The ultimate guide to diffusing essential oils
Open up a bottle of Wild Orange essential oil and the first thing you experience is its zingy, energising aroma. Using essential oils aromatically is one of the most effective ways to harness their incredible power.
Why use essential oils aromatically?
Not only is the aromatic use of essential oils extremely convenient and simple, but it also offers immediate benefits such as promoting a calm, stable environment, purifying the air, managing mood and emotions, and more.
While topical and internal application require the body to come in contact with the oil, aromatic application only requires the essential oil to pass through the nose in order to offer benefits.
Aromatic use for mood management and emotional wellness
The smell receptors located on the upper surface of the nasal cavity have direct links with the limbic system of the brain, an area that governs the body’s emotional responses. Because of this, using oils aromatically allows us to achieve a desired effect, depending on the chemical structure of the essential oil.
Whether you need to stabilise your emotions, calm anxious feelings, promote feelings of motivation, or encourage relaxation, there is an essential oil with the perfect chemical components to help you manage your mood and achieve a desired result. As the aroma of an essential oil interacts with the chemical sensors in the brain, it will elicit a reaction— allowing the user to choose a specific oil to help produce a specific effect.
Aromatic use for physiological benefits
Intriguing new research* has also helped us recognize that the benefits of aroma extend far beyond just emotional regulation. In addition to influencing the limbic region of the brain, olfactory centers are also intricately linked with the hypothalamus, an area of the brain more familiarly nicknamed the “visceral control center” because it controls physiologic functions throughout the body. The hypothalamus exerts its powerful influence by interacting directly with the pituitary gland, or “master gland,” a small gland located in the brain. The pituitary gland secretes hormones involved in the regulation of blood pressure, hunger and thirst signals, thyroid function, sleep cycles, production of sexual hormones, and memory, among other things. Because of the direct link of the olfactory system to this area of the brain, aroma is capable of interacting directly with the hypothalamus, influencing neurochemistry throughout the body, and, in turn, potentiating powerful health outcomes.
Aromatic use and purifying the air
Another major benefit of using essential oils aromatically is their ability to purify the air. Getting rid of unwanted odors and replacing them with pure, pleasant scents is possible when you harness the power of potent, high quality essential oils. Today, many air-purifying agents contain harmful toxins and chemicals (please please please stop using those plug-in air fresheners!!!), which makes the aromatic use of essential oils even more desirable. Essential oils provide a safe, natural way to purify the air in any room, without inhaling harmful toxins.
Why use a diffuser rather than an Oil burner?
Diffusing essential oils in a diffuser not only makes the oil accessible to the body, but research indicates that there are also air purification benefits when diffusing oils.
When diffusing oils, the use of cold air or hydrodiffusion is best because burning or heating pure essential oils can alter their delicate chemistry. While you might receive some of the aroma, the therapeutic benefits of the oils can be lost when burning. So, even if you already have an oil burner, you’ll want to get yourself a diffuser because it’s such an effective way to use essential oils safely.
Most diffusers work when cold water is poured in to a certain level, and a few drops of essential oils are added.The benefit of using oils this way is that only 6-8 drops are needed for hours of diffusion. Another great thing about using essential oils is that they stay in the air long after diffusing so you continue to harness the benefits.
If you don’t have a diffuser, there are other ways to enjoy the benefits of diffusing. Try adding a few drops of essential oil to your palms and cup them over your nose while you inhale deeply. This is an easy technique especially when you’re on the go. Or, add some drops of oil to a glass spray-bottle with water and spritz around the room.
Safety when diffusing oils
Because there are so many factors involved with aromatic use—the size of the room, output of a diffuser, the nature of the air in the room, etc.—it is important to follow a few guidelines.
While there is no specific recommendation made for dosage when it comes to using an essential oil diffuser for aromatic use, it is important to remember that moderation is best. I don't leave my diffuser running all day, instead I let it run for an hour and switch it off, and repeat throughout the day.
Note - if you have pets this is the best way to diffuse safely, also make sure you leave the door to the room open so they can leave if necessary.
It is also important to remember that essential oils are extremely potent, and not all oils are made equally. Just as you would only use certified pure therapeutic grade oils on your skin or internally, the same considerations need to be made for aromatic use.
My favourite diffuser blends
Here are a few of my favourite diffuser blends, for more follow along on Instagram where I share daily on stories.