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7 min read / 26 February 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

How Many Drops of Essential Oil in a Diffuser?

Diffusers are a great tool for using your essential oils and fragrance oils. Learn how much you should be adding to your favourite models here.

Diffusers are an easy, stylish, and practical way to fill our homes with our favourite aromas.

There are many ways to circulate the scent of an oil - from your basic reed diffusers and oil burners to full-blown contraptions with built-in diffuser reservoirs.

Generally though, the most common form of diffuser you'll see on the market is the electric diffuser. Electric diffusers are simple to operate and can come in many shapes and sizes, but all tend to function with steam to help circulate your chosen oils around the room.

The issue that many of us now face is, how many drops of oil in diffuser do you actually need? We'll be going through all the facts, quantities, and frequently asked questions about how to make the most out of your diffuser.

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Why do I need to worry about how much oil is in my diffuser?

While fragrance oils also work great in diffusers, most people opt for the scents of an essential oil - largely due to their added aromatherapy benefits.

As essential oils are natural substances, they can be very potent, and thus can easily cause risks if they're left diffusing for too long (more on this later).

Any scent can also become easily overwhelming if too much oil is used, plus it can cause damage to your diffuser model itself over time.

On the flip side, using too little oil in your diffuser can leave you with no scent at all, which would make the whole operation a bit pointless.

How many drops of oil should I put in my diffuser?

So, how does it work? Well, when it comes to diffusers, size definitely matters.

The size of your diffuser will greatly impact how much oil it can carry, as well as how this oil will disperse itself around your spaces.

We've made a handy little chart below that you can refer to based on the size of your particular diffuser model.

Diffuser Size Number of Drops
100ml 5-7
200ml 8-10
300ml 11-15
400ml 16-20
500ml 21-25


If you've never used a diffuser before, or if you're unsure about how the scent of an oil will carry, always start by adding less than you think you'll need.

You can then add more if you feel it's necessary, but you can't get rid of an overwhelming scent without throwing the whole water contents away, so try to avoid this if you don't want to waste oil.

It's also a good idea to bare the size of your room in mind. If you're looking to add scent to a small room, like a bathroom or closet, starting with less than the recommended is definitely a good idea.

Similarly, if you're trying to tackle a larger, more open space, try adding a drop at a time to your diffuser until you're satisfied with the aromas.

What kind of water should I use in my diffuser?

You may have heard that using distilled water or purified water in your diffuser is the best way to go, but this isn't always the case.

The primary argument for using distilled water comes from the potential build-up of minerals that tap water or bottled water can give off while heating.

When boiling a kettle, you may notice residue along the sides due to these minerals separating from the water, but this isn't really a major concern with diffusers.

In most cases, the heating of water is so mild and controlled that there's little chance of these minerals separating, so it's really a matter of personal preference whether you choose to use purified water.

Unless your diffuser model states otherwise, using regular tap water is more than fine for keeping it in good form.

Wooden diffuser on a tabletop.

How long should I leave my diffuser on for?

Most diffuser models can run up to six hours before emptying out completely. Some will also come with recommended timings on them - usually between 30 minutes and 3 hours - and may even shut off on their own after a certain point.

If your diffuser doesn't have this, or if you're not quite sure on how long you want it to run for, leaving a diffuser on for around an hour will usually suffice for filling a standard sized room.

You can also leave it on for longer with a slightly higher concentration if you want to fill a more open space, but remember that less is always more, so don't go too overboard!

Can I leave my diffuser on overnight?

While it's not a bad idea to leave your diffuser running for a few (supervised) hours during the day, it's generally not the best idea to keep it on overnight - especially if your model doesn't have an automatic timer setting.

This is because an overexposure to essential oils in particular can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, leaving you feeling drowsy and unwell in the morning if left diffusing throughout the whole of your sleeping period.

Understandably, many people make use of essential oils like lavender to fall asleep, and you can still do that! It might just be better practice to have your diffuser going for a few hours before bed, rather than during the night.

What happens if I add too much oil to my diffuser?

Learning how many drops of essential oil in diffuser to use is extremely important.

Overexposure to essential oils can lead to some unpleasant side effects like dizziness, red or irritated eyes, and headaches. The latter can also occur with overexposure to fragrance oils, as the scent could become too much to handle.

To avoid this, always make sure you're monitoring the amount of oil you're putting into your oil reservoir.

If you find you've added too much oil, but don't want it to go to waste, simply transfer some of the diffuser water into a glass container and dilute the mixture with more water. Then, if there's room in the reservoir, pour the contents gently back into your diffuser.

Diffuser emitting steam with person sat in the background.

Can I use any kind of oil in my diffuser?

The two most popular oil types to use in an electric diffuser are essential oils and fragrance oils.

Carrier oils, which are commonly used for diluting essential oils and making them safe for topical application, do not need to be added to your diffuser.

Some people may be keen on the idea of diffusing a carrier oil if they like the scent, but most carrier oils are effectively odourless, and will also not evaporate inside your diffuser in the same way an essential or fragrance oil will.

This means that, if you do choose to use carrier oils, you'll likely have to clean your diffuser well between uses to avoid build-up.

What's the difference between an essential oil and a fragrance oil?

Many people like to switch between using essential oils and fragrance oils in their diffusers, but how do they actually differ?

Essential oils are natural products that can carry many aromatherapy benefits for your body, mind, and soul. The majority of these benefits can be experienced through inhalation, which is why many people opt for using them in diffusers.

These benefits include, but are not limited to:

Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are synthetic products that effectively operate like perfumes. They have no real wellness benefits to them, but are mighty good at making a space smell divine.

The great thing about fragrance oils is that they can offer scents that may not necessarily occur in nature - like baked cinnamon bun or the aromas of a sunny garden. Therefore, many people like using them in their diffusers as a way to broaden the aromas in their home.

Find out more about the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils.

Can I create custom blends for my diffuser?

If you have more than one scent you'd like to use in your diffuser, you can try your hand at making your very own custom blend.

Custom blends generally involve the mixing of two or more oils to create a new, unique scent that (if you're using essential oils) can offer up greater possibilities for wellness.

You can blend scents together by identifying their notes and their purposes, or you can simply engage in some trial and error until you find an aroma your really enjoy.

If you like the sound of multiple oils, but not so much the idea of DIY blends, you can check out some pre-made blends to set you on the right track.

To learn more about how to blend oils at home, have a look through our essential oil blending guide.

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Electric diffusers are easy to operate, generally stylish, and a great way to get an amazing scent flowing through your home.

Figuring out the right amount of oil to add to your diffuser can make or break your experience, however, so it's important to always keep an eye on how much you're adding at any given time.

If you're in the market for a new electric diffuser of your own, check out our Aroma Oil Diffuser for an effective solution to using your favourite oils.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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