The Differences Between Nebulizers, Vaporizers and Diffusers

To complement the MASSAGE Magazine column, “Aromatherapy for Massage Therapists: An Introduction to Blending,” by Dorene Petersen, in the March 2012 issue. Article summary: Before blending your essential oils, it is important to think about your goal. If your goal is natural, aromatic perfumery, selection of your aroma notes will be different than if you are blending therapeutically for clinical aromatherapy purposes. That is not to say the two are mutually exclusive; however, you will likely take a different approach for each.

by Jeff Shepherd

Technology has come a long way since the first massage practitioner floated flower petals in a bowl of water—and aromatherapy has become an integral part of any massage practice.

Today’s modern therapists have many types of essential oil diffusers to choose from. It is important to understand the therapeutic and technological differences between them, because the term diffuser covers a range of products.

Aromatherapy diffusers generally fall into one of three categories, burners excluded: pad diffusers, vaporizing diffusers and nebulizing diffusers.

The simplest form of diffuser is the pad diffuser. Because the essential oil is simply evaporated and sometimes heated, the therapeutic benefit is minimal. These are available with replaceable pads and quiet fans. Pad diffusers are nice for scenting areas for a short period of time and are inexpensive.

The next type of diffuser is the ultrasonic vaporizer (diffuser). This is an interesting type of diffuser therapeutically, because while it scents the air with essential oils, it also creates negative ions. The negative ions have many benefits, both in the air and in the body.

Ultrasonic diffusers are popular with therapists because of their silent operation, and most come with added features like lights and speakers for your MP3 player. Ultrasonic diffusers have limited aromatherapy value and disperse scented water vapor into the air. The essential oil is added to the water in small ratios. When shopping for a vaporizer, buyer beware: Many are cheap imports and will not last. The technology used in the ultrasonics does burn out over time.

The most powerful and therapeutic type of essential oil diffuser is the nebulizing diffuser. This type of diffuser uses a cold air pump and a jet-style atomizer to nebulize pure essential oil into a micro-fine vapor. The vapor that moves through the air is actual micro droplets of pure essential oil. This pure oil vapor is extremely powerful and therapeutic. Nebulizing diffusers are the ultimate way to experience essential oils, and a high-quality nebulizing diffuser can provide a lifetime of dependable service.

Investing in an essential oil diffuser can add therapeutic benefit to any massage—and cash to your bottom line. There are many opportunities for massage therapists who use aromatherapy in their businesses. Offering essential oils and diffusers to your clients provides a powerful, health-enhancing service and grows your client base.

Jeff Shepherd is CEO of Diffuser World Inc., an American company that manufactures and distributes essential oil diffusers. He has studied aromatherapy for 15 years and has taught classes on aromatherapy around the country. For more information, visit www.DiffuserWorld.com.

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