Aerial dispersion has been with us in many forms for centuries – the very word perfume is derived from “per fumare” – through smoke. Incense has been burned in churches, at Roman feasts, sweet herbs have been burned in mediaeval halls and even on your barbeque
A few drops of essential oil on a ceramic chip will scent the room to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the quality of the essential oil. You can blend the essential oils to give a woody or floral aroma etc. Even a few drops of essential oil placed on cotton wool placed behind a radiator can have a mood enhancing or psycho therapeutic effect.
More aesthetically pleasing are the ceramic burners, or perhaps burners made of metal and glass. All have the same basic principle whereby a bowl or dish is heated by a candle and a few drops of oil appropriate to the requirement or condition are sprinkled on the surface. They can make delightful and sensual additions to a room setting as well as providing a therapeutic effect.
Beware of common pitfalls – many burners are cheap and they are too small, so that the essential oils are too near to the burner. You don’t want a bowl that is too thin and it is worth the extra money to get something that works properly. If it boils the water then it’s probably not such a good idea. Some of the more expensive designs, generally taller, allow for a large quantity of water that doesn’t dry out too quickly and doesn’t overheat the water so that you get a much better or therapeutic effect, and depending upon the oil, doesn’t leave that unpleasant sticky residue.
Such taller burners, with larger bowls are also useful for heating and releasing the vapours from incense, whether that be Frankincense and Myrrh or a readymade blend. This can also look visually attractive if mixed with flower petals or other herbs. The gentle heat slowly releases into the atmosphere essential oils which are laden with the dried herbs, gums and resins
A variety of ceramic bowls with electrical heaters are available and if purchasing these, make sure that you buy something with the gentlest heat, using the principles described above for the candle burner.
Most electrical apparatus concentrate on an evaporator pad, heated or not and a fan that drives the aroma into the atmosphere. These come in a range from home models to industrial models. These can be quite successful but often the pads have to be laced with a synthetic to heighten the odour impact. However, all the above relies either upon heat or upon local evaporation. Lighter molecules are released faster than heavier molecules and you might end up with a burnt residue. The advantage of these forms of dispersion is that they are silent.
Probably the best piece of apparatus is the diffuser. These come in various shapes and sizes, but basically consist of an air pump and nebuliser. Such dispersion systems are as near to nature as is practical, as they release the essential oils by a cold dispersion, releasing micro droplets. In a world of aerial pollution – dust, dirt, fumes, even airborne disease, bacteria or germs - fragrant air lets you enjoy the benefits of healthful air laden with micro droplets of nature’s beneficial essential oils. This is aerial aromatherapy in its truest and simplest form. Nebulising diffusers ionise these micro droplets, which stay suspended in the air for several hours. They revitalise the air and depending upon the essential oil, may have an antiseptic and deodorising action. Certainly the air feels fresher, more pure or more heady according to the choice of essential oil made. Such diffusers refresh the air, change the air and charge the air in minutes. If you look at the nebulising glass part of the system, you can see Venturi tubes and above these a baffle, against which the essential oil “breaks” into the finest mist of micro droplets. There is no need, and it is not recommended, to run nebulisers continually except in very airy or open conditions - they are best used in 15 minute bursts at say, two hour intervals. You will quickly attune to the aroma and so it will appear to fade - this is nothing to do with effect. Nebulising diffusing systems are not suitable for blends that incorporate vegetable oils. However, Floral Waters can be used in them.
Nebulising diffusers are the best systems for public or private places where air treatment is needed. They are found in gyms and fitness centres as well as in offices, schools, treatment and waiting rooms. In the work place they are often found in reception areas or where smoking causes problems. Electric pollution is a complaint increasingly heard from VDU users and an aromatic change can make all the difference. Caution should be exercised in their use as this system as overuse can lead to irritation. There is always a small hum from the pumps which are quite powerful and because the glass chambers are built to nebulise, there will also be a slight sound. If working professionally, you should put a free standing nebuliser some distance from the air pump. In salons or clinics the pump is often concealed beneath the counter or desk where it is not heard, an air line being taken to a work surface where the nebuliser is free standing.
Sometimes we overlook the importance of breathing and this is worth remembering when we concentrate upon some physical applications of essential oils. Mostly we talk about essential oils passing through the skin, in massage or bathing, but breathing them in is part of everyday life, whether we realise it or not.
Trained therapists should concentrate on the positive aspects and healing benefits of aerial dispersion which is not far away from how nature releases its essential oils.