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Essential Oils Blog

Diffusing at Parties: Is It Safe to Diffuse in Public?

We love essential oils, you love essential oils, everybody else should love essential oils (I mean, right?)….but sometimes it can be easy to get carried away. With all of the holiday gatherings coming up, we here at Plant Therapy want to send out a friendly safe-usage reminder: Don’t diffuse in public!

When you diffuse in public, unpredictable reactions may occur. Why is this? Well, everyone has to breathe. And just because you respond well to an essential oil diffused into the air, doesn’t mean everyone else will, too. Babies, pregnant or nursing women, pets, and individuals on certain medications or who have medical conditions can be at risk of adverse reactions to what’s being publicly diffused.

Some people have specific allergies to certain chemical components in essential oils as well! Inhaling specific oils can make them feel nauseous, light-headed, irritable – honestly, the list of symptoms could go on and on.

You just don’t know how everyone will respond, so why take the risk? It’s always best to err on the side of caution so that you don’t unintentionally harm your party guests.

But don’t worry!

We know you still want to use your oils, especially with the overwhelming demands this season can bring. Personal aromatherapy inhalers are ideal for public situations, especially since you can use whatever oil or blend is personally best for you. Aromatherapy diffuser lockets are also a nice option to enjoy your favorite oils whenever you want!

Thank you to all of our amazing customers making safe and conscientious essential oil choices!

109 thoughts on “Diffusing at Parties: Is It Safe to Diffuse in Public?”

    1. That’s a fantastic way to keep your favorite oils close by; aromatherapy jewelry gives off that lovely scent, but is often even less intrusive than a person’s perfume spray. Thanks for sharing, Lindsay!

  1. Thank you for posting this. Far too many diffuse oils that aren’t safe for kids, but they don’t realize. It’s best to not do it at all around people you don’t know or aren’t sure of safety.

    1. Lauren, you can think of diffuser necklaces that don’t close as wearing something like a perfume. If your perfume is too strong, it can irritate the senses of some people. The same should be considered when using a diffuser necklace. You should still be able to get a whiff of what’s added to your necklace, but the aroma shouldn’t be overwhelming. Use your best judgement 🙂

      1. This is good to know about diffusing in public. I wouldn’t have diffused something strong, but something like Organic Orange Sweet. I’ll refrain from diffusing any in public, just in case.
        It’s good to know about the diffuser necklaces, bracelets and personal inhalers. I wish most people knew about them for their own health and the good of others. Perfumes really mess with my sinuses!

  2. Learned this the hard way when friends of ours, the wife of whom was going through chemo, came over. Luckily turning of a diffuser is simple and the scent went away pretty quickly! (Unlike me and scented wax products I can smell for weeks )

  3. Great information. We love our oils and want to share with everyone but have to remember they aren’t just good smelling oils, they can cause issues for some people!!

  4. Thanks for sharing! Diffusers come with some boundaries. I recently bought one and only used it once before I learned that it isn’t a great idea to diffuse around pets. Now I’m unsure which oils are safe to use with my cats. Different sources have differing opinions on which oils are safe. Could this possibly be a topic for the future? Or maybe a reference to a trusted source that has that information?

    1. Shelby, we currently have Certified Aromatherapists on staff who are working hard to get their certification on animals and aromatherapy. We hope to be able to provide our customers with the information they want regarding pets and EOs. In the meantime, you can check out the article I have linked below, written by the amazing Kelly Holland Azzaro, a registered aromatherapist/certified clinical aromatherapy practitioner/licensed massage therapist:
      https://naha.org/assets/uploads/Animal_Aromatherapy_Safety_NAHA.pdf
      Hope this helps!

      1. You guys are awesome! I really appreciate that you all are working so hard to supply your customers safe information! Thanks for all you do!

      2. As a cat owner, I’m also curious about this subject, so I’m pleased to hear you’re working toward being able to give us information on that.

    2. I also just adopted a stray and am very fond of diffusing. I am still trying to figure out how to do it safely. I would hate to exclude her from a room just bc I wanted to diffuse. 🙁

    3. Look up Melissa Shelton, a veterinarian and expert with essential oils & pets for several years. I’ve trusted her for years with my rescue cats!

