Can You Put Essential Oils in a Humidifier?

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If you suffer from dry air and want the soothing benefits of essential oils, can you put essential oil in a humidifier?

The short answer is yes.  But only if the humidifier is specifically designed for that purpose.

This short article explains the ins and outs of using a humidifier to distribute essential oils in your home – including what to look for when shopping for a humidifier-diffuser combination unit and what to avoid when trying to add essential oils to an existing humidifier.

Why Use Essential Oils In a Humidifer?

essential oils in humidifier

The medical benefits of properly humidified indoor air aren’t contested.  If you suffer from dry skin, allergies, or upper respiratory issues, dry indoor air can be a real problem. 

Humidifying your air is the right way to resolve this.

Likewise, essential oils have grown in popularity because their potential medical benefits have become more well known.

Many people claim that essential oils can relieve breathing and sinus problems, and some use them to fight off basic illnesses such as cold and flu.

While the medical effectiveness of essential oils is still hotly debated, the soothing properties of certain aromas are not.  

So, at the very least, adding essential oils to your humidifier will provide soothing scents and ease dry air symptoms – and you won’t need to buy two devices to do this.

How Do Diffusers Work?

Diffusers combine the oil with water into an integrated, finely misted spray. Then, the mist is diffused into the air. 

This can be accomplished by atomizing the mist using a pressure nozzle or diffusing it via evaporation.

How Do Humidifiers Work?

essential oils in humidifier

A humidifier restores and maintains the humidity in a home’s air. Too little moisture can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, etc.

Dry air can also cause structural issues in your home. For example, it can crack the plaster and drywall in your walls. Dry air is not something we want to live in our homes. If you have this problem, then it’s a good idea to use a humidifier.

But don’t expect a humidifier to be able to do everything you want.

Why Most Humidifiers Are Not Up To The Job

Here are some reasons why most humidifiers shouldn’t be used to diffuse essential oil into the air.

Why Most Humidifiers Are Not Up To The Job

A warm mist humidifier heats and evaporates water, then discharges it into the air in a misty form. When essential oils are exposed to high temperatures, they lose effectiveness.

The oils won’t be properly diluted and won’t help you as they should. This means that the health benefits you seek using essential oils will do little to no good.

The exception to this rule is if you have a cold mist humidifier. Cold mist humidifiers use pressure alone to atomize cold water.  

That said, before you drop the oil into your cool mist humidifier’s water reservoir, make sure it is made of the right materials and is up to the task. 

Plastic Parts

essential oils in humidifier

Most humidifiers are made with plastic water reservoirs and parts. 

Unfortunately, many essential oil vapors will eventually degrade plastic components and consequently cause difficulties with the humidifier.

Oil can also cause the water tanks to crack and break.

If the water tank and humidifying parts begin to leak, they may not be salvageable and/or protected by your warranty.

Oils Clog The System

Most humidifiers are designed to process clean water only.

Oils can cause clogs and degrade the function of the pressure nozzles and evaporation plates used in cool mist humidifiers. 

Water and Oil Don’t Diffuse The Same.

In general, humidifiers cannot break oils down into the small, fine mist required to do their job.

Benefits Of Using a Separate Diffuser

Diffusers are specifically designed to disperse essential oils, so they’re better at doing so than atomizers.

The oil mist particles can be made so fine that they mix with the air and then be discharged into the home, making them harmless.

It’s important because people can now inhale oils in the finer mist required to be absorbed into their bodies.

Benefits of Essential Oils

essential oils in humidifier

There are many different types of essential oils out there. They come from various plants and trees. They all have unique properties and effects on the body.

Some oils are known to work well against viruses and bacteria. Others help us relax or calm down.

Others help us sleep better. Some even help us reduce stress. We’ve put together a list of the best essential oils for each purpose below.

Relaxing Oil: Lavender

  • Lavender has been used to help people relax. 
  • It helps to reduce anxiety and stress.
  • You can find lavender essential oil in most grocery stores. 
  • It’s also available online.

Vaporizing Oil: Lemon

  • Lemon essential oil is great for vaporizing. 
  • It helps to clear up congestion and boost energy.
  • You can buy lemon essential oil online.

Sleep Aid Oil: Chamomile

  • Chamomile essential oil is great for helping you get a restful night’s sleep.
  • It helps to promote relaxation and ease tension.
  • You can buy chamomile essential oil online.
  • Anti-viral & Anti-bacterial Oil: Eucalyptus
  • Eucalyptus essential oil is great for fighting off viruses and other illnesses.
  • It’s antibacterial and antiseptic.
  • You can buy eucalyptus essential oils online.

Stress Reliever Oil: Peppermint

  • Peppermint essential oil is great for relieving stress.
  • It helps to relieve muscle spasms and headaches.
  • You can buy peppermint essential oil online.

Soothing Sleep Oil: Rosemary

  • Rosemary essential oil is great for soothing sore muscles after exercise.
  • It helps to improve circulation and stimulate the immune system.
  • You can buy rosemary essential oil online.

Extra Mess (& Cleaning)

essential oils in humidifier

If you’re interested in using a humidifier for essential oils because you don’t want to purchase a diffusing system, you might think you’re saving time and money.


When you put essential oils on a humidifier, you create an unusual combination of sticky and heavy oils. When this is released from a humidifier, the mist will land on furniture, clothing, and your body.

It’s extremely unhygienic and will leave you feeling annoyed.

This oil mixture is also difficult to clean, so you’ll be fighting it for months.

Research tells us that humidifiers are not designed to disperse essential oils.

Some limited examples, such as a cool-mist humidifier designed to spread oils, are not common.

If you’re looking for a good investment, invest in a separate diffuser.

Final Thoughts

Research shows that most humidifiers are not designed to disperse essential oils. Do not try to retrofit an existing unit or just drop oils into the reservoir; you will likely damage the humidifier.

Only a few cool-mist humidifiers are designed to spread essential oils. These are not common.  So if you want a combination unit, ensure the product fits your purpose.

Our recommendation: if you invest in a diffuser, it’s best to buy one dedicated to essential oils.


Q: Can I use my humidifier to diffuse essential oils?

A: In general, no.  Most humidifiers are not designed to diffuse or atomize oils – they are only designed to distribute water vapor.

Q: How long does the oil last when diffused through a humidifier?

A: As long as the humidifier is working properly.

Q: What happens if I put essential oils in a humidifier?

A: If you’re putting essential oils in a humidifier not equipped to handle oils, you’ll create a mess at the very minimum.  In addition, nozzles and evaporator plates will quickly become clogged with a sticky residue in cool mist humidifiers and lose their effectiveness.  In warm mist humidifiers, adding essential oils can also create a fire hazard.

Q: Is there a way to ensure my humidifier doesn’t get clogged with oils?

A: The only way to ensure this is to purchase a humidifier specifically designed to diffuse essential oils.

Q: Do essential oils damage a humidifier?

A: Yes. In cool mist humidifiers, nozzles and evaporator plates will quickly become clogged with a sticky residue which will eventually render them useless.  In warm mist humidifiers, adding essential oils can create a fire hazard.

Q: How do I know whether or not a humidifier is safe to use with essential oils?

A: You must carefully check the product specifications. If the humidifier does not explicitly state that it is designed to diffuse essential oils, don’t try to use it for that purpose.

Q: Are there any benefits to using a humidifier with a built-in essential oil diffuser?

A: If you believe in the medical benefits of essential oils or simply want to improve the scent in your room, then yes – purchase a unit designed to distribute both water vapor and oils.

Q: What Is an oil diffuser?

A: An oil diffuser is a device that atomizes and releases essential oils into the air.  Most essential oil diffusers use heat to evaporate the oils. Some use cold mist nozzles.

Q: What types of oils can be diffused?

A: Any kind of essential oil can be diffused.

Q: How much time does it take for oil to dissipate after being diffused?

A. Dissipation of a diffused essential oil mist generally takes a few minutes to half an hour to fill a room.

Q: Does diffusion affect the scent of the oil?

A: Diffusion affects the strength of the aroma, but not the basic smell.

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