Can the Glow Dreaming set off a Smoke Alarm?

We've had some queries about whether or not the Glow Dreaming Unit can set off smoke alarms. What do you think? Find the answer below

TLDR: No, why? Because science! ūüėé

The Glow Dreaming unit uses an ultrasonic diffuser. This type of diffusion vibrates the base plate at a high frequency to disperse essential oils into the air.

Essentially, the unit vibrates at such a high frequency that it breaks the essential oil particles down into their base molecules. Ultrasonic diffusers use water as a transference mechanism but do not rely on steam. Instead, the oil sits on top of the water and ultrasonic vibrations are created to agitate the water.

This causes the separation of the oil molecules and releases the negative particles into the air in the form of a fine mist.


One of the main reasons we chose to use an ultrasonic diffuser is that ionising diffusers charge the molecules in the air. Ionisers can be good if you are not in the room. This type of diffuser is for cleansing the air and removing impurities.

Unfortunately, these types of diffusers should not be in use when you are in the room as it can cause issues with your respiratory system.

Particularly in infants, positively charged ions which ionisers produce, can cause an increase in bronchial spasms. Bronchial spasms are a sudden constriction of the muscles in the walls of the bronchioles. After exposure to positive ions, it takes somewhere between 10 and 50 hours to revert to normal. *

So how does this relate to Smoke Alarms?

There are two main types of Smoke Alarms that use different methods of detection. These are Ionisation and Photoelectric. Below is a brief rundown of the two types.

Ionisation Smoke Alarms

Ionisation smoke alarms are the most common type of smoke alarm and are quicker at sensing flaming and fast-moving fires.

This type of alarm uses a small amount of radioactive material to ionise air in an internal sensing chamber within the smoke alarm unit. As a result, the air in the chamber becomes conductive. This permits a current to flow between two charged electrodes.

When smoke particles enter this chamber, the conductivity of the chamber air will decrease. When conductivity is reduced to a predetermined level, the alarm is set off. 


Clipsal ionization smoke alarm - Model Number: 755LPSMA4

Photoelectric smoke alarms

Photoelectric smoke alarms are generally not used as mush today as they are slightly more expensive. However, they are quicker at sensing smouldering fires than ionisation smoke alarms. 

A photoelectric smoke alarm consists of a light emitting diode and a light sensitive sensor located in a sensing chamber within the unit.

The presence of suspended smoke particles in the chamber scatters the light beam. This scattered light is detected by the light sensitive sensor which sets off the alarm.


Emerald Planet photoelectric smoke alarm Model Number: EP-HW-240-R1


As you have just read, our Glow Dreaming unit does not in any way effect smoke alarms from working properly. Should you have issues with your alarm we suggest that you get some Smoke Detector testing spray (it emulates the effect of smoke to set your alarm of by using ionised molecules and particles to activate the sensor). Alternatively, if your smoke detector came with testing instructions please follow those.

If you are in the process of replacing your smoke alarms, we would suggest you invest in the photoelectric type of alarm as it will give you a few precious minutes more warning.


*Alexander, D., Bailey, W., Perez, V., Mitchell, M. and Su, S. (2013). Air ions and respiratory function outcomes: a comprehensive review. [online] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].

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