What Is the Difference Between a Nebulizer & Atomizer?

Nebulizers are essentially electric atomizers, as both convert liquid chemicals into a fine mist. However, there are differences between the two. The nebulizer takes time to dispense, while the atomizer is instant 1. The atomizer works in controlled, metered doses, while the nebulizer does not; and the atomizer has many more uses than the nebulizer. For example, the atomizer can be used in spray bottles for cleaning supplies and in spray perfumes. You can even find atomizers as cooking sprays.

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A nebulizer is a small electronic air compressor that takes a liquid and turns it into a mist that is then sent up a long tube into a face mask. The receiver of the mist inhales the fog-like substance into his lungs. The breathing session, the time it takes to inhale all of the liquid-to-mist, can take upwards of 10 minutes to complete.

Uses of a Nebulizer

The main use of nebulizers is to deliver inhalant medication for respiratory diseases to those too young or too weak to use an inhaler. Small children tend to have a difficult time breathing in deeply when using inhalers, or they breathe at the wrong time and do not get enough medication into their lungs. Likewise, if you have aching lungs and are unable to breathe deeply, a nebulizer helps to deliver the medication in smaller particles than those of an inhaler.

One other use for a nebulizer is for turning aromatherapy essential oils into a fine mist. By turning the oil into a mist, the scent falls slowly after being sprayed, thus increasing the time in which you can smell the relaxing scent of the oil.


An atomizer is any device that converts liquid into a fine mist spray.

Uses of an Atomizer

An atomizer can be used to deliver metered liquid as a mist, either through a nebulizer or inhaler. Most commonly, atomizers are used in cleaning supplies and in aerosol sprays. Whenever you squeeze the top of a perfume bottle, you are using an atomizer to turn the perfume into a mist.


The biggest difference between a nebulizer and an atomizer is that the atomizer delivers liquid-to-mist instantly, whereas the nebulizer delivers the same combination over a period of 10 minutes. Another key difference is that an atomizer dispenses the mist in small, controlled and metered amounts, whereas the nebulizer does not deliver the mist in metered or controlled dosages. Finally, though nebulizers are almost strictly used for medicinal purposes, atomizers can be found in room sprays, perfumes, cleaning supplies and cooking agents.