Maybe you’re asking yourself, ‘How hard can it be to diffuse essential oils? Don’t you just, you know, diffuse them?’
The answers to the above questions are, you guessed it – Yes, and no! Yes it’s ‘simple’; and no, you don’t just ‘diffuse’ them! There are some very specific safety issues and efficacy issues to consider when diffusing. In terms of efficacy, let’s start with passive diffusion.
Passive Diffusion: This refers to the application of a drop or two of essential oil(s) to an absorptive aroma-tool that over time gently releases your aromatherapy. The simplest passive diffusion aroma-tools are, for example, a tissue or a cotton ball. In terms of efficacy, research has shown that simply ‘sniffing’ your chosen essential oil or blend allows the aromatic molecules to enter your blood stream immediately via your lungs and travel around your body via your circulatory system. This ‘sniff’ method also allows the aromatic molecules to go straight to work via the olfactory system – where the aromatic molecules can have a very immediate effect on your mood and emotions via the limbic system.
In terms of duration, the aroma will last depending on the essential oil or oils used and the number of drops applied. I recommend ‘sniffing’ your aroma-tool before adding a fresh drop. The essential oil(s) or blend will change its aromatic composition over time as the top note essential oils diffuse off or evaporate first, with the base notes hanging on aromatically, so to speak. Most citruses like Lemon, Lime and Sweet Orange are top notes and will be the first to evaporate. Whereas the aroma of Cedarwood Atlas, Patchouli and Vetiver, for example, will hang on much longer.
In terms of safety, passive diffusion is relatively safe as long as you adhere to using only 1 – 2 drops (using more drops may overwhelm your sensitive olfactory and nervous systems). Some essential oils are contraindicated based on medical condition and age, for example. Please refer to a reputable reference (i.e. not something you read on the internet by a non-professional) or consult an accredited aromatherapist. And if you are trying to become pregnant, are pregnant and/or lactating, consult your healthcare provider before starting to use essential oils.
Passive Diffusion Choices: