How Long Should You Diffuse Essential Oils?

Most people today know about essential oils but may not know how to use them. If you are new to aromatherapy, there are several topics to discuss. To start, we need to talk about when you diffuse essential oils. There is much more to the oils than just adding them to a diffuser and turning it on. Oils have different notes (which we will talk about later) that affect how they diffuse. The kind of diffuser you use and the conditions of the room you diffuse in also make a difference. All of these factors determine how long you should diffuse essential oils over the course of the day. Technically, you should not use your diffuser for more than an hour straight, but each of the factors determines how frequently you will need to diffuse.

Why Diffuse Essential Oils

In aromatherapy, diffusing essential oils is a great way to experience the benefits each of the oils has to offer. People may wonder if it is actually safe to inhale essential oils and if there are any risks that come with it. According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, inhaling is the safest and most effective method for introducing the oils to your body. By inhaling essential oils, you quickly introduce the oil to your bloodstream. This then makes it so you can experience the benefits of the oils at a faster rate.

Each essential oil comes with its own benefits, so diffusing essential oils can help you experience a variety of benefits. If you do some research, you will find a variety of “recipes” with certain benefits. For example, people will use lavender and rose oils to promote restful sleep. On the other hand, lemon and other citrus oils can help provide a mood boost. There are much more, but research will provide the other options available to you.

There are risks that come from overexposure to the oils, but we will talk about that later. As long as you do not run your diffuser at home all day, your risk for overexposure is low.

Factors That Play Into Diffusing

We briefly touched on the fact that there are several factors that will help you know how long to diffuse essential oils. Essential oils have different notes that affect how long the scent lingers, and the environment in the room will also affect it. It is crucial to make sure your oils are 100 percent pure so you can experience the full effects of the oils. We will discuss each factor in detail. This way, you can explore this method of aromatherapy and experience it in its fullness.

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The Different Notes

The first thing you need to know before you start to diffuse essential oils is that each oil has notes. There are three notes that most categorize as top, middle, and base notes. Depending on the note of the oil, the scent of it can linger in the room for minutes to days. Here is more detail on each of the notes, as well as oils that fall in each category.

  • Top notes: These kinds of oils are light and fresh, which means that they evaporate quickly. Once you diffuse these oils, the longest they will probably stick around is two hours. Some common examples of top note essential oils include eucalyptus, cinnamon, grapefruit, and lemon.
  • Middle notes: Oils that are middle notes act as a sort of middleman between the top notes and base notes. They bring the oils together in harmony and can help lengthen the time the top notes linger in the air. The middle notes typically last between two and four hours and include oils like chamomile, cypress, and juniper.
  • Base notes: These kinds of essential oils have a scent that lingers longer than all of the others. Some of them are also thicker in consistency. The base notes can last anywhere from a few hours to even days. Some examples of these oils are cedarwood, clove, frankincense, rose, and sandalwood.

If you are only using top notes in your diffuser, you will likely need to diffuse more often because the scent fades faster. On the other hand, you could diffuse base note oils and not diffuse again for a day or two. When diffusing, most people want to create synergy, a perfect balance between the notes. In order to do so, you will need to combine each of the different notes into your diffuser. Based on how many drops you place in your diffuser, these are the percentages you should shoot for:

  • 15 to 25 percent top notes
  • 30 to 40 percent middle notes
  • 45 to 55 percent base notes

You can adjust the percentages as needed, but this ratio will help you to keep the top notes around longer. This way, you can enjoy the blended scent longer.

Temperature and Airflow in the Room

The temperature and airflow in the room will also affect how long the scent of the oils hangs around. Generally, the warmer the room is, the quicker the oil will dissipate. If you remember science class back in the day, warmer temperatures cause atoms and molecules to move more rapidly. This rapid movement causes the chemical bonds to break, which causes the scent to fade. If the room is warm, you will need to prepare to add more oil to your diffuser throughout the day. The size of the room also affects the scent, which is understandable. The bigger the room, the more time it will take to fill the room with the scent of the oils. The smaller the room, the quicker the scent will fill the room.

If you have an HVAC system, this will have a similar effect. The airflow will move the air around quicker, which will cause the scent to fade faster. Technically, this is not a bad thing. It is important to diffuse essential oils in a well-ventilated room to reduce your risk of overexposure.

Essential Oil Purity

Last of all, the purity of your essential oils is crucial to the diffusing process. Some companies will blend essential oils with carrier oils, and this is not ideal for your diffuser. You will end up using more oil than necessary and potentially dirty your diffuser faster. If you have pure essential oils from wild and organic plants, you can diffuse less oil with greater results.

How Long You Should Diffuse Essential Oils

When you add all of the factors together, you will know how long to diffuse essential oils at home. Most aromatherapy experts recommend only running your diffuser for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. This gives you enough time to fill the room with the desired scent, with the longer time only needed to fill a larger room. As the scent fades, you will only want to run your diffuser two more times throughout the day. If you run your diffuser constantly, you raise your risk of overexposure. This can cause headaches, higher blood pressure, and a higher heart rate. Just because essential oils have great benefits, you can have too much of a good thing. 


To sum up all the information we have discussed, you should not diffuse essential oils for more than an hour straight. Typically, 15 to 30 minutes is plenty of time to fill the room. The scent will linger for hours, so you should only have to turn on the diffuser only a few times a day. The different notes of the oils you diffuse will affect how long the scent lingers, and the environment in your room will affect it as well. Keep all of these factors in mind as you diffuse and you will not have to worry about overexposure.

Related Article: Best Essential Oil Diffuser Options to Have in Your Home

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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