Hi there folks! Hope you are having as much fun with your essential oils as I am. If you are still skeptical about these aromatic extracts or have second thoughts, I promise after this piece, you won’t be able to contain the need to put your oils and diffusers to work.
Today once again, we are going back to the basics! Yippieee! And me, moi-Olivia, am going to be your personal guide to the wonderful, exotic and fragrant world of EOs and diffusers. So, without further meandering, let me tell you what inspired me to work on this article.
When I casually searched the term “essential oils for diffusers”, I was served with tons and tons of information on various types of diffusers, how they work, their pros and cons and more. In fact, I have done my own bit to add to this information tsunami on EO diffusers.
But, there was absolutely nothing on what oils work best for diffusion or even if there are some volatile extracts that are particularly well suited for a specific type of diffusion method. This got me thinking about how vital bits of information that can help you to get more from your essential oils and your diffusers is not available.
Hence, as always, I have taken it upon myself to guide my readers on this important topic. And if you have not yet tried whipping up your personalized essential oil blends, after this, you will. So, hop aboard the EO train and let us start our aromatic journey…
First, who does not know what diffusion is?
A little back history is warranted here but I promise to keep it short. You know the aroma/fragrance part of the oils is attributed to molecules that waft up to your nose and hit your olfactory sensors, so to speak. This, in turn, activates a few neural impulses and that is how the oils create an impact.
Now, another name for EOs is volatile oils because these aromatic molecules are an adventurous lot, hence quick to diffuse into the air. This quality helps when you use them in an inhaler or straight off your handkerchief. Even when used as such, you would still be able to smell the oils and they would still make a difference without any external help.
But if you want the list of beneficiaries to include others, you need to find a way in which these molecules can be scattered across a large area, and that is what diffusion does. One thing I can promise is that whatever your preferences and budget, you certainly won’t have a dearth of options when it comes to buying a diffuser.
What Types Of Diffusers Are Available Out There?
These work by using a stream of pressurized air to diffuse the oils. They are the most expensive of all diffusers not just to buy but also in terms of oil consumption. On the plus side, you get 100% pure mist. Plus, the volatile compounds retain their integrity because they are not exposed to heat or water.
So, a nebulizer works the best when you need more than just the uplifting aroma of your EOs. If you need relief from sinus congestion or want to put the antimicrobial properties of the oils to use, this would be the right diffuser for the job.
Considering the higher oil consumption, I tend to use my nebulizer for the more affordable oils. Also, given the process of diffusion used, nebulizers work the best with lighter oils. Because of the pure mist that you get from the nebulizer, these machines are exceptionally well suited for oils derived from spices, grasses, rinds (through expression) and flowers.
2. Ultrasonic diffusers
Also known as cool air/mist diffusers, these machines use ultrasonic frequencies to disperse the aromatic molecules into a large area. You need to use a mixture of water and EO for this type of diffuser, which means that the actual quantity of oils used is lower than what you would need for a nebulizer.
This makes the machine perfect for highly fragrant absolutes that often tend to be quite expensive. Also, given the process of diffusion, ultrasonic devices are ideal for use with heavy oils derived from woods, roots, resins, spices, etc.
Because these machines diffuse the aromatic molecules over large areas, they work well when you need to get your home or living area to smell really good or when you want the whole family to gain from the therapeutic effects of your blends. Although you do not get the same purity as with the nebulizer, this form of diffusion is works quite well when you need to create a general environment of positivity and balance moods.
3. Evaporation diffusers
The most organic and holistic of all diffusers, everything from reed sticks to ceramic/terracotta charms fall in this category. Because there is no machine or electricity involved in this method of diffusion, it has limited reach as it relies completely on the natural flow of air.
So, if you are in a breezy area or if the reed sticks are placed near the window, you can expect the aromatic molecules to spread further into the room but if placed on the desk, the diffuser will only offer the benefits of your blend to you.
Considering their limited reach in terms of dispersion, evaporation diffusers are perfect for office spaces, because the fragrances will linger close to your work area. So, these diffusers are perfect for blends meant to offer mental health benefits like promoting relaxation, focus, improving memory and others.
These diffusers also work well when you want to use highly fragrant oils on your person or around you, without being pulled up for it. Ideally, with these diffusers, you should use oils that don’t lose too much in terms of therapeutic value once their top notes dissipate.
