by Lisa J. Byers, CAHP and CFA Research Committee member
Because safety is top-of-mind when diffusing, we asked you to reflect on a number of important questions.
And in Part 3, we discussed how ‘Wise Diffusing Saves You $$$’ – because who doesn’t like saving money?
Now in Part 4 we provide some tips and things to look for when purchasing a diffuser for the first time and we provide a list of best practices when cleaning your diffuser.
Purchasing a Diffuser
Designs and manufacturers of diffusers are constantly changing. Here are a few factors to consider when purchasing an ultrasonic diffuser. One, make sure the unit has a timer! The smaller the first increment, the better (i.e., the unit auto-shuts off at 30 minutes; if you already own a diffuser and it does not have a timer, don’t worry. Simply use your stove’s timer or your phone’s). Two, match the size of the bowl to your intended space. Three, check-out the warranty. This is sensitive technology! Things can go wrong and you want to make sure you’re covered.
Cleaning your Ultrasonic Diffuser
Before I get into my recommendations for when and how to clean your diffuser, a note about water. The manufacturer may or may not have a recommendation about the type of water you use in your unit. If they do, then follow it. If they don’t, I recommend either distilled water or reverse osmosis water. Here’s why: most tap water is filled with minerals (e.g., fluoride, calcium, magnesium, iron etc.); these minerals will clog-up your precious ultrasonic diffuser (remember, the small steel plate at the base of the bowl?). Distilled water has had its contaminants and minerals removed and can be purchased in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Be eco-friendly and source a refillable option.
Back to cleaning your diffuser. My basic rule of thumb: If you diffuse daily then you need to clean your unit weekly. Following the manufacturer’s instructions is always recommended. This is what I do. After unplugging your diffuser and dumping the remaining water into the sink, I take a couple of tissues to gently wipe out the inside of the bowl where the ultrasonic diffuser plate lives. Why do you need to do this?
Essential oil residue will accumulate — leaving a residue inside the bowl and on the precious diffusing technology. And there may also be a sticky residue on the hood or lid of your diffuser that also needs cleaning. Once you’ve wiped the inside of the bowl, use a new tissue, and GENTLY and CAREFULLY wipe and clean the small steel plate inside the bowl. After a cleaning, I advise using your unit for at least 30 minutes, with no essential oils. This allows the ultrasonic diffuser to release only a water mist. In this way, you will be able to tell if the small steel plate is clogged without wasting your essential oils.
Caution: Most bowls are made of plastic. Should you choose to use a ‘cleaner’ — be warned that the plastic may absorb the aroma of the cleaner, which will then be diffused the next time you use your diffuser (I found that even vinegar is absorbed by the plastic). If you follow these suggestions, your diffuser should remain in good working condition.
- Choose your essential oils with care - consider the Who, What, When, Where and Why of diffusing and do your research
- Keep your expectations in check (i.e. insisting that a large space be ‘fragranced’)
- Always use a timer
- Diffuse in 30-minute intervals
- Clean your unit regularly
Stay healthy and happy.
*Disclaimer* The CFA suggests following the advice of public health and does not intend to suggest or imply that aromatherapy, essential oils or aromatic compounds are effective or a reliable substitute for public health recommendations.