Candle Warmers vs Oil Diffusers, Which is Better?

Whenever it comes to scenting your home, there are many different choices. Some options that have gained popularity in recent years are candle warmers and oil diffusers.  With so many choices, it can be difficult to choose. Mainly, the decision simply comes down to personal preference.

So, how do candle warmers and oil diffusers compare? Candle warmers work by using a heat source to melt candles and wax(find the right wax melts here), releasing their fragrance into the room.  Oil diffusers usually do not use heat to diffuse the scent of essential oils throughout the room.  The best choice depends on the individual’s purpose and preference.

When it comes to similarities, both candle warmers and oil diffusers share the following characteristics:

  • They are flameless.
  • They do not have air pollutants.
  • They can be used where candles are banned.
  • They feature a variety of scents.

The following chart outlines the differences between candle warmers and oil diffusers.

Candle WarmersOil Diffusers
1.       To use, you melt your candle or wax on a heat source. 
2.       They cannot be used with essential oils alone.
3.       The hot, melted wax can still burn your skin.
4.       Wax fragrances can vary widely in strength.
5.       You cannot light a candle after warming it.
1.       They are made for use with essential oils. 
2.       Their fragrance is less intense.
3.       The scent can vary between brands of essential oils and types of oil diffusers.
4.       Not all essential oils are safe for children or pets, so you will need to do your research before diffusing.

Some days, adding a favorite scent to the air can give you and the room you are in just the little boost it needs. This can be done by using a candle (wax) warmer or an oil diffuser.

These two popular ways to scent your home have similarities and differences, and the one you choose depends on personal preference and your desired effect.

candle warmer

Candle Warmers

Candle warmers use a heat source to melt a scented candle or wax allowing the fragrance to fill the room. Most candle warmers are electric. They come in two styles.

With one style, a hot plate holds either an entire candle or a bowl for wax sections.  The heat is produced by the hot plate warming when it is turned on.  This design is used with both candles and wax sections.

The other type of warmer has a light bulb that generates enough heat to melt wax sections.  These warmers typically have a bowl to place the wax sections in to allow them to melt.  They only work for wax sections and not whole candles. 

They come in a variety of sizes and styles, including smaller plug-in varieties that release scent while being unobtrusive.

Advantages of Candle Warmers

Candle warmers allow you to enjoy the fragrance of just about any candle without worrying about an open flame or the air pollutants caused by the burning wick. 

They also offer a wide variety of other advantages:

  • The flameless design means that the warmer can be placed near vents, fans, windows, or any other areas with a draft.
  • They can be used in apartments and dorms that have banned candles.
  • They can be left on longer than burning candles.
  • Those designed to be used with candles allow melting even the wax at the very bottom of the jar.

Disadvantages of Candle Warmers

Unfortunately, candle warmers do have some drawbacks. Some of them are:

  • Once a candle has been melted, the wick will sink to the bottom of the melted wax, and the candle will not be able to be lit.
  • The candle wax warmer does not create the same visual ambiance as burning candles.
  • Children and pets can be burned by the hot wax.
  • Some candle plate warmers are too small for larger jar candles.

The other problem with candle warmers is that the consistency of the fragrance can vary widely.  When using whole candles, the initial burst of aroma can be intense and potentially overpowering but then become significantly less powerful with the next use. 

This can also be true when melting new wax sections.

Essential Oils and Candle Warmers

For some people, scenting a home is just an additional perk of their goal of releasing essential oils into the air.  They may want a specific scent, but they also want the aromatherapy effect of that essential oil.  Releasing just fragrance does not have the same impact.

Some candles and wax sections do now come with essential oils in the wax.  This means that a candle or wax warmer can be used with them to release the essential oils from the candle or wax. 

Other people mix the essential oil with coconut oil and use it in a wax warmer bowl.  However, most manufacturers give warnings against doing this.

Oil Diffusers

Oil diffuser is a broad term that covers several different devices.  They all have the same overall function of emitting essential oil particles into the air, but they differ in the way they release the oil. 

The key is that most of them do not use heat because it is believed that heating the essential oil molecules can change their chemical compositions.

Most diffusers fall into four broad categories with different styles in each:

  • Heat Diffuser: The one type of diffuser that does use heat. The scent of the oils often rises on steam created by heating water with essential oils placed in it.  The heat does offset many of the advantages of the oils but also spreads the oil farther and wider faster.
  • Evaporate Diffuser: This type of diffuser works through evaporation.  Some even have a small fan to speed up the process.  Others use reeds.  No heat is used, but it does still require water.
  • Ultrasonic Diffuser: A small basin is filled with water and drops of essential oils. A small metal disc at the bottom emits ultrasonic waves into the water causing a mist of water and oils to be dispersed throughout the room.
  • Nebulizer Diffuser: This is considered the best diffuser because neither heat nor water is needed.  Pressurized air moves through a tub creating a mist dispersing the oil.

Each of these types does have various subtypes. They are all designed to work with essential oils.

Advantages of Oil Diffusers

For those that do not just want to scent a room but are seeking the medicinal qualities of essential oils, the main advantage is that oil diffusers are designed to work with essential oils.  

This means that not only do they scent a room, but they can help with other things such as:

  • Fighting a headache
  • Relieving congestion
  • Sharpening focus
  • Improving sleep
  • Fighting colds and flu

Oil diffusers also have many of the same advantages of a candle warmer in that no open flame is needed. 

They can be used in drafts and can be left running for longer periods of time than a burning candle.  Diffusers are also typically allowed in settings that ban open flames and candles.

Disadvantages of Oil Diffusers

Oil diffusers often dispense a less intense fragrance that may not completely fill the room, especially a larger room.  The types that use heat can still pose a burn risk to children and pets.  The other concern is that not all oils are considered safe for children or pets. 

It is imperative that they never are allowed to ingest the oil and that all scents be checked for animal safety as well as being kids safe.

And a little tip, You can get your favorite candles and diffusers online.

Final Thoughts

When scenting a room, the choices are endless. Candle warmers and oil diffusers are just two of many possibilities.  Both are considered safer than candles because there is no open flame. 

However, both candle warmers and oil diffusers that work with heat need precautions to prevent burning from the heat source.

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.

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