Can You Put Essential Oils In A Humidifier?

Can you put essential oils in a humidifier? 

Generally speaking, humidifiers should not be used with essential oils, as they are not designed to diffuse essential oils or fragrances. 

Putting essential oils in a humidifier could cause damage to the humidifier. 

That said, there are special types of humidifiers that are specifically designed to be used with essential oils. Alternatively, you can get an essential oil diffuser. 

We’ve been reviewing and recommending humidifiers for as long as we can remember. So if you are unsure about anything related to humidifiers, leave it to us. 

Keep reading to learn more about putting essential oils in a humidifier. 

Can You Use Essential Oils In A Humidifier? 

The answer to this question used to be pretty straightforward.

It used to be common knowledge that essential oils cannot and should not be used in a humidifier. 

But these days, there are special humidifiers that you can put essential oils in. 

For the most part, you shouldn’t put essential oils in a humidifier, as doing so could cause problems with sensitive internal components such as the diffuser, the filter, or even the nozzle of your humidifier. 

It is always best to consult the manual or the manufacturer’s website before putting essential oil in your humidifier. Doing so will give you the most accurate information about whether or not you can use essential oils in your particular humidifier.

To understand why essential oils and humidifiers have such a love-hate relationship, we must first understand how a humidifier works and what makes it tick. 

How A Humidifier Works

Humidifiers are simple machines used to increase the amount of water vapor i.e. humidify the air a space. They work by diffusing water into tiny particles that are then released into the air in the form of mist. 

Here, these particles increase the amount of water vapor in the air thus increasing the humidity. 

Most humidifiers have a pretty simple design: a tank for storing water, a diffuser for converting the water into mist, a fan or something similar to disperse the mist into the surroundings, and a nozzle that directs where the mist goes once it leaves the humidifier. 

So why can’t you use essential oils in your humidifier unit?

Why You Can’t Put Essential Oils In A Humidifier

It all has to do with the different properties of water and essential oils. 

The internal components of most humidifiers are designed to work with water and its unique physical properties. 

Essential oils have vastly different physical properties, which can actually damage your humidifier and cause problems with the performance. 

For one, essential oils have a higher viscosity than water, which means their consistency is thicker than water.

 Furthermore, essential oils are actually corrosive. That means essential oils can cause the sensitive internal components of your humidifier to degrade with continued exposure. 

Lastly, some types of humidifiers boil water before releasing it into the air. If you try to use essential oils in one of these humidifiers, the result could be disastrous.

Boiling essential oils changes their unique chemical makeup. Not only does this damage the humidifier, it could also result in some health issues for you, your family, and even your pets. 

With that in mind, which humidifiers are safe for you to put essential oils in and how  do they manage to diffuse these essential oils effectively? 

Which Humidifiers Can You Put Essential Oils In?

If you want to use a humidifier to diffuse essential oils around a space while also increasing the humidity, you need to get a humidifier that is specifically built to work with essential oils. 

These units often come with a dedicated aroma tray that you can load the essential oils into. 

Even then, manufacturers only recommend using a few drops of the essential oil at a time. This is usually more than enough to fill a room while letting the humidifier work properly. 

Here are the different types of humidifiers you can put essential oils in. 

Evaporative Humidifiers

Evaporative humidifiers should never be used with essential oils. These humidifiers use a wicking filter that absorbs water. This water is then evaporated and a fan directs this water vapor into the air. 

The reason they can’t handle essential oils is because particles from the essential oils can very easily get caught in the filter. This increases chances of the filter breaking down quicker, and may even render it useless. 

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

Some ultrasonic humidifiers can be used with essential oils, while others can’t. Here’s why. 

Ultrasonic humidifiers use a slightly different method for diffusing water compared to evaporative humidifiers. Instead of a wicking filter, they use something called a nebulizer. This is a component that vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies, which break down the water into fine mist. 

This mist is then propelled into the air, thus increasing the amount of water in the air. 

You might think all ultrasonic humidifiers are safe to use with essential oils. However, that is not the case, and you should never, under any circumstances, put essential oils directly into the water tank of an ultrasonic humidifier. 

There are very specific models of ultrasonic humidifier that can actually diffuse essential oils. These are the models that have an aromatherapy function. Aromatherapy is the process of diffusing essential oils and other fragrances into the air. 

Ultrasonic humidifiers that have an aromatherapy function will also have a dedicated tray, separate from the water tank, that you can put essential oils in. 

Again, you need to be sure that your particular model supports aromatherapy. You can confirm this by referring to the manual or the manufacturer’s website. 

Steam Humidifiers

Here again, it depends on the exact model of your humidifier. Some steam humidifiers can be used to diffuse essential oils, while others can’t.

A steam humidifier uses a heating element to boil water. There is no wicking filter in these humidifiers, and the mist that is produced by boiling water is simply released into the air for humidification. 

Steam humidifiers are most commonly used to diffuse a medicated mist around your space. These humidifiers can be used with things like VapoRub to make a medicated mist that helps clear up congestion, soothe your throat and nasal passages, and even treat flu and cold. 

Like ultrasonic humidifiers, some steam humidifiers come with an essential oil tray, while others don’t. It’s always best to do your due diligence and figure out if the steam humidifier you’re thinking of buying has an aromatherapy function. 

Essential Oil Diffusers

Lastly, we have essential oil diffusers. As you can probably tell from the name, these aren’t even humidifiers. They cannot increase the humidity of a space, and are made for the express purpose of diffusing essential oils into the air. 

These are by far the best options for diffusing essential oils, as they are specifically designed with the components needed to do so. 


To sum up, we learned that while some humidifiers allow you to put essential oils in them, others do not. This is because of the different physical properties of water and essential oils. 

Generally speaking, you should not put essential oil in a humidifier. It could severely damage your humidifier, or even cause some health concerns for you and yours.  

If you want to use your humidifier to diffuse essential oils around a space, you’ll have to get purpose-built humidifiers that have an aromatherapy function. This will usually be in the form of a tray that takes essential oils. 

You should never put essential oils directly into the water tank of your humidifier, even if it has an aromatherapy function. 

You cannot put essential oils in evaporative humidifiers, whereas you may or may not be able to do so in other types of humidifiers such as steam and ultrasonic humidifiers. 

And finally, if all you want is an aromatherapy function, you will be better off getting a dedicated essential oil diffuser over a humidifier.


Shawn Willis is all about humidifiers. After working for some of the biggest names in the industry, he started HumidifierGuys with Scott Dawson. Now, the dynamic duo helps others figure out what they need in their next humidifier.

Shawn is an avid sports fan, motorcycle enthusiast, and has two dogs named Whiskey and Boba.