This is one of the big problems with evaporation diffusers; the top notes of the oils are the first to disappear. So, you have to keep refreshing the blend frequently or you have to make do with something that does not smell as fabulous or the same as it did on the first day.
4. Heat diffusers
You will get a range of eye catching options if you are interested in this mode of diffusion. As the name suggests, these diffusers use heat to atomize the oils. In terms of the oil quantity required, these are the most cost effective. However, their range of dispersion is lower than that of ultrasonic diffusers.
Also, exposure to heat brings about a change in some of the volatile components of the oil. Typically, most citrus oils, particularly those that are expressed, should not be exposed to heat, ditto for absolutes. Most citrus oils are top note oils and their characteristic fragrance will usually be gone within a matter of minutes when exposed to high heat.
What Are The Best Essential Oils For Diffusers
The Top Note Oils
These oils typically have the most distinctive aroma even in their own class and will hit you the strongest as soon as you open the lid of the bottle. Because their characteristic fragrance is held by their top notes, they change drastically once these top notes waft away. They also don’t do well when exposed to heat because this leads to the quick dissipation of the top notes.
These oils are light and usually derived from the leaves of plants, grasses and from fruit rinds. Because these top notes are highly volatile, these oils don’t work well with evaporation and heat diffusers.
However, given their light texture and their strong fragrance, they are perfect of nebulizers. Plus, the fact that they don’t cost much means that their greater consumption, when using a nebulizer, won’t be a problem. With that covered, let me tell you about the most popular oils in this category:
- Leaves and grasses: Peppermint, eucalyptus, clary sage, spearmint, basil, coriander, thyme, sage, petitgrain, citronella, lemon grass, anise, bay laurel
- Rinds: Lime, lemon, wild orange, grapefruit, tangerine, mandarin, bergamot, orange
The Middle Note Oils
In terms of both longevity and viscosity, these oils are in the bang middle of the range. These oils usually come from the flowers of the plants and from spices and offer benefits across the entire spectrum of aromatherapy, meaning they are often used topically as well as for diffusion.
Given their thickness and the lingering quality of their fragrances, these oils work well with almost all types of diffusers. But, I often don’t use these in my nebulizer given the high price tag of some of the oils in this category. Although they do not deteriorate as much when exposed to heat, I still prefer to use them either with an evaporation or an ultrasonic diffuser.
The floral and spicy scents in this range smell amazing but can be too much for some. Because there is some amount of dilution involved in both forms of diffusion, they tend to tone down the vivaciousness of the scents just enough to make them perfect.
Apart from a reed diffuser, I also enjoy using the florals with my ceramic pendants and charms for a single note or a through and through floral perfume effect. That said, take a look at some of the middle note oils:
- The florals: Geranium, geranium rose, palma rosa, linden blossom, chamomile, honeysuckle, tuberose, hyssop, lavender, yarrow
- The spices: Cardamom, bay, carrot seed, clove, nutmeg, black pepper
- Others: Parsley, niaouli, rosewood, cajuput, camphor, coriander, cypress, dill, elemi, eucalyptus lemon, eucalyptus radiata, fir needle, juniper berry, lavandin, manuka, marjoram, may chang, oregano, pine, rosemary, rosewood, spruce, tea tree, thyme
The Base Note Oils
These are the thickest of all EOs and have the longest lasting time. Typically derived from roots, bark, resins and heartwood, exposure to heat and air makes little difference to these oils. The earthy aromas of most oils in this category are known to bring about calmness and balance energies.
Base note oils work well in heat and evaporative diffusers owing to their strong fragrance, which can last for several hours even when exposed to direct airflow like with a reed diffuser. These oils can also be used in an ultrasonic diffuser but keep the viscous liquids away from atomizers or nebulizers, which tend to get clogged. Fan powered diffusers also work for these oils because of their slow rate of evaporation. Some of the more popular base note oils include:
- Resins: Myrrh, frankincense
- Roots: Vetiver, ginger
- Bark/wood/heartwood: Sandalwood, cedarwood, balsam Peru, cinnamon
- Others: Helichrysum, jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli, spikenard, turmeric, vanilla, rose, neroli, ylang ylang
Some Rules To Remember When Making Your Own Diffuser Blends!
