How To Correctly Add Essential Oils To a Humidifier

Ile Kauppila

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Ile Kauppila

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Josh Mitchell

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I love both essential oils and humidifiers. Together, they maintain my home’s high air quality while also adding a pleasant scent throughout the house.

But should you add essential oils to a humidifier? No, you really shouldn’t! I’ve seen many people break their regular, expensive humidifiers with essential oil.

Here’s a secret, though. There are special humidifiers that can work with essential oils.

Read on and I’ll tell you when and how you can add essential oils to humidifiers.

Key Takeaways

  • No, you cannot put essential oil in a typical humidifier.
  • Only special humidifiers come with essential oil reservoirs or oil-diffusing pads.
  • Standalone oil diffusers are the preferred choice for essential oils. Humidifiers and diffusers can be used together in the same room.

Can You Put Essential Oils In A Humidifier?

You should not put essential oils in a traditional humidifier.

The units are designed to add moisture into the air by dispersing water — and nothing else.

Essential oil contains highly concentrated plant-derived compounds and chemicals.

Can you put essential oils in humidifier

I enjoy these potent plant extracts cocktails for their incredible aromas and potential health benefits just as much as you do, but their high concentration can eat away at plastic.

Pop quiz — what is your humidifier’s water tank made out of?

That’s right, probably plastic. Using essential oils with a humidifier can destroy the tank and ruin your humidifier.

Important Note:

The humidifier will not break immediately, but over time, the oils will turn the water tank brittle and fragile.

Eventually, the tank will crack and spill the water out. I’ve seen it happen so many times that I can guarantee it.

So, the short answer is no. You should not try adding essential oils into a regular humidifier.

But…


Are Any Humidifiers Essential Oil-Friendly?

I have good news for you essential oil lovers. Some specially designed humidifiers can withstand essential oils and freshen up your home.

These models often have a specific oil reservoir or oil-diffusing pad, or their water tank is made of corrosion-resistant materials.

The types of humidifiers that can work with essential oils include:

Ultrasonic Humidifiers With Diffuser
How do ultrasonic humidifiers work

Ultrasonic humidifiers have a vibrating membrane that creates fine water mist that gets dispersed into the air.

As long as all the parts that come in contact with the essential oil are made of appropriate materials, a cool mist ultrasonic humidifier can disperse essential oils.

Specialized Steam Humidifiers

Some steam humidifiers, also called warm mist humidifiers, have a special cup or compartment to hold essential oil and safely impart it into the warm steam.

Corrosion Resistant Impeller Humidifiers

Impeller humidifiers break water into droplets with spinning discs.

Like ultrasonic humidifiers, an impeller cool mist humidifier can work with essential oils if all parts are made of corrosion-resistant materials.

You might also wonder if there is any kind of humidifier you should not use with essential oils.

Yes. Never add essential oils to an evaporative humidifier.

Not only are evaporative humidifiers practically always made of plastic, but the oils can also clog and ruin the all-important wicking filter.

TL;DR: Do not use essential oils with any humidifier UNLESS it is specified by the manufacturer.


How To Safely Use Essential Oils In An Ultrasonic Humidifier

You should take the proper precautions before adding essential oils to your humidifier, even if you’re certain the device can work with them.

This way you ensure the safety of your family, pets, and humidifier and can calmly enjoy the soothing scent.

Here are my 5 top tips on how to safely use essential oils in your humidifier:

  1. 1
    Check the manual.
    Read the manufacturer’s instructions before you put essential oils into your humidifier to make absolutely sure your unit can work with them.
  2. 2
    Use the essential oil tray.
    If your humidifier has a specific compartment for essential oils, pour the oil only in there. Do not add it directly into the water tank — I promise that will eventually break the unit.
  3. 3
    Don’t use too much essential oil.
    I recommend adding a few drops of oil (3-5) into your humidifier at a time. Using too much oil could cause spills, clog your humidifier, or make the scent too strong.
  4. 4
    Put the humidifier in a safe place.
    Essential oils could cause irritation or other symptoms if they contact the skin or are swallowed. Place your humidifier on a stable, hard surface where small children or pets can’t get to it.
  5. 5
    Buy humidifier-formulated oils.
    Some essential oil manufacturers offer oils that are formulated to work better with humidifiers. I know they cost a bit more, but not having to replace your humidifier will save you money in the long run.

TL;DR: If the humidifiers is designed for use with essential oils, use only the compatible oils and try out only a few drops to begin with.


Oil Diffusers Vs. Humidifiers: Which Is Best For Essential Oils?

If you want to add a refreshing aroma to your home, I recommend using an essential oil diffuser rather than a humidifier.

Oil diffusers are built specifically to work with essential oils.

