The options are overwhelming when you first dive into essential oils. Do you want a diffuser? Is this vial of oil safe to put on your skin—or even consume?
One option that’s gaining popularity right now is using essential oil inhalers. Manufacturers claim they give you private access to essential oils at a moment’s notice without exposing other people to the scent.
Is this the right route for you? Let’s look closer at what essential oil inhalers offer so you can decide whether to try one. Here’s what we’ll be covering in this post (click on the links to jump to a specific section):
- What are Essential Oils?
- The Top 6 Benefits of Essential Oils
- What are Essential Oil Inhalers?
- Essential Oil Inhalers vs Diffusors
- How to Use an Essential Oil Inhaler Effectively
- Best Essential Oil Inhaler Products on The Market in 2023
What are Essential Oils?
All essential oils come from plants. These natural compounds capture the plant’s scent and can be extracted through techniques like cold pressing or steam distillation. The oils serve various purposes for plants, from rendering them bitter to keep insects away to increasing their resilience to pathogens.
Every essential oil has unique aromatic properties that give it distinctive characteristics. For example, citrus scents may wake you up and boost your mood, while cedarwood, frankincense, and other heavier scents have grounding effects that may relax you.
Top 6 Benefits of Essential Oils
While essential oils are great for plants, they offer real value for humans as well. Here’s a closer look at their benefits.
Ease Insomnia: Aromatherapy is a time-tested strategy to help you wind down at night and improve overall sleep quality. Many essential oils, such as lavender, work to help you fall asleep and wake up feeling more rested.
Improve Focus and Prevent Fatigue: If you struggle to stay on track at work, essential oils may help you focus your mind. Research shows that peppermint oil may prevent fatigue and improve athletic performance, while spearmint shows promise for improving learning retention.
Influences Moods and Memories: Scents are intimately connected to our memories. Everything you breathe in enters your nasal cavity, where the neurons in the olfactory bulb take notice and process the signals. From there, these signals travel to the brain’s limbic region, which deals with emotions, memory and your overall mood.
Reduce Inflammation and Irritation: As essential oils are absorbed into your bloodstream, they have powerful potential to reduce symptoms of inflammation like joint pain and muscle stiffness. A 2010 study shows that some oils, such as thyme, bergamot, and eucalyptus, can reduce inflammation enzymes in your body by over 25%.
Improves Sense of Smell: Your ability to smell gets compromised when you’re dealing with a sinus infection or other forms of nasal congestion. Inhaling essential oils several times a day works as olfactory training to restore your senses faster.
- Quick Headache Relief: If your head is pounding, inhaling essential oils may help it ease up. Breathing in peppermint, rosemary, or lavender (among others) can help you relax and relieve the sense of tightness associated with tension headaches.
On their own, essential oils are highly potent. They are greaseless, and many will evaporate quickly when exposed to air.
This can make them difficult to handle, so it’s common to combine them with other compounds to stabilize them and make them easier to enjoy. For example, you might blend them with an unscented carrier oil for topical use or add a few drops to an essential oil diffuser to fill a room with fragrance.
But for those looking for an ultra-portable, personalized form of essential oils, few options can beat using an essential oil inhaler.
What are Essential Oil Inhalers?
One of the safest, most effective ways to experience the benefits of essential oils is to breathe them in through an essential oil inhaler.
Sometimes called aromasticks, essential oil inhalers let you take in these aromatic compounds on the go. Most contain a plastic or aluminum tube—similar to chapstick—that encases a cotton wick doused in pure essential oils. They offer a cost-effective way to benefit from essential oils without drawing attention to yourself or bothering others with the aroma.
When you breathe in essential oils, these aromatic compounds go down your trachea into the smaller branches of your airways known as bronchioles. From there, they reach the microscopic alveoli that are responsible for transporting small molecules (such as essential oil compounds) into your bloodstream.
The result is an efficient transfer system where you can feel the oil's effects far faster than ingesting it or putting it on your skin.
Essential Oil Inhalers vs. Diffusers
Diffusers differ from essential oil inhalers in both function and benefits. To use a diffuser, you add several drops of oil to an inner chamber of water and turn it on to produce scented steam that fills a small room.
While diffusers work well to create a gentle ambiance in a room, they dilute the essential oil, so you’re less likely to experience specific health benefits from inhaling them. They also expose everyone within your space to the oils, which can be a problem if you’re around people with smell sensitivities.
An inhaler, in contrast, gives you a personalized, concentrated dose of essential oils for a sharper, stronger effect. Some people even find that these all-natural inhalers can help them overcome the urge to smoke by curbing the hand-to-mouth habit of handling cigarettes.
Why go through the trouble of using an inhaler instead of carrying around a bottle of essential oils? To start, vials of essential oils tend not to spill when not stored upright. That’s bad news for your pocket or purse. Second, it’s best to minimize the times you expose pure essential oils to air, as they will evaporate or oxidize and spoil.
Essential oil inhalers use smaller amounts of oil and have more secure screw lids, so there’s less risk of spillage or spoilage.
How to Use an Essential Oil Inhaler Effectively
These devices couldn’t be easier to use. Simply remove the cap, place the wick of the inhaler under your nose, and inhale deeply. Some people prefer to center it under one nostril at a time while closing the other with their fingers. Make sure you twist the cap back tightly when done to prevent the wick from drying out.
Essential oil inhalers are entirely safe for daily use, so long as you don’t have any sensitivities to the specific scent you’re using. For instance, some people might find a minty menthol scent overpowering or feel that it burns their nose.
The primary appeal of essential oil inhalers is their portability. Keep yours in your purse, pocket, nightstand, car glove box, or anywhere else that keeps it within reach.
The Best Essential Oil Inhalers on The Market in 2021
Interested in trying an essential oil inhaler yourself? Here are three brands that top the list on quality and performance.
These all-natural essential oil inhalers contain custom blends of therapeutic-grade essential oils formulated to optimize your day—whether you’re looking to boost your focus with a refreshing mint scent or bask in fragrances of the tropics for a better mood. You can also purchase variety packs for an inhaler to fit every situation.
FUM essential oil inhalers are handcrafted from wood and work with pre-infused cores in various scents. Though they offer the chance to purchase blank cores so you can customize your scents, keep in mind that you’ll need to replace the infused core every two to three days because the fragrance will dissipate naturally.
3. Plant Therapy
This essential oil brand sells a three-pack of durable aromatherapy inhalers made from aluminum. They come unscented, which means you’ll need to buy your own essential oils to keep them filled.