Passive & Active Diffusing: Part Two

Last month, I wrote about Passive Diffusion using, for example, Wood or Aromatherapy Jewelry. You can read about this by going to and keyword searching “Passive Diffusing’. This month, I finish out my discussion on diffusing by discussing the ins and outs of Active Diffusion.

Active Diffusion: Most folks know this aroma-tool as a diffuser — the old- school diffuser method is a candle beneath a glass, metal or ceramic vessel that holds water and your essential oils. As the candle warms the water, the essential oils and their aromas are released. While this works in a pinch, do know that heat quickly causes the volatile molecules in an essential oil to evaporate – this means the aroma will not last very long. Also, heat changes the aroma and chemical structure of essential oils.

A popular method of active diffusing is using a nebulizer. A nebulizer uses a particular technology that vibrates water and essential oils at a very high frequency, thus blending water and oil and sending this mix out into the room as a cool mist. There are some very specific safety issues and efficacy issues to consider when using this method of active diffusing.

One, it is easy to overwhelm your sense of smell. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how many drops to add to your particular model. Each model will have a different water capacity and therefore requires more or less drops of essential oil.

Two, when shopping for a nebulizer, choose one with a timer. As we discussed last month, as soon as you breathe in essential oils, the aromatic molecules enter your bloodstream. Diffusing non-stop may overwhelm your olfactory system and those sharing your breathing space. As soon as these aromatic molecules enter your bloodstream, they start to do their ‘work’ (for example, on your mood), and will do so for approximately 20-90 minutes. It is therefore unnecessary and an overuse of aromatic essential oils to diffuse non-stop. Save money, your essential oils and longevity of your nebulizer while using aromatherapy safely! The more timer options the better. Most I have seen have a 1-hour timer. You can also set a reminder on your phone – as little as 5 minutes of diffusing at a time has been shown to be effective. Keep in mind what your intended purpose for diffusing is. For example, during cold and flu season you may want to increase the frequency you diffuse. I routinely run my nebulizer at 1-hour intervals throughout my day, changing up the blend as my day progresses.

Three, be aware of who else shares your breathing space. Babies, children, pets and anyone not easily mobile will be exposed to and affected by the aromas diffused into the air. Pets need an escape route, so make sure they have one. And you will be responsible for monitoring everyone who is in the room and their response to the aroma.

Other active diffusion choices: The Hubmar Aroma-Pearl uses cold-fusion technology to disperse the aroma into the air; the Wall-Ball is a plug-in device that gently warms a ceramic plate and cotton pad to diffuse; the Car-Scenter uses a similar technology but works with the lighter outlet in your car. I carry these three models by Hubmar, a Canadian company, at the market.

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