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All About Diffusing Essential Oils

Inhalation of Essential Oils

Did you know that inhalation of essential oils is the best way to balance mind-body health? When you inhale a scent, the response time is instant. Scent molecules travel through the nose to limbic structures in the brain to activate a response whether to relax, energize, balance, shift or empower movement (physically and of emotions and thoughts). Adding essential oils to an aromatherapy diffuser or diffusing apparatus provides a simple, convenient, yet powerful way to experience aromatic scents that deliver therapeutic benefits.

Listen in to this video clip where I talk about diffusing essential oils, benefits, instructions and more.

Questions About Diffusing Essential Oils From Our Students

Q: How long can I safely leave my diffuser on?
A: First, you need to refer to the instructions and safety guidelines that are included in the diffuser device that you have. Become familiar with the features and functions on your device as each one is a little different. I personally have an ultrasonic diffuser and I run mine sometimes 2-3 hours, intermittently. Other times  I run it a constant 30 minutes, 3-4 times daily.  When I had a retail shop and day spa, I ran the diffuser all day from open to close, refilling the scents each morning and mid-afternoon. Technically, if you diffuse the essential oils for 5 minutes (in a light dilution), you will get a therapeutic benefit. In addition, you will receive therapy from that 5 minutes session for hours to come. So the additional time diffused, is a personal preference or can depend on the purpose and situation.

Q: How many drops should I use in my diffuser?
A: On average I typically use between 2-8 total drops of essential oil. It depends on the purpose, how big the room is where I am diffusing, and how many oils I want to use in the diffuser. If it is in a closed room, use less oils than if the room is open. Also, if animals are present, don’t go on the high end. An added note, make sure diffusers are not near birds, fish, or a pet’s drinking water & food.

Q: How long does a room spray stay scented in the air?
A: It can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours, depending on a few factors:

  • Square footage of the location
  • Which Essential oils are diffused (top, middle and/or base notes)
  • Room ventilation

Q: Once I put essential oils in my diffuser, how fast do they lose their therapeutic qualities?
A: I am not sure if there is a scientific answer. However, from personal experience, I would want to keep scents fresh daily.  The longer they are exposed to the air, the faster they oxidize and evaporate. So, my advice is to add the essential oils to the diffuser at the time you will be diffusing them. Not pre-filling them a day or two before. As the essential oils are “burned off”, the water dissipates as well.

Q: Is there one diffuser better than the other?
A: I personally like with ultrasonic diffusers, or non-electric diffusers. Ultrasonic diffusers are one of the best and most affordable ways to use your essential oils, as it does not burn off any therapeutic value.  These diffusers create a vibration by slightly warming the water in the vessel, that emits the scent molecules into the air. The top notes, which are most volatile, are typically released first, followed by the middle and based notes.  The timing of this sequence is pretty quick when it comes to detecting the scent via the olfaction process.  A trained nose will be able to detect the layered release of scent molecules.

Q: Once I make a salve or lotion using carrier oils and possibly shea butter or beeswax, how long do they stay potent, therapeutic wise and from a scent (inhalation) perspective?
A: Of course the goal of a blend should be to use it up within 3 months, just as you would any personal care product. Make sure to replace the cap on the blend immediately after use to minimize oxidation and scent fatigue. Typically, I usually plan on a 6-9 months shelf-life before potency will start to decrease. Determining factors to consider for product potency are:

  • Quality of the essential oils and ingredients that you are using. The better, more organic the quality, the shorter the shelf life as there are no preservatives or synthetics. If something last for a long time, you should be concerned and research the quality.
  • Exposure time to heat and sunlight can decrease shelf-life and increase rancidity
  • Specific ingredients used, such as citrus oils have a shorter shelf life than flowers oils. Flower oils have a shorter shelf life than tree and wood oils. If a blend has some base notes in it, it can lengthen the shelf-life. Certain carrier oils are heartier that other oils, as well.

Q: Are glass or plastic bottles preferred to create aromatherapy blends?  How does this affect the spray diffusion of scents?
A: Dark colored glass bottles and jars are always the best choice. This can help preserve the scent quality to ensure freshness every time you spray or use it. However, BPA-free plastic is a nice option too, especially for the bath area, children and for traveling. When using plastic, it is important to ensure you use BPA-free, to avoid and minimize any leaching potential. There is a faster oxidation of the essential oils in plastic.

Q: With a spray recipe that has water, plant enzymes or a silver solution, and an emulsifier, how long should I expect them to stay fresh?
A: This will depend on the particular essential oils you choose for a blend. Freshness can last, anywhere from 6-9 months. Citrus oils have a shorter shelf life. If base notes, woods and heartier herbaceous scents are added in, that will extend shelf-life.

Q: I have a client that gets chills immediately if she inhales (via diffusion) or uses anything with eucalyptus or peppermint in it. Why is this?
A: Although my answer is not a scientific one, camphoresque oils do infuse a “freshness”, or “coolness” when inhaled or used in a topical blend. That is part of its response that occurs from its chemistry and  properties. Think of it like blowing on a wound to cool it down.

Q: How much essential oils do I add to a nasal atomizer?
A: It is really a two-fold answer. To keep a nasal inhaler “full” of scent to last a few weeks, saturating the wick is recommended. Have the client inhaling the scent 1-3 sniffs, 2-3 times daily or as needed. Alternately, if you are making a custom blend for someone, especially a child, then I’d say scenting the wick with 4-6 drops would be good (although 1-2 total drops would be suffice to achieve results). In this case, you’d need to re-scent the wick every 2-4 days with 1-2 drops. Of course over saturating the wick where there is liquid dripping from the wick, I’d say might be too much.

Check out more aromatherapy FAQ’s here. Happy diffusing!


Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. It is recommended that if serious health issues exist, you consult a licensed medical provider. JennScents does not assume liability or responsibility for the use and/or misuse of this information.

References: This blog contains excerpts from JennScents Aromaversity Certification Courses and the JennScents Holistic Aromatherapy Comprehensive Guide.

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