  5. Always are on the side of caution, I believe. My epileptic son reacts very negatively to rosemary EO, so I appreciate when people respect my request that they don’t diffuse anything with him around

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Sandy. It’s just impossible to know how each individual will react, but it’s great that you are able to tell people not to diffuse around your son. 🙂

  6. YES!! I wish more people would read these, especially those who shop from other EO companies! I have 3 little kids, and I can’t tell you how many times we go to friends’ houses and they’re diffusing a well-known blend with spicy oils that is not safe for young children. Or they send their kids on the bus with enough straight drops of EOs on their skin to scent the whole bus. Ugh.

  7. I use my oils on my chest…for breathing..and i am always worried about other around me as i get comments. most say they love the smell but i feel uncomfortable that someone might get upset. I am very sensitive to other perfumes.

    1. Barb, the best way to ensure the people around you are not bothered by the aroma you have on is to just ask them. If you find that it is uncomfortable for a person, or if you are just a bit self conscious about it, you can always use an aromatherapy locket (which gives off a very subtle scent), or carry a personal inhaler with that blend so you can breathe it in as often as you need.

  8. Excellent post with good timing. People need to be reminded that not everyone will tolerate any and/or all oils well.

  9. a friend of mine suffers from central sensitization syndrome and keeps a small bag of coffee beans with her at all times. A personal inhaler of sorts to act as a counterbalance for the intrusion of diffused oils and perfumes, etc. she encounters every day.

    1. Very true, Greg! For a lot of us who use essential oils regularly, it’s easy to forget that many other people are unfamiliar with them and it can quickly overwhelm their senses!

    1. That’s great, Kathy! They are such a simple and elegant way to keep your favorite aromas close to you, but not intrude on anyone else 🙂

  10. I wish everyone who diffuses in public would read this blog post. It’s never a good idea to subject others to potentially harmful substances. Now if we could just get rid of the plug-ins and excessive amounts of perfume etc… wishful thinking I know 🙂

  11. Thank you for the link to the article about using oils with pets! I have a beloved 18 year old cat, and I am no longer going to diffuse in the room where he spends his time. Oddly enough, I have created some oil blends to use on my hands and forearms, and, as soon as I apply them, he comes over and wants to lick my hands! It took a couple of times for me to realize what was causing his behavior. Now, I wait until I am going to work or to bed to apply them. Live and learn!

  12. I had been thinking about this. I wanted to get a diffuser for my office, but I didn’t want to bother the others around me. Inhalers and lcokets sound like a doable alternative. Definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

  13. Thank you for the reminder. I have an adult daughter who gets really bad headaches and asthma episodes with the “wrong” oils. I’m super careful about diffusing when she is visiting. I hate it for her when she is forced to breathe them in a public place.

  14. I have a lot of people coming over for the holidays & it’s guaranteed that at least some will be sick. I’m the only “non-healthy” person and the family members don’t have allergies. Do you see any reason why I can’t diffuse a holiday/I don’t want to sick blend?

    1. Nicole, this sounds like a perfect situation to use a personal aromatherapy inhaler! That way you can benefit from your I-don’t-want-to-get-sick blend without unintentionally affecting someone else who may not enjoy what is being diffused. You may also want to make an all-purpose cleaner using essential oils to help keep surface areas clean when there are a lot of people over.

  15. Thanks for the reminder! I have lately gotten into making wax melts with the oils, Since it’s considered passive diffusion what’s the thought on melting them when others are over?

    1. Liz, you are right that wax melts are passive diffusion and are generally more tolerated since the aroma is not as intense as diffusion. However, you’ll have to use your best judgement if it is right for your particular situation and the guests you have over 🙂

  16. Wouldn’t a pre-diluted roll on put on the wrists also be another way to keep germs away? I’m new to essential oils and only bought the roll ones since I didnt know how to mix or use any of them. But I thought the germ fighter roll on as well as the immune therapy roll on could be used that way.

    1. Lois, a pre-diluted roll on is a great way to keep germs away, absolutely! Germ Fighter and Immune Aid are great to put on the wrists for some extra protection 🙂

  17. Agreed. It always bothers me when I hear someone asking about teachers diffusing in the classroom. They are taking a big risk. I pack my daughter an inhaler for headaches.

