Candle Warmer vs Burning Candle: Pros and Cons?


Burning candles can pose a fire hazard but candle warmers lack the ambiance that only a lit candle can generate. When deciding between the two, what are the pros and cons of each?

Some candle warmer pros include toddler and pet safety, and you can leave it on as you fall asleep without fear of potentially starting a fire. But a burning candle can be more relaxing and offer a light source when entertaining.

You might be surprised to learn additional facts about candle warmers, so keep reading.

Candle Warmer vs Burning Candle

Candle Warmer: Benefits and Drawbacks

The idea of using a candle to fragrance the home traditionally involves lighting a wick with a match or lighter. So it’s understandable how people can have so many questions about candle warmers.

Candle warmers offer various features as alternatives to an open flame. But as with any product, there are pros and cons to using them.   

How Do Candle Warmers Work?

Candle warmers are an electric heat source positioned above or beneath your candle container. Once plugged in and activated, your wicked candle is warmed and the wax melts, releasing the desired fragrance. Let’s look at some examples.

Candle Warmer Examples

For a safer and somewhat more cost effective solution to burning candles, you have a number of options for heating up jars of candles that you find in your favorite stores. 

Bottom Heating Candle Warmers

We’ll begin with candle warmers that heat from the bottom. You might be most familiar with these models. They are multi-purpose units that can also keep your tea, coffee, or soup warm. But they take longer to release candle fragrance.

Flameless Candle Plate

This is a disc-shaped jar warmer. Heat is distributed from the base of the warmer through the bottom of the candle. Its diameter is 4.25 inches, which makes it ideal for regular-sized candles.

Auto Shut-Off Candle Warmer Plate

You can place larger candles on this warmer, and there are two temperature settings. Most importantly, it automatically shuts off after four hours, making it safe to use at night.

Top Down Candle Warmers

A number of candle warmers look like small table lamps that melt wax from the top. Due to the position and proximity of the heat source, scent is released more quickly when using top warmers. 

Softanzi Candle Warmer

Made of metal, this lamp is coated in matte paint. It’s 11.2 inches high, but your candle can be no more than 5 inches tall in order to fit under the lamp cover. 

At close to 6 inches in diameter, larger candles can fit on this base.

There are multiple temperature settings, using a dimmable 35-watt halogen light bulb. This warmer lamp was designed with a stationary arm. It can’t be adjusted based on the size of your candle.

Versatile Candle Warmer Lamp

For even larger candles, you might try this warmer designed on a large marble slab base. Using its 50-watt halogen light bulb, you can adjust the heat setting according to the size of your candle or how quickly you want to smell its fragrance. Timer options include one, two, or four hours. 

Adjustable Candle Warmer Lamp with Timer

One of the best candle warmer features is an adjustable arm. If your candles vary in size, then an adjustable arm is ideal. Candles as tall as 7 inches can be warmed by this unit. You can bring the warmth down closer to smaller candles, and pull it up for larger ones. Dimmer and timer options promote safety while sleeping.

What are the Pros of Using Candle Warmers?

It may seem weird to warm wax that’s created to be burned, but there are some advantages to using candle warmers.

Uses the Full Candle

Candle manufacturers suggest that you stop burning your candle when there’s one to two inches of wax remaining at the bottom of the candle container. Oftentimes, the wick runs out at this point, preventing you from lighting the candle past this wax level. 

It’s a safety measure that prevents the container base from overheating and potentially breaking.

But it can be heartbreaking to stare at excess wax from an expensive candle that you can no longer burn. There are ways to remove and reuse the wax but those methods can be a hassle for some people.

Using candle warmers, you extend the life of those candles because they warm the wax all the way to the bottom of the container; there’s no waste.  

Pure Fragrance

You may experience a stronger scent throw when using top-down candle warmers. The fragrance is purer because it isn’t combined with the smell of smoke as when wicks burn.

If you have asthma or a different respiratory condition that makes you sensitive to smoke, then warming the candle instead would prevent lung agitation.

Candle Lasts Longer

There are some situations where you’ll be able to extend the life of your candle when using a candle warmer.

  • If your wick is buried in hardened wax, you can still enjoy that candle if you place it on a candle warmer. In the past, you would have had to follow a long process to restore the wick or just throw it away.
  • Warmed candles always melt evenly. Even the most diligent candle user can sometimes experience tunneling. But there’s no tunneling here because heat isn’t restricted to the center of the candle.
  • Lastly, a candle warmer uses less intense heat than fire. Less heat means the fragrance oils will release their scent for a longer period of time.

Safer to Use

Safety is often the highest motivating factor for using a candle warmer. Burning candles are the cause of over 8,000 house fires each year.

  • Warmers prevent fires. You can confidently fall asleep when using warmers with timers.
  • Candle warmers are also safer to use around children and/or pets.

But if you have children or pets, you’d still need to make sure that you place the warming candle out of their reach. Even though there isn’t a flame, the wax is still hot and can burn your child or pet of tipped over.

  • The flameless aspect of candle warmers makes them Ideal for apartment or dorm living where open fires are prohibited. 
  • The candle wax continues to melt even if there’s a draft. You don’t have to worry about a draft blowing out a flame, causing a flame to grow, or lighting flammable objects near the candle when using a warmer.

Are There Cons of Using Candle Warmers?

Although candle warmers are convenient and safe, there are some drawbacks to using them instead of burning a candle.

Up Front Costs

Candle warmers with the best features like top-down heat, adjustable height, dimmer options, and timer settings are not cheap. 

There is a sizable cost at the outset that makes them more difficult to access. Additionally, your electric bill will be impacted by the use of candle warmers. 

Fading Scent

Since there isn’t a flame, the wax doesn’t evaporate, but loses fragrance over time. You might notice that your candle isn’t as strong as it used to be. In such cases, you can use a cotton pad to absorb the unscented wax sitting on top of the candle. As it continues to warm, you should begin to smell the stronger scent again. 

Possibly Not as Economical

Warming candles may not be as economical as buying wax melts and the warmers designed for them. Wax melts are less expensive but more fragrant, and last a long time. 

Making candles that burn is an involved process that requires a lot of trial and error. A limited amount of fragrance oil is added to wicked candles depending on multiple factors. Therefore, container candles are not as fragranced as wax melts.

When wax melts lose fragrance, you can simply add more cubes to the warmer, but you can’t adjust the intensity of container candles. You actually have to remove wax from the candle jar in order to help release the scent.

Candle Warmers vs Burning Candles Summary

There are advantages and disadvantages to using either method when enjoying a candle.

When considering the pros and cons of using a candle warmer versus burning a candle, personal preference and lifestyle will influence your perspective about which option would be better for you.

Candle WarmerBurning Candle
Pros– No open flame
– Set a timer for overnight use
– Scent untainted by smoke and soot
– Use more of the candle
– No candle tunneling
– Candle light ambiance
– Wax properly evaporates
– Strong scent throw of luxury candles
– Decorative use when entertaining
Cons– Not as cost effective as suggested
– Can’t intensify candle fragrance
– Lacks ambiance
– Warmers can be costly
– Releases smoke
– Open flame
– Unsafe around children/pets
– Can’t leave burning unattended
– Can’t leave burning overnight
– Can’t burn all the way to the bottom

For every pro or con on these lists, a person might have a different perspective or concern.

Ultimately, if you’re interested in using a candle warmer, you would have to try it and make comparisons based on your needs and desires.

Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

Recent Posts