Your Essential Oil Diffuser May Be the Reason You Can't Chill Out

While your essential oil diffuser makes for a chic interior design piece that also provides therapeutic peace, it could actually be doing more harm than good.

Although this holistic approach to healing has plenty of pros from easing nausea to inducing sleep, diffusers can also trigger health problems if not used properly, especially for people with sensitivities to aromas.

Besides consulting a doctor before using a diffuser, understanding diffusing best practices will help ensure you're gaining all its benefits without experiencing not-so-soothing side effects. Read on for our specialist-backed guide.

How Much Essential Oil Should You Put in Your Diffuser?

It depends on the essential oil, says Sara Panton, CEO and cofounder of Vitruvi, but 15 to 25 drops is a good baseline to follow. "Some oils are more potent smelling such as eucalyptus and tea tree and need fewer drops, while others are softer such as geranium and frankincense," she explained.

The amount of essential oil also depends on the size of your diffuser. If your device doesn't provide instructions, Wellness Aromas suggests using three to five drops for a 100 ml diffuser, six to 10 drops for a 200 ml diffuser, nine to 12 drops for a 300 ml diffuser, 12 to 15 drops for a 400 ml diffuser, and 15 to 20 drops for a 500 ml diffuser.

How Long Should You Use a Diffuser?

For those who are sensitive to essential oils, Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, urges you not use a diffuser at all. If you aren't, she recommends not exceeding 30 to 60 minutes maximum.

According to the Tisserand Institute, intermittent diffusing (30 to 60 minutes on and then 30 to 60 minutes off) is best because the body's nervous system habituates after this amount of time. Continuous diffusing is believed to induce body stress in various ways.

Can Diffusers Trigger Health Problems?

Dr. Parikh noted that asthmatics are sensitive to aromas in general, while some may even be allergic to certain scents. Aerosolized essential oils (which release volatile organic compounds into the air such as terpene) have the potential to trigger asthma attacks.

Dr. Parikh says many individuals are allergic to the actual essential oils, too, which can cause rashes, coughing, wheezing, and even more severe reactions. Headaches are also a possible side effect.

If hot oil from a diffuser gets on your skin, it can cause chemical burns. To avoid this, Panton suggests purchasing a high-quality ultrasonic diffuser, which uses "an oscillating plate that results in a room-temperature mist," rather than heat.

How Often Should You Clean a Diffuser?

Panton recommends cleaning your diffuser once a week by diffusing water and a teaspoon of white vinegar for an hour before wiping clean. This will help prevent mold, dust mites, and bacteria buildup.

Does the Size Space You're Diffusing in Matter?

It's important to consider the square footage and ceiling height of the space you are scenting, as it can influence the potency of your diffusing experience, Panton says.

While there is no need to open a window while using a diffuser, she does recommend doing so as a way of recirculating the air in your home if a scent is too overbearing.

Can You Sleep With Your Diffuser On?

Dr. Parikh advises against falling asleep with your diffuser on, especially if that means exceeding her recommend usage time or if you have sensitivities to essential oils.

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