The simplest way to diffuse EOs is to use a single extract or use 2-3 oils from the same class. For instance, you can use sweet orange or even lemongrass alone or you can blend them with other oils from the citrus family.
But if you want to create more complex blends, you will end up working with different fragrance types, in which case, it will help to get to know your oils a bit more. In fact, the more you know about blending, the better you will get at synergizing the therapeutic properties of the oils, not to mention your blends will smell so amazing that people will be vying to get the recipes.
Don’t get worried, I promise I will keep this very simple. So, let us start by talking about the types of fragrances. This is easy because the names point to the aromatic traits.
- Derived from flowers hence floral; think jasmine, rose tuberose, geranium and others.
- Derived from woods and pines hence woody; think pine, cedar wood, fir and rosewood.
- Derived from herbs hence herbaceous; think basil, rosemary, coriander.
- Derived from mint hence minty; think spearmint and peppermint.
- Derived from spices hence spicy; think clove, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Derived from citrus fruits hence citrusy; think lemon, orange, lime and also lemon grass.
Now, there are a few others that you also need to know about. I did not list them with the others because their names and origins don’t really match. For example:
- Earthy: These are not derived from earth, mud or clay but they have a grounding quality about them hence they are named as such; think vetiver and oakmoss.
- Oriental: There is a slight connection for this one because these oils/fragrances are derived from spices/botanicals used/found in the East; think ginger and patchouli here.
- Medicinal: These oils have a camphorous fragrance and are typically used for medicinal purposes; think camphor, eucalyptus and wintergreen.
Mixing the fragrances to perfection
Let me get one thing straight here – There is simply no right or wrong way to blend fragrances. Yes, there are a few rules of thumb but use them to guide you along and not to stifle your creativity. That said, here are a few guidelines for all you blend happy folks:
- Florals blend well with citrus, woods or spices.
- Woods go with almost everything and work well even on their own.
- Orientals blend well with citrus and floral, as long as the oriental and spicy oils are used in moderation.
- Mints go well with citrus, herbaceous and earthy.
- Camphorous fragrances blend well with citrus, mint and herbaceous.
As far as blending ratios are concerned, you can work in 3 ways:
- For a balanced blend, middle note oils should form the bulk of the mixture. The recommended ratio would be 20-30% top notes, 50% middle notes and 10-20% base notes.
- For a long lasting blend, the proportion of base note oils should be the highest. An ideal ratio would be- 15-25% top notes, 30-40% middle notes and 45-55% base notes.
- For a hard hitting blend, keep the quantity of top note oils higher than/equal to the two others. A ratio that will get this effect is 30-40% top notes, 30-40% middle notes, 15-25% base notes
If you are new to making EO blends for diffusers, I recommend that you start with small batches, no more than 10-20 drops. Also, when mixing reserve the strongest fragrances for the last and add them one drop at a time, so as not to overpower the other oils in the formulation. Finally, remember to create your blends based on the type of diffuser you are going to use.
For instance, a blend that contains a mix of citrus and floral oils would be best suited for an evaporation or ultrasonic diffuser. On the other hand, if you have created a woody plus spicy blend, this can easily be used with a heating diffuser or even in a candle.
On the other hand, if you need to mix herbaceous or minty oils like peppermint with spices like cinnamon or even a floral fragrance like lavender for its therapeutic benefits, I would suggest you stick to nebulization and keep the quantity of the thick oils in check so as not to damage the machine. To get you started here are a few recipes, you can add and remove oils as needed or as per your tastes.
15 Best Essential Oil Blends For Diffusers
In keeping with my recommendation, I am starting all the blends with 10 drops. This will help you to get the ratio right even if you want to make larger batches. For each blend, you simply need to mix the oils and store in a dark glass bottle away from direct heat and sunlight. Remember that these oils do degrade when exposed to air and moisture. So, store as required and use them as per the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the diffuser.
1. Chase away sullen with citrus!
This blend is great when you are feeling sad and lethargic and need a quick boost of energy and happiness.
- 4 drops sweet orange
- 3 drops each bergamot and lemon
2. Bring home summer
If the cold weather outside is getting you down, try this blend to bring the cheery charm of spring and summer into your home even when it is freezing outside.
