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4 Tricks For Effective Essential Oil Diffusing

Diffusing essential oils has so many great benefits. It can help make your home smell fresh and clean, as well as help lift your mood when you have a bad day.  It even supports you when you feel a cold or flu coming on. 

But maybe you're finding that your diffuser is barely misting. And maybe you can't smell the essential oils very well. Is it the essential oil blend itself, the diffuser, or your ability to smell? 

Here are 4 tricks I want to share with you based on years of experience diffusing essential oils.  

1. Understand the “personality” of your essential oils 

What do I mean by personality? In this case I mean what type of volatility does your essential oil have. Is it a light, ethereal type (evaporates quickly) or is it more of a heavy, seductive type (evaporates more slowly). Without getting into too much chemistry - because essential oils are chemicals - you need to know that it’s the size of the molecules that make up the essential oil that determines how it behaves. 

You may have heard the terms “top”, “mid” and “bottom” note from the fragrance world. These terms were created to help identify how the essential oil behaves based on its evaporation rate, chemical structure and weight. I’ve created a little chart to help you understand where some of the most common essential oils fall.

WHY THIS MATTERS: knowing whether your essential oil is a top, mid or bottom note helps you understand how quickly it will diffuse in the air and eventually disappear. The quicker it evaporates, the less time you will smell it. For example, the citrus essential oils are lighter molecules and evaporate faster. So, although they will fill a room very quickly, you wont smell them for very long. 


2. Know the type of diffuser you have

There are so many different kinds of diffusers on the market. Depending on which one you are using will determine how well your essential oil will perform.

Generally speaking, the most popular diffuser on the market is the ultrasonic diffuser which uses a high frequency vibration mechanism in water to diffuse a cool mist into the air. This diffuser quickly disperses a low volume of essential oil into a space, making it a gentle and mild way to scent a room. The best essential oils for this type of diffuser are citrus (i.e. sweet orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lime) and conifer (i.e. pine, black spruce, fir balsam) essential oils.

The heavier, “bottom note” essential oils like sandalwood, vetiver and patchouli will perform better in an electric heat diffuser. This diffuser gently warms the essential oil without using water. The heat helps break up the heavy weighted, larger molecules to more easily evaporate in the air.  

WHY THIS MATTERS: choosing the right essential oil to go with the diffuser you have will give you the most productive diffusing experience.   

3. Diffuse for short periods of time

Diffusing for only 15 minutes at a time helps prevent overexposure and habituation to the essential oil. If we diffuse for too long, we get something called odor fatigue. This is when we’ve been exposed to the same odor for an extensive period of time and we can’t smell the odor anymore.

Here’s why that happens and why your sense of smell is so amazing. With long exposure, the olfactory receptors that pick up the essential oil aroma get temporary sensory fatigue. This happens on purpose and is meant to keep your nervous system from exhausting itself from continuous odor stimuli. The receptors stop sending signals to the brain and instead focus on new smells that could potentially harm you. 

WHY THIS MATTERS:  shorter diffusion periods let you experience the scent more vividly. And you won’t be wasting precious essential oil on an experience you can’t fully enjoy. 


4. Mix it up a bit

Instead of diffusing the same essential oil(s) all day, every day, why not try to mix it up a little. The same reason you don’t want to diffuse the same oil for an extended period of time, you don’t want to diffuse it every day. You get used to the smell and that makes the purpose of diffusing less effective. 

Consider diffusing for different intentions. In the morning, as you get ready for the day, try diffusing bright, sunny citrus oils or energizing oils like peppermint or eucalyptus. Then when you get ready to sleep, diffuse some calming, relaxing essential oils like lavender, sweet orange and cedarwood.

WHY THIS MATTERS: your sense of smell is wired to protect you from danger. Although diffusing pleasant essential oils isn’t dangerous, your nose and brain are ready to act on dangers (i.e. gas, fire, spoiled milk) at any time. Odor fatigue / odor adaptation are protection mechanisms.  So, you have to work around this protection mechanism to maximize the enjoyment of your essential oils. 


As with all things related to essential oils, the motto “less is more” works well for diffusing. Short diffusion periods with the right essential oil in the right diffuser will give you wonderful feelings of wellbeing, not to mention helping the pocketbook.

If you want to learn how to identify the best types of essential oils to use for which issues, how to diffuse safely, and how to blend for optimal success, check out my on-demand online class How To Diffuse Essential Oils Effectively & Safely.

Note: essential oils are highly concentrated and should always be used with care, and kept out of the reach of children, and never used internally. The information in this post is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you are pregnant or undergoing any medical treatment, please seek more individualized advice from a certified aromatherapist or a qualified health professional before using essential oils.

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