Best essential oil diffusers: From nebulizers to Wi-Fi connected devices - the best room fresheners tested

Klaudia Balogh

Aromatherapy oil diffusers are the new plug-in air fresheners - but much better.

Take away the chemical ingredients — many of which have name you could hardly pronounce — and replace them with natural oils that refresh and energize the room without filling it with irritable toxins and allergens.

Breathing can be healing, and we could all welcome a little zen in our lives whether in the office or at home.

What’s neat about essential oil diffusers is that they don’t simply cover up the odors. They have antimicrobial properties, meaning they purify the air and disinfect it from bacteria and viruses, so you can work and live in a safe and bug-free environment. Plus, the inhaled aroma from these essential oils is often believed to enhance brain function, promote relaxation, boost the immune system and improve your sleep.

Diffusers, however, come in many shapes, forms and functionality, so we tested a selection of the best check which ones are worth the investment for either yourself or as a last-minute gift.

Nebulizing Diffuser, $95, Organic Aromas

This one is different from your usual diffusers as it works without adding any heat or water. When you think of nebulizers, you might picture a medical machine often used by patients with a lung condition such as asthma. They work effectively through atomizing liquids into an inhalable gas form, which the patient then can easily breathe in. Organic Aromas transferred that technology into its diffusers. Why is it better than vaporizing essential oils? Nebulized oils dissipate faster, leaving a more noticeable and stronger scent in the room. Since it’s not combined with water, and is instead dispersed using pressurised air, you’ll end up using more drops, 20-25, with each use, so you’ll run out of your essential oil faster. The hand-made wood base and custom-blown glass can be a refined, artistic addition to a room. It is low-energy consumption, running in cycles of two minutes on and one minute off, then turns off automatically after two hours. It also has an LED light, which you can turn on or off during the cycle. When the two hours are up, even though the nebulizing stops, the lights stay on, so you have to turn that off manually. Cleaning this diffuser requires a bit more care than the ones that use water. Add a few millilitres of plain rubbing alcohol (70-95% purity) and let it run for five or 10 minutes to clean the micro-tubes, pour out the leftover alcohol and let it dry out.

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GreenAir Serene, $59,90, Amazon

This black glass egg-shaped diffuser will add an elegant accent to any room. With its three-light dim settings, it can replace your regular night lamp or be the perfect mood lighting during a movie. It's very simple to use, just add some water in the tank underneath the glass cover and, according to its description, combine it with three to five drops of essential oil of your choice. We found, however, that the scent of the oil wasn’t too noticeable with only five drops, so we added a couple more, around eight drops for a perfect scent and water blend. It also has a couple of programmed selections; one where you turn it on and off at your convenience, or you can let it run for one or two hours at a time and it’ll stop on its own — great if you turn it on before your go to bed or don’t want pay attention to it during the day. The sound of the vaporizing motor, although very small, is not completely silent, so if you like going to sleep without any noise in the room then this might be something to get used to.

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Mini Tree Ultrasonic Diffuser, GuruNada, $34.99

This GuruNada product is a neat little diffuser that you can plug right into your computer while working. It does only have the USB cable though, so you need a converter to plug it into the wall. It’s not short on mood lighting either; the changing rainbow colors shining through the design cracks create a lovely and playful ambiance. You can set it to keep changing colors, stay on one, or have it off while keeping the mist on. It also has a built-in safety feature to shut off when the water is too low, protecting the product from burning out.

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Smart Wi-Fi Essential Oil Diffuser, Asakuki, $30.99

This diffuser is a smart high-tech choice. It connects to your smartphone, both iPhone and Android, through an app, so you can adjust the mist density, set timers and adjust the light on remotely. It’s also compatible with Amazon Echo, so if you use Alexa in your home of office, you can now add this device to the list of voice-operated gadgets. It connects to your smartphone via the Wi-Fi, but it’s only compatible with 2.5 GHz routers and not with 5.0 GHz ones. There’s a way to make it work, but if you’re not tech-savvy, this might be a bit of challenge when you first turn it on. Among the diffusers we tried, this one had the largest capacity, 500ml, and longest run time, up to six hours. And, if the water gets low, it turns off automatically. Its LED light has seven color options and you can dim each from zero to a 100%, too. It’s also a humidifier, purifying the air in your space allowing for easier breathing and less dry skin or chipped lips. It’s quiet, but not completely silent, so it’s up to you whether a little sound bothers you at night or not.

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Edens Garden Ultrasonic Ceramic Essential Oil Diffuser, $51.92, Edens Garden

This ceramic diffuser is quite aesthetic, sophisticated and will add a gentle touch of aromatherapy to your room. Blend a few drops of essential oil in water, turn it on and let it fill your space with a refined mist of healing scents. It turns off automatically when it’s out of water. The LED light creates a pleasant mood, but you can have it turned off as well. Although it’s not completely quiet, if you like relaxing music with rainfall sounds in it, then you’ll love this one. The fan creates a gentle bubbling sound as it vaporizes the water.

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Shower Diffuser, $49.95, Oasis

Whether you’re the kind of person who perfers a quick shower or a long steamy bath, this diffuser will take your bathing experience to the next level. It’s waterproof (obviously) and mounts on the shower wall easily with a sticky wall dock. You can insert one or two essential oil bottles using the included drip guards and even adjust the airflow to best enjoy the benefits of having an oasis at home. It turns off after eight minutes, so for those extended showers and baths, you’ll have to keep turning it back on for a longer mist time. It also lifetime warranty and money back guarantee. Although it’s a bit more expensive than the other ones.

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The Nebulizing Diffuser from Organic Aromas is the overall winner. It emits the essential oil the most efficiently without utilizing heat or water, so you can inhale a much more aromatherapy-dense air. The LED colors are not perfect, so used it with them turned off, but besides that it has the most beneficial effects on your environment.

We were also impressed by the Smart Wi-fi Diffuser from the Japanese designer brand Asakuki. We loved having the convenience of controlling it with a smartphone or via Alexa, and having extended time modes due to its large capacity.