Are there any benefits to using an essential oil burner vs diffuser for aromatherapy? Burning has been the traditional method for centuries. Find out why it may not be best to heat the oils.
How should you get the beneficial properties of the oils? And what’s the best way to extract the volatile components?
Should you burn them using traditional methods? Or should you use modern diffusers? Or, is it best to use an electric burner?
It might seem logical that it’s best to use essential oils the way people have traditionally been using them for thousands of years. In other words, by using an essential oil burner.
After all, if the benefits of essential oils have already been proven and using a traditional burner has been the go to method, why even bother using an electric burner?
Moreover, if a traditional essential oil burner is good enough for the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and other classical societies, shouldn’t it be powerful enough for you?
Essential oil burner vs diffuser
Well, according to this blog, Essential Oils for Living, the traditional method of putting oils in a burner isn’t the best.
Here’s what the author claims:
“Oil burners typically involve placing the oil in a ceramic dish with or without water. They use a candle or some other heat source underneath to vaporize the oils. However, the heat from the candle will actually damage your oils. Furthermore, the most volatile compounds in the oil will be dispersed first, with the heavier molecules coming later. That means you don’t receive the oil in its natural balance.”
In addition, the author states that by using a burner, the oils can catch fire:
“And if the essential oil is diluted with an alcohol such as methanol or propanol they can become dangerously flammable.”
So is the author correct in stating that if you want the full beneficial therapeutic effect of the oil you shouldn’t use a burner?
This aromatherapy practitioner, Cristina Proano-Carrion, says no.
“I’ve always worked with burners and had great results,” Proano-Carrion says. “ However, is it possible that I could have made my aromatherapy experiences even better by using a diffuser instead of a burner?” she asks.
“You’ll see lots websites that claim diffusers are better because they break down the molecules in essential oils and make them smaller. However, this isn’t true.”
So what really happens to the essential oil when applying it to a diffuser?
Proano-Carrion says that just because the droplets are physically smaller doesn’t mean that the molecules inside of them are smaller. “The truth is,” she says, “their molecular structure doesn’t change one bit!”
If this is the case then why do other people claim that diffusers are the superior method of burning oils?
Perhaps the claims are made to sell diffusers? Proano-Carrion suggests, “Don’t let sales copy fool you! You don’t need a certain piece of designer equipment to see the benefits of aromatherapy!”
In fact, on her blog post about this subject, she quotes aromatherapy expert Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D. and author of The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils. Schnaubelt argues, “Inhalation does not have to be complicated. As a matter of fact, the easier one keeps the procedure the more likely it will have benefits.”
Electric essential oil burners
On the other hand, the aforementioned author of the blog Essential Oils for Living, does have a valid point. He says that electric oil burners are the safest and most effective way to diffuse the scent of essential oils around your home, since there is no naked flame.
The author is correct about the safety of electric burners due to the lack of flame. If you have young kids at home, you may want to consider this fact. However, his claim that electric diffusers are the most effective method of diffusing the scent is up for debate.
Besides the safety factor, why else do some people prefer electric essential oil burners? Again, proponents of electric diffusers believe modern burners completely diffuse the oil, in a superior method to other diffusers.
Most electric burners use no heat or air pumps/fans. As a result, the claim is that this method is more pure and will not damage the oils chemical composition.
Other electric burners appear like modern-day variations of classic burners. They work by adding water and drops of essential oil or candle into a small dish on the top of the electric lamp.
On the other hand, the most advanced electric essential oil burners use modern ultrasound technology to supposedly enhance the oil dispensing effects.
But are these innovative electric burners better than traditional oil burners and diffusers?
How to burn essential oils without a diffuser
To be sure, you don’t need an essential oil burner or diffuser for essential oils. There are ways to get the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils without a diffuser.
In fact, the easiest way to get an energizing lift or relaxing whiff of oil is to just open a bottle of your favorite oil and inhale several times.
And if your essential oil is safe for topical use, you can pour a few drops into the palms of your hand and breath in. You can also pour hot or boiling water into a large coffee mug and disperse some drops of oil.
Additionally, to clear up your sinuses, you can place a towel over your head and place your head over a large pot of boiling water with 15-20 drops of eucalyptus oil.
Got unscented candles? Light a candle and after the wax starts to melt, add a few drops of oil.
Here’s another way to benefit from essential oils without equipment. Simply drop some oils to your bath, again, making sure that the oil is safe for topical use.
DIY essential oil burners alternatives
And this DIY website has a unique method of using oils without a burner: using rice.
The recipe calls for Jasmine rice, the essential oil of your choice and a small dish or container. To make, put the rice into a container. Next, add in 15 – 20 drops of essential oil. Then, mix the rice and oil and stir or shake very well. Pour the essential oil rice into a tray or dish. Don’t eat unless it’s food-grade safe. On the contrary, the purpose of this rice it to just place it somewhere that you want a fresh scent. The recipe creator claims that when this unique air freshener loses its scent you can simply add a few more drops of essential oil and give it a quick shake.
This lifestyle blog uses reeds for a DIY essential oil burner. It requires just a few items: the essential oil of your choice (.5-1.0 oz); sweet almond oil, diffuser reeds and a glass or ceramic jar with a small neck or opening.
First, clean the container with hot soapy water. Next, add in a ratio of 30% essential oil and 70% almond oil. Swirl the combination well. After that, place 8-12 diffuser reeds in the jar. After some time, the reeds will soak up the oil’s scent. And when the scent begins to fade, flip the reeds upside down.
Deciding which is the best method to use essential oil is up for debate. You should determine which method best suits your need as well as your budget.
Many burners and diffusers can cost upwards of $200. If safety is a factor and you’re afraid of errant flames, go with an electric burner or diffuser. If simplicity is your style, a traditional oil burner can do the job just as effectively as the most modern electric machines.