Are you making these common diffusing mistakes that can degrade your oils into dangerous toxins? Click the image to find out what the top 4 mistakes to avoid when diffusing essential oils are!

Top 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Diffusing Essential Oils 8

Diffusing is a great method to use to enjoy the benefits of essential oils, plus it’s generally safer than other methods because the diffusion through the air is a forced dilution, minimizing the risk of an adverse reaction. However, this generally safe method can become toxic when implemented incorrectly, so I thought it was important to go over some common mistakes to avoid when diffusing essential oils.

Top 4 Mistakes to Avoid when Diffusing Essential Oils

Mistake 1: Using a Wax Warmer

Are you making these common diffusing mistakes that can degrade your oils into dangerous toxins? Click the image to find out what the top 4 mistakes to avoid when diffusing essential oils are!This is by far the most common and most disturbing mistake I see people making when diffusing their essential oils, and it is a common method recommended by bloggers. The reason this is a mistake is because this method involves heat. 

As I mentioned in my post about ways to diffuse essential oils on a budget, heat destroys essential oils at the molecular level, often transforming them into toxic compounds. [1] So not only are you not getting the benefit of the original oil, but you may also be poisoning yourself if you diffuse using this method. 

Mistake 2: Diluting Oils Before Diffusing

Atomizers and ultrasonic diffusers are meant to be used with pure essential oils or undiluted blends of essential oils. The reason I see people getting confused is because a lot of oils have a minimum recommended dilution for use, and it’s not always clarified that this is generally a minimum dilution for skin application. 

As I mentioned earlier, diffusing an oil is a sort of forced dilution: when it comes to ultrasonic diffusers you are adding the oil to a much larger amount of water which is one dilution and when the oil diffuses into the air it is technically diluted into the air (because you can’t possibly breathe in every single molecule of the oil that has gotten into the air). With atomizers, the dilution occurs only in the air, but you are still inhaling a much smaller amount of the oil than if you applied the same amount of oil directly to your skin. 

Mistake 3: Using Essential Oils to Make Scented Candles

This is similar to mistake number 1, and is a mistake for the same reason: heat. Burning essential oils causes them to degrade and some become toxic, so no matter how fun that DIY candle looks, if it involves heat and essential oils, just don’t do it.  

Mistake 4: Not Considering Pets when Diffusing Essential Oils

Not all essential oils are safe to use around pets, and most especially cats. Cats lack a certain enzyme in their liver that makes them unable to process certain compounds that humans and other mammals (such as dogs) are able to process. Due to this inability to process things out of their system, over time toxic buildup can occur leading to health problems and even death. 

Related: Essential Oil Safety Tips for Cat Owners

Diffusing oils that are toxic to cats is much more dangerous than simply applying them to your own skin, because when the oil fills the air, your cat is forcibly exposed, whereas when they are just on your skin the likelihood of your cat’s exposure is much lower. 

So to recap:

  • Don’t mix essential oils and heat
  • Dilution before diffusing isn’t necessary
  • Check this post for oils toxic to cats, and then don’t diffuse those oils


About Rachel

Rachel is a blogger and Biophysics Lab Manager who lives in Clemson, SC (go tigers!). After studying conventional pharmaceuticals and how they target specific ailments, she applied that knowledge to figuring out how essential oils can work to treat the same ailments, and ended up creating the blog The Essential Girl. When she’s not blogging or sciencing the shit out of something in the lab, she likes to swing dance and teach group fitness classes.

  • Oh no! I have defiantly been guilty of number 1 in the past. I have a small wax burner which burns using a single tea light candle. I have from time to time put a few drops of oils in their, thinking it would add to the smell, but in fact it didn’t. Now I know why!

  • I’ve been guilty of number 2 myself. I’ve diluted oils with water multiple times. But yes, it’s very important to consider pets when it comes to aromatherapy. They often have stronger sensitivity to smells than we do. Great post!

  • HordAholic

    I’m about to get started with Essential Oils, thanks for these keys tips! Found your link on the BFF Facebook group!

  • Katie

    How much heat will damage the oils? There is a deodorant recipe that
    includes melting beeswax with other ingredients, cooling a bit, then
    adding in some essential oils. Would that be too hot for them, or would
    they be okay? Same for a lip balm made with beeswax, or carnauba. Please advise.

    • It is very dependent on which oil you are using. Studies have found that some oils are more stable at cooler (refrigerator) temperatures and others will degrade faster when kept that cool. As a general rule of thumb, try not to let oils get warmer than 25C or 77F. Check out this link and scroll down to the temperature section of the publication to read about how temperature affects different oils.

  • Marites T. Ignacio

    the ultrasonic diffuser requires a certain volume of liquid to work. if it will not be dluted with water, how will it be done?

    • It actually will be diluted by the water, and then further diluted as it is dispersed through the air. It is standard practice to put 2-10 drops of undiluted essential oil in an ultrasonic diffuser.

      • Marites T. Ignacio