  18. Good idea, not to diffuse in public. Plus you never know if someone could be allergic to one of the oils. I would feel terrible if I did something that caused someone to have an allergic reaction.

  19. As much as I want to diffuse when guests come over, I’ve decided to just use roll-ons for myself and kids beforehand to ward off unwanted germs. Then I diffuse when everyone leaves to clear the air of possible shared germs.

  20. Great post! Whenever in doubt – inhale! One never knows if others have allergies to what they would be diffusing, thus making inhalers are more safe option.

  21. I am glad you said this. Some of my family members are obsessed with pine scented oils especially at Christmas, but I am allergic to pine which makes it difficult to be around them. I will suggest some of these to them this holiday season.

  22. I love my personal diffuser and my necklace diffuser. Perfect for work since I have an open cubicle. Keeps my calm during stressful days!

  23. This is a perfect blog post for the upcoming holiday season! I love to encourage people to explore EO’s, but this is not the way to win the whole room over at one time 😉 Thank you so much for your continued support to your customers and for the incredible safety teaching you bless us with!

  24. Thanks for the heads up! I’m still pretty new to oils and I don’t think it would even have occurred to me. You guys are always on the ball! Thanks for looking out for everyone!

  25. This is such an important reminder! My coworker has migraine headaches, so I am careful about how I use EOs around her.

    1. Exactly! Sometimes it’s just a good idea to send out a friendly reminder about diffusing, especially with so many holiday events coming up!

  26. I am one who reacts to everything so I have had a few stern conversations with people at my office about diffusing oils into the air. Pine will send me to the ER with anaphylaxis. I’ve had “oil guru’s” tell me where is no way to be allergic to true essential oils yet my allergy tests prove differently.
    What are your thoughts?

    1. Bex, I am so sorry you have an allergy to Pine. Clearly, there is a chemical constituent within the Pine Essential Oil that triggers a negative reaction from you. There are many people who suffer from allergies to certain components in essential oils. Linalool, for example, is a chemical constituent found in many essential oils (think: Lavender, Coriander Seed, and Neroli, just to name a few), that can cause some people to feel nauseous, dizzy, light-headed, or other symptoms. I’m sorry to hear that your coworkers are not being considerate with their diffusing. I’ve added a link to a great article by one of the world’s foremost leaders in essential oil safety, Robert Tisserand, to help arm you with more knowledge on this matter. I also like how this article directly addresses the idea that “true essential oils can’t cause an allergic reaction.” I hope this helps! https://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/irritation-allergic-reactions/

      Another great article, filled with cited studies on the matter: http://info.achs.edu/blog/debunking-dangerous-myths-about-essential-oils

  27. I love my diffuser locket for this very reason. I can still smell and benefit from my oils but they don’t bother anyone around me. Just a quick whiff of the locket and I’m good to go.

  28. Love my jewelry! With all the germs flying around this time of year, I wear a locket daily. Germ Fighter is my signature scent right now. 😉

  29. I just discovered my boys’ school has teachers and administrative personnel who diffuse all the time. Now to figure out how to tactfully address it with upper management in the administration. Thanks for sharing good information, as always!

    1. Kathy, before I became a Certified Aromatherapist I worked for years in my local school district. I have seen a lot of diffusion done in many different schools, but I think it’s often due to teachers and administrators being unaware of the safety risks. Maybe a simple email to your child’s teacher with a link to this article or this article (https://blog.planttherapy.com/blog/2016/01/07/classroom-diffusing/) may help them get the conversation going at school. 🙂

  30. Yes! We usually have babies/little children at our gatherings so unless I’m diffusing lavender (which, let’s be honest that’s not exactly a “party” scent haha) I will diffuse before the party and shut it off before guests come.

  31. Great article and a good reminder. I recently learned some things about clove oil, which i love. I didn’t realize that it could be dangerous to use around people who take blood thinners. Since learning that I’ve seriously considered getting personal inhalers.

    1. That’s great to hear, Carolina! Personal aromatherapy inhalers are really just the best way to enjoy your favorite oils without disturbing anyone else 🙂

  32. i was just about to get a nebulizing diffuser for my new office. now i am having second thoughts after reading this article. btw will plant therapy be coming out with a nebulizing diffuser by any chance?

