Is Baby Oil Safe in Your Reed Diffuser?

Perhaps you’ve caught a whiff of a neighbor’s reed diffuser gently scenting their home with relaxing lavender or invigorating lemongrass.

You think to yourself – what a brilliant way to fragrance my own home without the hassle of candles or risks of open flames!

But your neighbor raves about using simple baby oil as their diffuser oil, claiming it’s safe and cheap.

You hesitate, thinking back to warnings about using petroleum-based oils. And who could blame you, with all the bad press mineral oils have gotten as less eco-friendly options.

Surely a pure essential oil is the right way to go for your diffuser!

It’s hard to make sense of the different opinions and claims — we simply want the best for our homes and families. How bad is baby oil for your diffuser, really? Let’s take a closer look and separate the facts from the misconceptions.

You might be surprised once we filter out the assumptions and get to the truth.

What is Baby Oil and What is it Made of?

Before we look at using it in reed diffusers, let’s first understand what exactly baby oil is. Baby oil is a product intended for use on an infant’s skin. The main ingredient in most baby oils is mineral oil, which is a liquid petroleum byproduct.

What is Baby Oil and What is it Made of?

Mineral oil is created through the distillation of crude oil and is sometimes also called liquid paraffin. Other common names for mineral oil on ingredient labels include paraffinum liquidum and oils like paraffin oil or liquid paraffin.

In addition to mineral oil, baby oil may contain fragrances, preservatives, and potentially other ingredients like aloe vera or vitamin E. But the key thing to note is that its base is a mineral oil derived from petroleum.

Comparing Mineral Oils like Baby Oil to Vegetable Carrier Oils

Now that we know what comprises baby oil, how does it compare to other oils used in reed diffusers? The most common type of oil used in diffusers are vegetable carrier oils. These oils are pressed or extracted from the seeds, kernels, nuts or fruits of plants.

Popular options include coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, and many others. Unlike mineral oils, vegetable carrier oils are derived from plant sources and are biodegradable and renewable.

When considering baby oil versus vegetable carrier oils for reed diffusers, there are a few key differences:

  • Absorption – Mineral oils like baby oil tend to sit on top of surfaces, forming a protective barrier. Vegetable oils absorb more readily into materials.
  • Source – Mineral oils come from non-renewable petroleum sources while vegetable oils come from renewable plant sources.
  • Odor – Vegetable carrier oils have light, neutral smells from their plant origins. Mineral oils are odorless unless fragrances are added.
  • Absorption speed – Vegetable oils like grapeseed and apricot kernel absorb very quickly. Mineral oils absorb much more slowly.

So in summary, while baby oil is inexpensive and easily available, vegetable carrier oils are generally superior in qualities like absorption, sustainability, and light fragrance.

Vegetable Carrier Oils Recommended for Reed Diffusers

Based on their positive qualities, here are some of the vegetable carrier oils most recommended for use in reed diffusers:

  • Fractionated coconut oil – Has no scent and absorbs quickly. Won’t solidify like regular coconut oil. Great for mixing with essential oils.
  • Sweet almond oil – Light scent from almond origins. Very affordable oil with good absorption.
  • Jojoba oil – Easily absorbed and mixes well with essential oils. Long shelf life.
  • Grapeseed oil – Very fast absorption rate so aromas disperse rapidly. Slight grape fragrance.
  • Apricot kernel oil – Similar fast absorption to grapeseed oil. Slightly sweet, nutty scent.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Baby Oil in Diffusers

Now that we’ve compared mineral and vegetable oils, what are some pros and cons of using baby oil specifically in reed diffusers?

Benefits of Baby Oil in Diffusers

  • Inexpensive – Baby oil is very budget-friendly, especially compared to some speciality carrier oils. This can help lower the cost of making DIY diffusers.
  • Readily available – Easy to find in any pharmacy, grocery store or online retailer. Accessible.
  • Unscented – The pure mineral oil does not have an inherent fragrance, allowing the essential oil aroma to shine.

Drawbacks of Baby Oil for Diffusion

  • Absorption – The slower absorption rate means the essential oil aroma disperses less quickly.
  • Clogging – The viscosity of baby oil may lead to clogged reeds or reduced diffusion.
  • Non-renewable – Environmental concerns of using petroleum-based mineral oils.
  • Maintenance – May require more frequent changing of reeds and oil refreshment.

So while baby oil is certainly usable in reed diffusers, vegetable carrier oils tend to be preferable for performance, experience, and environment.

Reed diffuser sticks soaking in different carrier oils - some may work better than others

Is Baby Oil Safe for Reed Diffusers?

While baby oil may not be ideal compared to other oils, is it a safe choice?

In general, there are no major safety issues known with using baby oil in reed diffusers. However, some simple precautions should be taken:

  • Perform a skin patch test first to check for any allergic reactions or sensitivities to the mineral oil before widespread use.
  • Monitor the diffuser closely at first to ensure the baby oil does not clog the reeds and inhibit diffusion.
  • Be prepared to change reeds more frequently if they become blocked by thick oil.
  • Use an adequate number of reeds (8-10) for the diffuser to help ensure good airflow.
  • Consider adding a few drops of a fast-absorbing oil like grapeseed or apricot kernel to improve diffusion.

As long as you follow basic usage and maintenance guidelines, baby oil can be used safely in a reed diffuser. But other oils are likely to create a better experience.

Tips for Safe Usage of Baby Oil in Diffusers

If you do choose to use baby oil in your reed diffuser, here are some tips for safe, effective usage:

  • Always do a patch test on your skin first before full use.
  • Check that the baby oil is pure mineral oil and unscented for best results.
  • Use reeds made with natural materials like bamboo rather than plastics.
  • Turn reeds frequently to avoid clogs by thick oil.
  • Add 5-10 drops of essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus for scent.
  • Dilute the baby oil with a small amount of lighter carrier oil to improve flow.
  • Clean the diffuser vessel thoroughly between oil changes to prevent buildup.
  • Add more reed sticks than a typical recipe to improve diffusion surface area.
  • Keep diffuser out of direct sunlight and high heat to avoid spoilage of oils.
Following proper usage and care tips allows baby oil to be used safely


Baby oil is commonly considered as an inexpensive carrier oil option for handmade reed diffusers. While it can be safely used by following certain guidelines, vegetable carrier oils tend to be a better choice for performance, experience, and environment.

Oils like fractionated coconut, sweet almond, and apricot kernel that absorb quickly are recommended over baby oil if possible. But if using mineral oil, be sure to do a skin test first, watch for clogs, turn reeds frequently, and dilute with small amounts of lighter oils. With proper precautions, baby oil can create an economical homemade diffuser.

However for the optimal reed diffuser experience, high quality vegetable carrier oils are the best choice for quickly dispersing those soothing, fragrant essential oil aromas throughout your home.