Ancient cultures knew the secrets of the healing and relaxing properties of certain plants and herbs. The Egyptians commonly used extracts of plant oils, and cultures from Asia to North Africa considered them to be an important component of therapy and healing. We can experience many of the same benefits today by using an aromatherapy diffuser.
The term “aromatherapy” is a relatively new expression. Because many people often associate fragrance with positive memories, inhaling the scented molecules of essential oils can sometimes turn a bleak mood into a calmer and more positive frame of mind. Other plant oils can be directly therapeutic, such as the pungent odor of eucalyptus.
The modern aroma-based industry is now a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Included are scented candles, fragrance-infused paper products, creams, novelties, soaps and air fresheners. While those products are useful, the real emphasis for many people is on essential oils or herbal extracts. These concentrates can fill a room with delightful and relaxing herbal fragrance, but to do so requires a method of diffusion.
Beginners may wish to start with a simple do-it-yourself method. Sprinkle a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto a tissue. Place it in an area with adequate circulation, and sit back and relax. This system can be used practically anywhere, but it is limited, and will spread only a minimal amount of your favorite plant fragrance.
Other easy diffusion methods include steam and using a single candle. To use the steam method, simply boil about two cups of water, pour it into a bowl, and add up to ten drops or less of your favorite oil. This will quickly spread the fragrance to all parts of the room. Stand-alone candles should be burnt about five minutes, then extinguished. Add some oil to the wax and relight the candle, taking care not to ignite the flammable oils.
Steam and flame can, however, alter or change certain beneficial qualities contained in some oils, and are less efficient than some other devices. The lamp ring is a favorite choice for many. It consists of an inexpensive terracotta ring designed to fit over and around a light bulb, with a built in groove to hold the oil. The indirect heat from the bulb spreads the scent of the oil without any danger from real flames.
A natural extension of this method is the clay pot, usually a small terracotta container that can be closed with a cork. When opened, the fragrance spreads naturally. Candle diffusers go one step further, utilizing small tea-candles to heat a metal tray holding the oils. They are excellent for confined areas, and the effect is generally light. Electric heat and fans are another option, both requiring a power source. Electric heat devices may fill a larger room with fragrance, and last longer.
At the top of the list are the nebulizers. These devices work in a way similar to a perfume atomizer. Measuring about 6″ X 8″ X 4″, they have a small motor in the base, and a custom blown glass receptacle on top where the oil is heated and dispersed. A nebulizer is capable of dividing the oil into separate molecules before it is dispersed, making these devices popular with aromatherapists. Ultimately, however, the choice depends on individual situations. Using an aromatherapy diffuser of any design will help to spread an atmosphere of serenity and positive feelings throughout any home.