Looking to enliven your home with a burst of fragrant, refreshing essential oils?
These mini diffuser options can do just that, with each offering their own scintillating rationale as to why they should be your pick to freshen up your home.
What to Look for in an Essential Oil Diffuser
Before we get into the models themselves, let’s take a closer look at what we should be looking for in a small oil diffuser in the first place.
There are four basic categories of essential oil diffusers, each with their own pros and cons.
- By Nebulization: These small oil diffuser options allow essential oil to slowly diffuse around the room. That said, these machines can be noisier than some other options, since they make use of pumps or small engines, so if you like having essential oils diffused around your room while you sleep, you might want to opt for one of those other choices.
That said, these units allow for a nice, pure diffusion of particles, emitting only essential oils. These particles are very tiny, which allows them to linger longer in the air around you.
- By Misting: On the one hand, these mini diffuser units can emit more than just essential oil particles, and they are sometimes weaker given the fact that they mix the essential oils and release them with water particles, producing a more diluted spray. On the other hand, they are much quieter in their misting and diffusing than nebulizing units.
Rather than the constant droning of an engine or pump as is the case with the nebulizing options mentioned above, these tend to sound far more like a stream or other softly flowing body of water.
- By Gentle Heat: It is important to note that by “gentle” heat we mean that these diffusers typically do not heat their oils above 40°C. These units are typically far more basic than the other options on this list, giving you a more streamlined and thus less expensive diffuser, making them good budget options.
In addition, the gentle heat with which this method releases essential oils is even quieter than misters and much less noisy than nebulizers.
- By Ventilation: One of the big advantages these models have going for them is the fact that they’re quite easy to use. Simply put a few drops into the container, flick the system on, and you’re good to go. As a result of that simplified design, they are also often on the less expensive side, making them a good budget buy.
What’s more, unlike misters, the oils are released without being mingled in water, allowing for a purer diffusion experience. The tradeoff here is that this design is meant more for personal-size units rather than larger ones, and the diffusers themselves are often made of less expensive, less ornate or sturdy materials than other variants.
With those basic descriptions out of the way, let’s dive a bit deeper into the question of what you should want in a diffuser — and the key word here is “you.” As you can see, there are some basic functional differences in these different types of diffusers, which means they fit some tastes better than others. For example, if diffusion density matters most to you, misting diffusers probably won’t be the best pick for you given that they dilute the oils by mixing water in. Nebulizers are the best choice for those looking for a dense and undiluted burst of essential oils.
Higher density can be especially important if you really care about catching the full bouquet of scents offered by the essential oil’s aromatic nature. However, maybe you care less about density and more about the soothing ambiance of essential oils diffusing and wafting lazily about your room while you read, sleep, or meditate. If that’s the case, the misting or gentle heating options are bound to be better than the nebulizers for all the reasons mentioned above.
Personal preferences aside, however, the question remains — what should you want in a diffuser?
One of the most important factors to look for regardless of your preferences is operational time. You don’t want to have to constantly change the batteries. On the other hand, if you plan on sleeping with the essential oil diffuser on, you probably don’t want it to stay on the whole time. You’ll want to look for diffusers that offer cycling options as well as an automatic shutoff feature.
Diffuser capacity and size also matter, and optimizing both for your usage depends on the size of your room. A personal-sized diffuser in a small, enclosed space could prove refreshing, but expecting it to work for a whole floor in your home or building is like spritzing a bit of perfume in an open stadium on a blustery day. The larger the room, the bigger and more powerful you’ll need your diffuser to be.
On the other hand, using that same big diffuser in the kind of small, enclosed space mentioned above is a good way to get yourself sick, with headaches and nausea being potential side effects of being overwhelmed with the chemical composition and aromatic nature of whatever essential oils you’re diffusing.
If you are using a mister or other essential oil diffuser that makes use of water, you’ll need to account for the water as well as essential oil capacity.
Measure the square footage of the room or space in which you plan to use the diffuser. The biggest diffusers on the market are typically able to work for spaces up to 1,000 ft, so if you have an especially large or open room or space you may need more than one.
In a small space, a diffuser capacity of 150 to 200 ml should be more than enough, while for larger rooms, you’ll probably need at least double that amount.
A few other quick factors to keep in mind:
- Checking the operating time is also essential to figuring out the rate of diffusion. Divide the capacity over the operating time to get the rate of diffusion per hour.
- Consider how long the scent from a diffuser may linger in the air. Some essential oils are more potent and fragrant than others, and some diffusers likewise see their diffused oils dissipate more quickly than others as a result of their diffusion methods.
- You don’t want your unit to break down on you, so check into the quality and durability of the glass, plastic, and other components comprising your diffuser. Ideally, the diffuser should be BPA free. Remember that some essential oils can be corrosive, so you need to make sure that the diffuser you choose is up to dealing with that.
- Essential oils are meant to be soothing, and one of the fastest ways to lose that calming Zen feeling is to move to fits of frustration because of a maddening interface. Make sure the diffuser you are looking to use has a user-friendly interface – bonus points for easy assembly.
- Additional features are always nice, so be on the lookout for things such as ambient lighting courtesy of LED lights, iPhone compatibility and the ability to play your music, timers, and so on. You want your diffuser to look nice and fit with your aesthetic as well, so spare a thought for how the design will fit into your room’s décor.
