe that caring about the quality of water in everything – the water you drink (and if you’re drinking enough), the water you shower in, the water you use in products, etc. is a massive step to creating a healthier lifestyle. The theory is that if you are using unfiltered water, the diffusion can disperse the particles in the water into the air and potentially into your lungs. I have diffusers that use water in my home now.
I personally am on a mission to continue to try to get as much plastic out of my life and home as possible! Yet, the diffusers I currently have are mostly plastic. Let me be clear, I’m not saying plastic diffusers are bad or that you have to stand up and throw yours out now. However, it is just one more little thing you can change as you are able to create a healthier home. Progress, not perfection is our motto around here!
To address the quality of water in my diffusers, you have two options:
Start using a quality, filtered water that won’t disperse contaminants into the air.
Switch to a type of diffuser that doesn’t use water.
That’s what I wanted to research. Could I find a water-free, plastic free diffuser? As I started looking, I quickly realized the search was a little harder than I thought it would be.
There are four types of essential oil diffusers you can choose:
Utrasonic humidifying diffusers (what I have)
Nebulizing and heat diffusers are the only two that don’t involve water, but as I mentioned above, heat can damage the constituents of essential oils and lower their effectiveness, so I do not recommend it as a diffusing method – ever. That means the only water-free option I could try was a nebulizing diffuser.
A nebulizer uses a stream of air blowing across a small tube to form a vacuum. This pulls any liquid at the bottom of the tube to the top of the tube – in this case an essential oil. As air flows over the oil’s surface of at the top of the tube, it blows the oil away in a fine spray or mist.
BENEFITS OF A NEBULIZER
With a constant air flow, this will quickly diffuse a large amount of oil into the air.
In my research I also discovered that this type of diffusion puts the whole oil into the air in the form of tiny droplets, so it can be the best type of diffusion for the therapeutic use of essential oils.
Nebulizers do not require heat.
Nebulizers to not require water.
DRAWBACKS OF A NEBULIZER
Nebulizers design quickly saturates the air with essential oils, but they can at a higher sound level. But I’ve found that they put so much oil in the air that they usually run on a longer on/off cycle, so you don’t hear the motor as often or a machine running continuously. This does help conserve oils overall, and it lets your olfactory system process the oils and recover before new oils are dispersed in the air. And the volume of each machine varies greatly per brand, so look for feedback on that in the review.
Nebulizers tend to use oil at a higher rate than any other type of diffuser. But if you think about it, that makes sense since it is putting more whole droplets of diffused oil into the air than other diffusers.
You can to clean it more frequently or it will clog. If you know you will never have the time to care for your diffuser, this isn’t the best option.
FINDING A WATERLESS, PLASTIC-FREE DIFFUSER
When doing my research, most of the units I was finding had plastic components.
I didn’t find anything that was plastic-free and waterless until I found the nebulizing diffuser from Organic Aromas. I found them right as I was banging my head against a wall because I'd clicked too many links and looked at too many products! I reached out to them to try it and report my findings to you and they sent me a unit to try. This is what I’ve found so far...
It came beautifully packed and was so easy to set up! I was a little concerned about setting up the unit because, honestly, it "sounds" so high tech. But it is just four simple parts: the wooden base, the electric cord you attach, the glass unit you gently press into the base, and the small glass top that sits on the glass unit. Set-up took maybe one to two minutes and I was diffusing!
Sidenote: The one thing that the instructions emphasized that I'll pass along to you was that you should not twist the glass unit when pressing it into the wooden base. I may or may not have instinctively twisted (inset the emoji with the monkey covering its eyes! Oh boy!)
2. This machine is so quiet! That's one of the things I noticed right away in the reviews. You can barely hear it. Plus, I like that you can use a dial to change "volume" of oil switch to precisely control how much oil you diffuse.
3. The unit has a Usage Cycles of 2 minutes On, and 1 minute Off. The unit also has an auto shut-off after 120 minutes.
3. The diffuser is equipped with a "touch sensor" light switch enabling the user to turn the LED light on or off any time with a swipe of a finger. I don't always like having the light on, so this is a great feature. I wouldn't like to unit nearly as much without it.
3. I absolutely love that this unit does not contain plastic, will not off-gas, and is completely non-toxic. But more importantly it works! I could smell the essential oils in my house minutes after plugging it in.
4. It has a highly versatile design. There are numerous varieties, shapes, colors and sizes of essential oil diffusers to choose from. I chose the "Raindrop" design with a large, rounded plantation hardwood base and a conical glass reservoir with candle-wick top.
The unit measures approximately 25cm (10 inches) tall and 15 cm (6 inches) wide. It works on any electrical outlet (110 or 220v) and comes with the electrical plug adapter for your market (USA, UK, EU, Australia, etc).
WHAT? FREE OIL!
Bonus: When you order from Organic Aromas, the company sends a 5ml sample of its "Signature Blend.” I actually don’t usually use the essential oils that come with diffusers unless I specifically know the quality of the oil. The quality of the essential oils you use if just like the quality of the food you eat: IMPORTANT!
But, this company actually sells organic and wild-crafted oils. That’s huge to me because it means they care about the quality of the products they are selling at a higher standard than most companies.
I’m actually mentioning this oil because I LOVE it. I’ve never tried this blend before, but I’ll be reordering it because I haven’t stopped diffusing it since I got it! SO GOOD!
So far I absolutely love this machine. It is perfect for the large, downstairs area of my house. I did find it really does diffuse oils more quickly throughout the space than my other diffusers.
Also, it is beautiful. The wood base adds to the natural, organic feel I love in my home more than any plastic unit can. And it is so easy to set up and use.
The price point is higher than the units you will find online ($95), but honestly it isn't that much more than the higher level designs. But if you have the budget to make the investment, it is absolutely worth it to me.
If I'm being honest, the only thing I'm worried about is the more regular cleaning process this oil will require over the ultrasonic machines I have now. For this unit, the company recommends diffusing a bit of rubbing alcohol every 3rd day and when finished with the diffuser for the day, emptying the glass reservoir, and rinsing it with rubbing alcohol (90% works best supposedly!).
[Update: I've cleaned this multiple times and it is fast and easy. I soak the reservoir in a bowl while I'm dong dishes, rinse, and I'm done. I really was worried it would feel like "one more thing to do" but it doesn't! Also, regularly cleaning out diffusers or any oil dispenser is important and this model encourages me to do it, which also contributes to the health of my home!]
After one month, you are supposed to soak the diffuser glass reservoir in hot water (and a bit of mild dish washing liquid) for a minimum of 30 minutes. Without this, the essential oils could diffuse less effectively over time and the machine could still clog.
I'm going to keep using this and I'll update you on whether the cleaning process gets to me or starts to feel too hard : )
[Update: there's a lot of grace here, so don't let the words, "the machine could clog" freak you out. I had a crazy two months getting ready for SHE Day and it still worked like a charm and kept those calming oils swirling all around me in the crazy!]]
That's is for this blog : ) I love talking about all things oils, so let me know what diffusers you are using and what you've found on your journey to create a more sustainable, healthy, ethical lifestyle!
You've got this!
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Heather Young, the co-founder of SHE Changes Everything, is a 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher specializing in yoga therapy, amromatherapy, and vinyasa yoga. Her mission is to help women discover sustainable movement, exercise that builds bodies up instead of tearing them down through injuires or overuse. She's on a decade-long journey to create a holistic, non-toxic lifestyle and heal from Lyme and chronic illness.
Heather Young, RYT 500, SHE Changes Everything co-founder.