You can use them without worrying about the oil breaking the machine.

A lot of humidifiers and essential oil diffusers look similar and can function almost identically.

You can avoid confusion by paying attention to these basic differences in how they work.

Oil diffusers are built to have the following features:

  • They add fragrance to the air, not moisture.
  • They do not increase humidity.
  • They have very small water tanks or use no water at all.

Meanwhile, humidifiers have these features:

  • They are made to add moisture to the air and improve indoor air quality.
  • They can provide relief for dry skin, cold and flu symptoms, asthma, and other respiratory issues.
  • They hold much more water than diffusers.

If you’re looking to disperse only essential oils, choose an essential oil diffuser. It makes diffusing essential oils much easier and safer.

For those who want to humidify the air as well, though, I can recommend an essential oil-ready humidifier.

TL;DR: Diffusers are go to devices for essential oils, but you can find devices that have both functions.


Why You Shouldn’t Use Essential Oils In Humidifiers?

Essential Oils Can Clog Humidifiers

Oil and water don’t mix, and most humidifiers are not designed to evaporate oils.

The oil can clog parts of the humidifier — especially with cool mist humidifiers — making it harder for it to humidify the room.

If you don’t remove the clog, the oil buildup could further damage the humidifier and break it.

Essential Oils Are Corrosive

Most essential oils are corrosive, especially citrus extracts like orange or lemon oil.

If added to a humidifier, they can corrode and crack the plastic tank.

Important Note:

Only humidifiers specifically designed for essential oils will run adequately with them.

Essential Oils Are Less Effective In Humidifiers

Essential oils have specific aromatic properties that can bring certain health benefits when inhaled.

The large amount of water in a humidifier can dilute the oils to the point that their efficiency is greatly reduced.

This could make them redundant and you could get no benefit from the expensive oils.

Essential Oils Can Be Altered In A Humidifier

A warm mist humidifier boils water to produce water vapor.

Should you add essential oils directly into the humidifier’s tank, the high heat could alter their chemical properties.

As a result, their scent could change, you could lose their health benefits, or — in a nightmare scenario — they could turn toxic.

TL;DR: Using essential oils in an incompatible humidifier can damage it beyond repair.


Best Essential Oils To Diffuse In Your Home

So you have your essential oil-safe humidifier and are ready to add a calming scent to your home. But which oils should you choose?

I’ve tried a lot of different oils over the years. Here are my recommendations for the top essential oils you can try using with your corrosion-resistant humidifier:

Oil

Benefits

Eucalyptus

Relieves congestion and reduces coughing. It may also relief asthma and sinus symptoms

Lavender

Great for promoting sleep. It can reduce stress, headaches, and relieve muscle tension.

Lemon

Contains plenty of Vitamin C that can boost immune system and relieve congestion.

Lemongrass

Contains antibacterial agensts. It can also help moisturize skin and provide relief for conditions like psoriasis.

Peppermint

A great eye-opener in the morning. It has many soothing properties for skin and irritations.

Sandalwood

Has a calming effect and promotes better mental health. It can help with stress and anxiety.

Tea Tree

Contains great benefits for skin and can particularly help relieve acne.


Common Questions

How Do You Clean Essential Oil Out Of A Humidifier?

You can clean essential oils from a humidifier’s non-electrical parts with warm soapy water and a bit of vinegar. Take the machine apart according to the instruction manual and gently clean and dry the parts before reassembling.

Can I Use Boiled Water In A Humidifier?

You shouldn’t pour boiled water into a humidifier. Boiled water has a high concentration of minerals that can cause mineral deposits and reduce the humidifier’s effectiveness.

Can You Put Vicks In A Cool Mist Humidifier?

You can’t put Vicks products in a humidifier. They can be harmful when inhaled and flammable in certain conditions. Only use Vicks VapoSteam in a Vicks vaporizer if you need relief.


No, Don’t Use Essential Oils In Humidifier

I’ve been using essential oils together with my humidifier for years to create a soothing, spa-like home environment.

I’ve also learned that adding the oils directly into a regular humidifier is a terrible idea.

You can put essential oils in a humidifier if you just choose the right unit.

Find a humidifier with an essential oils compartment or corrosion-resistant tank to bring an aromatic element to your personal space.

References: 

  1. http://article.jopsci.org/pdf/10.11648.j.jps.20210902.14.pdf
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Ile Kauppila

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Ile Kauppila
Ile Kauppila is a globetrotting writer and editor living in Virginia. Ile holds an MA degree in Multimedia Journalism and a BA in English Philology. Ile has written for a variety of home, HVAC, and energy-related websites and publications. He has covered HVAC solutions, insulation, and energy-efficient construction, automotive AC systems for multiple auto dealerships and garages.

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