- 5 drops neroli
- 3 drops sweet orange
- 2 drops ginger
3. Christmas why art thou so far away?
This blend is wonderful when summer starts to give way to fall and you need a bit of warmth and the anticipation of the festive season.
- 5 drops pine
- 2 drops bergamot
- 3 drops frankincense
4. The germ killer blend
When flu season is upon you, this blend will keep the germs out of your living space and will increase your immunity for when you are out of your comfort zone.
- 3 drops each of tea tree and lemon
- 2 drops each of rosemary and peppermint
5. Off to a great start
This blend is perfect for when the morning is dragging along and just can’t seem to muster up the energy to face the day. It also works exceptionally well when you need an afternoon pick-up.
- 4 drops peppermint
- 3 drops each of lime and orange
6. Clean and green home blend
This summery fresh blend is the perfect “welcome-home” scent that will instantly lift up the mood of everybody who walks in.
- 4 drops each of lavender and grapefruit
- 2 drops spearmint
7. Kick the allergy out blend
- 4 drops each of lemon, grapefruit and peppermint
8. Off to dreamland
When you want to call it a night but your brain continues to tick, this blend will prove to be a soothing lullaby for those frayed nerves.
- 2 drops cedarwood
- 2 drops frankincense
- 3 drops each chamomile and lavender
9. Focus all the way blend
When you need keep your mind on the task at hand, this blend will center all your mental resources.
- 3 drops each of rosemary and peppermint
- 2 drops each of clove and basil
10. Headache relief blend
- 2 drops each of thyme, rosemary and marjoram
- 4 drops lavender
11. Romance is back in the air
When you want to set the mood for some couple’s time, this blend will help to get the fire of passion going.
- 3 drops each neroli and ylang ylang
- 2 drops sandalwood
- 5 drops rose
12. Get those neurons to behave blend
Big test tomorrow and need to remember tons of information or need to be at the top of your game for that presentation? Try this blend that puts your cognitive abilities back in your control.
- 3 drops each of rosemary and peppermint
- 2 drops each of cinnamon and frankincense
13. Stress no more
When the trials of the day have you down, this blend will soothe and calm your senses so you can see and understand things more clearly.
- 3 drops each of lavender and clary sage
- 2 drops each of marjoram and ylang ylang
14. Bring the garden inside your home or heart
This is a personal favorite and I like to not only use it in an ultrasonic diffuser but also enjoy wearing it with my terracotta pendant.
- 2 drops each of rose and neroli
- 3 drops each of chamomile and geranium
15. Bugs stay away blend
If you are heading out in summer, this blend will keep you safe from bug bites. When diffused indoors it will help you to throw open the windows without worrying about uninvited, creepy, crawly intruders.
- 3 drops each lemon grass, eucalyptus, basil
- 1 drop thyme
You can also get my favorite essential oil blends that I personally use in my diffuser right here.
Top Tips For Safely Diffusing Your Essential Oils
- EOs that contain high quantities of phenols and aldehydes can irritate the mucous membranes if diffused in large amounts or continuously over a long period. So, don’t get too adventurous or generous with clove, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper and other spicy EOs.
- Always diffuse EO blends in well ventilated environment. If you cannot do so, diffuse while you are not in the room then let the space air out for about 15 minutes before walking in.
- Be particularly careful with the oils used in the blend plus the diffusing blend strength when using your diffuser around pregnant women, children, sick and old people and pets.
- If diffusing EOs around pets, keep the door open so that the animal can walk out if the smell gets too much for it to bear.
- If you keep cats, birds, fishes or reptiles as pets, do not diffuse EOs with them around.
- If you suffer from asthma or any type of pulmonary or breathing disorder, ease yourself slowly into diffusion.
- And always be careful about sleeping with the diffuser on, regardless of the type of diffuser you are using.
Now that you know all about essential oils, their fragrances, the blending rules and more, go ahead and experiment to your heart’s content. Whip up signature fragrances that will be the talk of your circle and keep common ailments away from your home and family by using the right oils and diffusers. Once you start, I promise, this will turn into your new or only addiction and a good one at that. So, here is wishing you all a life filled with enticing and enthralling aromas!