When winter comes knocking, there is usually the frantic effort to make our indoor air as humid as we need it to be. Winter often comes with its dry air which uses up the warmth in our homes and reduces humidity in the process. For many of us, a humidifier is the best bet.
As small and simple as they may seem, humidifiers are very effective in adding moisture to indoor air and making it safer for us. However, if what you have is a diffuser, you’re probably wondering if a diffuser can also be used as a humidifier.
By operation, a diffuser and a humidifier serve different purposes, but they work using the same mechanism; releasing some sort of vapor into the air.
A diffuser is used to release essential oils into the air to improve the smell of the room and help get rid of fungus and bacteria. Essential oils are added to the water in the diffuser tank and gradually released as steam.
A humidifier, on the other hand, adds moisture to the room by releasing steam or mist into the air. This helps to prevent skin, nasal and respiratory irritation that excess dryness can cause.
But is it possible to leave out the essential oils and use a diffuser in place of a humidifier?
Can a diffuser be used instead of a humidifier?
The simple answer is Yes. There are several details to be considered but it is certainly possible to use a diffuser as a humidifier. You may ask how, and that is expected.
Of all the types of diffusers out there, ultrasonic diffusers are the most closely related to ultrasonic humidifiers. They both have a water reservoir, release broken down water as mist, and uses ultrasonic technology.
Both appliances also require water; the humidifier using water as its main raw material and diffusers using water as a carrier for essential oils.
A diffuser uses water (to which essential oils are added) to produce fragranced steam. By not adding essential oils, moisture can be released through a diffuser into the room.
However, it is important to note that a diffuser is relatively smaller and cannot produce as much steam as a typical humidifier. So, depending on the size of the room and the extent of dryness, a diffuser may or may not be effective.
Furthermore, diffusers are not built to run as long or as frequently as humidifiers. So, apart from not having the capacity to release as much mist as a humidifier, they can only run for as much as 30 minutes at any given time for a few times everyday.
Although running it without essential oils may give room for longer periods and increased frequency, it still does not measure up to the performance of humidifiers.
Tests have been carried out on several occasions to determine if a diffuser can raise the humidity in a room significantly.
In fact, our own independent tests till date showed only a slight humidity increase of 2% (from 21% to 23%) over a 1 hour period of running a diffuser.
A humidifier, on the other hand, increased the humidity level of the same room on a different date from 20% to as much as 27% in one hour.
So, you can use a diffuser (if you wish) in place of a humidifier, but you’re likely not going to get the results you desire. It is like riding a bicycle from Oklahoma to Tennessee through Arkansas when you can use a plane or a car. Yes, you can, but should you?
Benefits of using a diffuser as a humidifier
If you do decide to go along with a diffuser in place of a humidifier, there are a few benefits you’ll get.
1. Reduced need for multiple appliances
Think about it; there are so many needs at home as far as our indoor climate is concerned. Humidifiers, dehumidifiers, diffusers, air purifiers and air conditioners are some of them.
Finding a way to work around all these appliances without buying them all will be good for your pocket and your home as well. If your diffuser can do the job of a humidifier based on your needs, then you shouldn’t have a need for a humidifier.
2. Reduced energy consumption
Energy cost is one of the highest across the world. In Hawaii, residents pay as high as 27.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the Energy Information Administration.
We have had to adjust our lifestyles and become more conservative with energy use. Using a diffuser as a humidifier means using just one appliance for two things rather than have both running simultaneously.
3. Space saving
Doing without a humidifier will also save you some room. Things can get quite clumsy and rowdy with appliances sitting all around. As much as possible, if you can reduce the number of appliances in your home, you should.
4. Saved capital
This is another very important advantage of using a diffuser as a humidifier. It means you may not have to buy a humidifier separately, as that would cost you some money.
The average humidifier will cost you an initial average investment of $100. If you can save that much for other needs, it makes a lot of sense.
Disadvantages of using a diffuser as a humidifier
1. Inadequate Humidity
This is the first reason you shouldn’t use a diffuser in place of a humidifier. It doesn’t produce sufficient humidity. We already established earlier that a diffuser will not produce as much moisture as the average humidifier.
If you live in the very cold regions of the world, currently living through winter or in the very dry regions, a diffuser is unlikely to help the situation. You may want to reconsider your options.
2. Overstressed diffuser
Another disadvantage is that you’ll be stressing the diffuser and reducing its lifespan by making it take on two jobs.
Remember that the diffuser is originally designed to work for a maximum of 30 minutes per time for a few times everyday?
That is how much essential oils should be dispersed into your room and manufacturers have that in mind when they produce diffusers.
Using it as a humidifier means using it for longer periods and more frequently, and this can lead to its breakdown faster.
3. Risk of allergies and illnesses
Without proper humidity, your room will remain dry and dryness breeds allergies like dust mites and other allergens which can cause breakouts on your skin, nose bleeding and even irritation in your throat and lungs.
Maintaining the right humidity level is important and a diffuser may not just be enough to do that.
Our advice is that you buy appliances that do their jobs effectively. If you have cold and dry climate very often and it bothers you, it is important to go for a durable and functional humidifier to keep your room humidity level in check.
You may also decide to get a diffuser on the other hand to keep your air fresh, clean and healthy at all times. To save cost, you may look out for those efficient combos online or at stores near you. Just be sure they do the work manufacturers make claims about.