Top Five Essential Oil Diffusers
1) VicTsing Cool Mist Essential Oil Diffuser
This model is on the sleek, chic side with your choice of three faux-wood grain designs that can go nicely with wood grain décor. It is also on the more affordable side, making it a good choice if you’re on a tighter budget.
This is a misting diffuser, so you have to be fine with that.
This model does come with an impressive 15 lighting options for seven vibrant colors.
In terms of capacity, this model can hold as much as 300 ml of water with a mist output level of 50 to 70 ml per hour, which can cover rooms up to 300 sq ft quite well. It has enough battery power to last for 10 hours and comes with four cycling settings for one hour, three hours, six hours, or continuous usage. In addition, it comes with an auto shutoff function, which can be useful if you want to relax without worrying about turning the unit off when you’re done.
- Different color choices
- Can fill a room with diffused oil quite nicely
- Large water tank for such a compact diffuser
- It dilutes oils as a misting diffuser
Our rating: 4.8 / 5
2) InnoGear Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser
If you don’t care much about having a wood finish, you might want to consider this offering from InnoGear. This small diffuser looks a bit basic, but it features a highly-rated ultrasonic setup, although it “only” has a 100 ml capacity. It can run for between three to four hours at a stretch or six to eight hours on a more intermittent schedule, and features seven lights, each of which can be set to bright or dim settings.
- Compact Size for Space-saving: Diffuser is powered by...
- 2 Misting Modes: You can set the deffusor to intermittent...
- PP Material and Cool Mist: Using PP material, this diffuser...
- Romantic Mood Light: InnoGear essential oil diffuser has 8...
- Waterless Auto-off: You can enjoy a restful sleep and keep...
This small essential oil diffuser also has an automatic shutoff option which kicks in if it runs out of water, and runs reasonably silently.
- Isn’t too loud
- Seven light options with dimming options
- Long run time
- A bit of a basic aesthetic design
- More limited capacity than other small diffuser options
Our rating: 4.7 / 5
3) URPOWER Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser
Far and away one of the best things about this model is that it comes with seven fantastic light-up colors to add a sense of ambience to your diffuser experience. This is also another model that lacks a wood finish design. This may be a small diffuser, but it comes with a high capacity water tank, which is a big plus for anyone looking to treat a reasonably large area (ideally 200 sq ft or less) over a longer period of time (the model comes with settings to run for one hour, three hours, six hours, or continuously.).
- 3 in 1 FUNCTIONS: Aromatherapy Diffuser, Humidifier, Night...
- ADVANCED Ultrasonic Diffusing technology which produces...
- Large 500ml water capacity that can continue use up to 10...
- Can be used as a humidifier. Provides moisture for dry room...
In addition, it can cycle through different lighting colors to give you a bit of a display while it diffuses essential oils throughout the room. However, the warranty doesn’t last as long as those of other small essential oil diffuser options on the market.
- High capacity tank
- Can diffuse oils over a 200 sq ft radius
- Nice light display features
- Short warranty
Our rating: 4.6 / 5
4) Better Homes & Gardens Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser
This mini diffuser releases its essential oils without the benefit of water or misting, making it a good choice if you want to go for a “pure” model. It does this with a fan, with no water or heat involved. You don’t even need to plug this small oil dispenser in, as this model runs on two AAA batteries or can also be powered via USB cord.
- Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant...
This mini diffuser also features three microfiber pads that allow for three distinct fragrance blends, though you can buy different ones as well.
- Doesn’t dilute the oil with water
- Can run on batteries or a cord
- Comes with fragrant microfiber pads
- The fan may bother some who want a more silent small oil dispenser
Our rating: 4.4 / 5
5) AromaAllure Essential Oil Diffuser
This small essential oil diffuser also has an incredibly distinctive Moroccan-inspired exterior, making it arguably the most aesthetically-exciting option on this list. It has a 100 ml capacity and can run for up to four hours.
- USB interface and AAA battery-operated essential oil...
- Mini diffuser with elegant solid wood cap, quiet operation...
- Fan diffuser without water and heat, no messy when having...
- Palm-sized aroma diffuser ideal for gifting and personal...
- Included: 1 x diffuser ; 1 x USB power cord; 1 x Manual ; 2...
What’s more, this small oil dispenser releases humidity into the air with a bit of mist that, combined with the changing colors on that Moroccan-inspired LED display, can make for quite an ambient show.
- Elegant exterior display
- Cool mist-light show
- 16 light color choices
- Short run time
Our rating: 4.3 / 5
Each of these models brings something unique to the table and can be a good fit for someone.
The AromaAllure, for example, is a chic small oil dispenser that can offer big-time value for someone looking for a more aesthetically-alluring model, mist show and all.
The Better Homes model offers a small oil diffuser that can operate without diluting the essential oils, making it a potential favorite among purists.
The URPOWER lives up to its name by standing as a small oil diffuser with big-time tank capacity.
The InnoGear is likewise a small diffuser that offers a longer running time, which is always a plus.
The VicTsing can run even longer, though, and has the elegant wood grain design and perfect combination of compactness and extra features to make it the all-around most “essential” small essential oil diffuser on this list.