    1. We would recommend refraining from using a nebulizing diffuser in the office. These diffusers (while ABSOLUTELY amazing!!) give off a very direct, undiluted, pure aroma, which is much stronger than when you use an ultrasonic diffuser. As far as carrying nebulizing diffusers in the future, feel free to contact our Customer Service Team at [email protected] 🙂

  33. Great reminder! It’s also just good manners to consider your guests before subjecting them unknowingly to something that may make them uncomfortable. Thanks!!

  34. Many yoga studios diffuse in class, but typically they will label the class as Aroma Flow and they will announce each week prior to class which oils they will be diffusing. At least that way, students know in advance if they will be going to a class with diffusion, and they can choose a different class if they aren’t comfortable with oils. Other options I have seen used are spritzing a room spray before class and giving students the options of having their temples massaged gently with lavender in a carrier oil during meditation. I think making sure people have choice is important, and that you don’t inadvertently expose someone to something that they may not enjoy or may actually be a physical irritant for them. I wish more people would be respectful of this when using chemical “air fresheners” in bathrooms (which cause me breathing problems) or strong perfumes!

  35. Good advice. I’ve learned that even I have my own limits in my own home. Anything with Bergamot in the diffuser smells like Raid Ant Spray to me. It’s amazing how the diffuser can be so subtle, but powerful at the same time. Also, I have cats but they don’t even seem to notice or be bothered by anything I diffuse. I just keep oils themselves away from the cats.

  36. Hi. I agree re some people reacting poorly to specific EO. My best friend cannot bear the cinnamon I used to diffuse in the guest bathroom, but she does fine with most EO. I have found lemon, orange, peppermint and lavender to be tolerable to most people, especially if I add a touch of vanilla EO. God bless!

    1. That’s what I’m thinking. Too many times to count I’ve gone to gatherings where they burn scented candle and/or have plugins that send me into histamine overload. Have never had a problem with EOs. I wish others would be sensitive to others with artificial scents like EO users are with EOs.

  37. I love EOs, but hate it when people diffuse where I work. Some people just don’t understand how harmful it can be to others.

  38. I love this blog! I love EO’s but instantly feel uneasy when I walk in somewhere that is diffusing oils unless I know them and what they are diffusing! Thanks for spreading more awareness PT! You guys rock!

  39. I found this article so interesting and informative. I have a special needs son, so try to be conscious of taking others’ needs into account when they are in my home. This is just another example…I’ll definitely be asking about diffusing before leaving it on when guests are over.

  40. i have a couple of people who diffuse at work. while I don’t mind (and actually secretly love it!), i just don’t think that’s the greatest etiquette…

  41. This is a great reminder. Aromatherapy jewelry is the perfect solution. I have some PT necklaces as well as some lava bead bracelets.

  42. I love my diffusers necklace and bracelet and personal inhalers for when I can’t diffuse around other people! I would love to find a good car diffuser sometime so I can enjoy my oils while I travel.

  43. Thanks for sharing this. I knew I needed to be careful around children, but I didn’t think of adults with health conditions or allergies. I have never tried a diffuser necklace. I am excited to give them a try

  44. This is so timely. I just saw on FB that there’s a school in Peoria, IL that is going to diffuse in public. It’s so dangerous! I can’t believe they’re doing this!

  45. Great advice! You really don’t know what could bother someone else (or they just hate the smell) I’m sharing this for some friends who use *another oil company* and aren’t always as thoughtful as PT users 😀

  46. Thanks for this post…I hadn’t really thought about this, and have diffused with guests over! I’ll be more conscientious now

  47. I’m glad I found this. I’ve been wondering how to handle company coming in. Makes me sad not to be able to share the scents.

  48. good thing i have had encountered this blog. i was thinking of diffusing during the holiday gatherings so as to share my love of my oils with my friends and relatives.

  49. I learned the hard way that not all guests that come into our home can tolerate EOs very well. That was before Plant Therapy. I now am much better educated because of your blog posts like this! I will be making inhalers for myself that I can use when the moment strikes.

  50. Such a great topic for this time of the year. I will be wearing my oils as a way to stay calm in some overwhelming social situations!

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