Water-Based Air Purifier Vs. Oil Diffuser Which is Better?


So, you’ve been researching stuff about air purifiers and oil diffusers and you probably found your way to something called a water-based air purifier.

Or maybe you found water-based air purifiers first and they got you to looking at oil diffusers and air purifiers.

Regardless of how you stumbled across water-based air purifiers and oil diffusers, you’re probably wondering which is better.

Water-based air purifiers, like diffusers, can diffuse essential oils and other aromatic oils into the air around them. Unlike oil diffusers, water-based air purifiers can also clean the air in the room around them.

Now, with that said, I’m sure you’re still wondering which machine is better and which is more worth buying.

However, I can’t tell you that just yet–first I have to tell you a (short) smidge about what oil diffusers and water-based air purifiers are, just in case there are some uninitiated readers here.

What is a Water-Based Air Purifier?

Water-based air purifiers are a type of air purifier that uses water as its main filter instead of other filter types, like activated carbon and HEPA.

Air is cleansed of larger particles that become waterlogged as they pass through the splashing water within the water-based air purifier’s basin. The now-cleaned air is then shot out of the air purifier while the dirtier air that’s still in the room is pulled in.

Something I must mention is that water-based air purifiers go by several different names, and you’ll see a lot of them as you’re shopping around. These names include water-based air cleaner, water air purifier, air revitalizer, water-based air revitalizer, and a few other iterations of the same sort of words. There isn’t really an industry norm for the name of these just yet.

If you’d like to read up some more on what water-based air purifiers are, check out this article: What is a Water Air Purifier? | The Benefits and Drawbacks of Water-Based Air Purifiers Compared to Traditional Air Purifiers. And, if you’d like to do even more reading, check out this piece too: What is a Water Based Air Purifier? | The Pros & Cons of Water Air Revitalizers. But that’s as much as I’m diving into this in this post, so onto oil diffusers!

What is an Oil Diffuser?

Oil diffusers, also called aromatherapy diffusers, are devices that disperse essential oils and other aromatic oils into the air around them. Most oil diffusers work by either utilizing ultrasonic vibrations or heat, much like humidifiers do.

Some diffusers require that you add water to them, but not all do. Some use oil-infused wax pellets and blocks, some just use pure essential oils. There are a lot of variations to oil diffusers, but that’s not the main point of this post, so I’ll move on.

Comparison Between Water Air Purifiers and Oil Diffusers

Water-based air revitalizers and oil diffusers have a good amount of things in common, but they have distinct differences as well. I know that I’ve already written a lot in this post as well, so I’ll do my best to keep things short here by comparing air revitalizers and oil diffusers in the table below.

CharacteristicsWater-Based Air PurifierEssential Oil Diffuser
Diffuses essential oils and aromatic oilsYesYes
Adds humidity to the airYes, a small amountYes, a small amount
Cleans the airYesNo
Price point$25-60$15-60
Table comparing water-based air purifiers and oil diffusers

As you can see in the above table, water-based air purifiers and oil diffusers do a lot of the same things, but the key difference between them is that oil diffusers can’t clean the air.

Another difference that you will undoubtedly see is that you can get some oil diffusers for pretty cheap too, which is pretty neat! I’ve never bought one that was that cheap, but I might have to for this blog since they look cool!

However, once you look over the few options of essential oil diffusers that are that cheap, you’ll see that most of them are between 25 and 60 dollars, which is right in line with water-based air purifiers. I find that a little strange and a little neat too–it’s weird to think that you can get cleaner air in addition to everything an oil diffuser can do for a similar price.

Besides those differences, oil diffusers and water air revitalizers are much the same. They both add a little bit of humidity to the air. They both diffuse oils and aromas. They both look cool. (Yeah, that last one wasn’t on the above table, but I will admit that I like the look of both units.)

Now that we know the similarities and differences, I’m sure you’re wondering which unit is better. Read on and you’ll see my take.

What’s Better, Oil Diffuser or Water-Based Air Purifier?

Before I dive into answering this, let me just say that you are reading this on a website devoted to air purifiers and not just oil diffusers, so I might be a little jaded.

However, I want to also point out that oil diffusers were around when I started this blog and I could have made one on diffusers instead of air purifiers, but I ended up choosing air purifiers for several reasons. One such reason was that air purifiers clean the air, rather than just adding yet another thing into the air.

So, now that I’ve said all of that, I’ll go out and say that I find that water-based air purifiers are better than oil diffusers.

This all boils down to the fact that water-based air purifiers actually clean the air. Because water-based air purifiers do everything that an oil diffuser can plus a little more that makes the selling point of an oil diffuser a little less appealing.

Clean air, however, is a big selling point and can do a lot to make the air in your home feel much more refreshing.

Since water-based air purifiers and oil diffusers have comparable costs, it might be best if you opt for a water-based air purifier that cleans the air while still diffusing the oils you desire. The opportunity to remove dust and other allergens from the air for similar prices is valuable.

That being said, the cheapest oil diffusers are indeed a chunk cheaper than water-based air purifiers, so, if you can’t afford a few more dollars, then I can’t force you to choose one over the other.

If the cheapest oil diffusers out there are of interest to you, here’s a link to one of the best-rated cheap ones on Amazon. And, if that one isn’t of interest to you, here’s another link to another cheap one on Amazon.

But, if I’ve convinced you that water-based air purifiers are better, then please be sure to check out my list of top picks for water air purifiers here. I’ve personally bought these, and own several of the US JACLEAN one, which has proven to be my favorite. (It’s a great price, especially for its capabilities.)

With that all said, thank you for your time. For those of you who make a purchase, thank you for your support as well, it helps to keep this blog going!

If you’d like to continue reading up on water-based air purifiers, here are three of my other articles on them.

What Does a Water Air Purifier Do? | The Surprising Benefits of Using Water as an Air Filter

How Well do Water-Based Air Purifiers Work?

What is a Water Air Purifier? | The Benefits and Drawbacks of Water-Based Air Purifiers Compared to Traditional Air Purifiers

Jonathon Silva

Jonathan Silva is our longtime Air Purifier Essentials author. He has been writing on air purification technologies for his entire professional career.

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