Reed Diffuser vs Candle: Which is Better for Your Home?

Scented candles and reed diffusers are only two ways to fragrance the home. With so many options, how do you know which is better?

Scented candles generate warmth and glow that can’t be paralleled by other home fragrance methods. But reed diffusers are a low maintenance approach to consistently releasing a pleasing scent throughout your home.

Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages to using a reed diffuser vs a scented candle.

Reed Diffuser vs Candle

Reed Diffuser vs Scented Candle: Side by Side Comparison

Filling your home with fragrance is one way to personalize your space. Depending on what scent you and method you choose, you can alter your home’s atmosphere. 

Here’s an overview of what you can expect when using reed diffusers versus scented candles.

Reed Diffuser vs Scented Candle Comparison Table

Reed DiffuserCandle
Low maintenance?YesNo
Ongoing fragrance?YesNo
Adjustable intensity?YesNo
Strong scent throw?NoYes
Refillable fragrance?YesNo
Smoke producing?NoYes
Fire hazard?NoYes
Safe around children and pets?SomewhatNo
Creates ambiance?NoYes
Affordable?Yes and NoYes and No
TOTAL PROS:7/125/12

As you can see, there are pros and cons to each one, so let’s dive deeper into these comparison categories. 

Reed Diffuser vs Scented Candle: Category Comparison 

Both scenting options offer an energy-saving solution for fragrancing your home, but which one does it best? 

Decorative Aspect

In both cases, you can find containers that complement your home decor.

Reed diffusers can come in different colored glass containers. Some may have jewels, ribbons, or other elements hanging from the containers.

Reeds are brown, white, or black, and some reed sticks have a spiral shape, making them look more luxurious.

Additional diffusing sticks are made of spongy material shaped into flowers. And then there are some that include dried flowers, which don’t diffuse the fragrance, but bring color, texture, and added interest to the reed diffuser.

Lastly, you might find reed diffusers with dried flowers in the fragrance oil solution. This can be a beautiful addition to existing designs within your home.

Reed diffuser decor is ideal for those who like to bring natural elements inside their home. 

Scented candles have been on the market longer and their versatility lends even more to your decor options.

You can find colorful patterned tin candle containers, elegant low relief patterns on glass containers, and everything in between. Stating that there’s something for everyone is not an exaggeration. 

Maintenance: Reed Diffusers

Since reeds sit in fragrance oil and slowly disperse scent into the air, you can place reed diffusers almost anywhere and leave them there for months. 

Reeds will need to periodically be flipped in order to disperse the freshest scent, but aside from that, this system is hands-off.

There is more care that must be taken when using candles. 

Firstly, they should only be lit on a level surface away from flammable materials and never be left unattended. 

You have to prevent tunneling and monitor the height of the flame to prevent the development of soot. 

Lastly, once they cool, it’s best to keep candles covered to prevent dust and debris from collecting in the container.


There exists a wide range of price points available for both reed diffusers and candles. Economy options are not always the best choice due to low quality ingredients, but they’re available at a lower cost. Moderately priced and luxury products are available for either diffusers or candles as well. 

Scent Availability

My assumption is that there are more scent options available for candles than reed diffusers. But some of your favorite candle scents might also be available as reed diffusers.

Yankee Candle’s Midsummer’s Night is one of their best-selling scents as a candle, and the reeds are also convenient. Nest and Capri Blue are two more examples of brands that sell their signature candle scents as reed diffusers as well. 

Scent Release

One of the primary benefits of reed diffusers is their consistent fragrances release. The scent is more intense when first used, and then tampers down. 

For a resurgence of fragrance, you can flip the reeds every few days. The frequency is up to you.  

Regarding candles, some of them have a strong cold throw – when they aren’t lit, they release fragrance. Typically, you can smell cold throw scents best in smaller rooms and bathrooms. 

Otherwise, within minutes of lighting a candle, fragrance is released as the wax melts. For safety reasons, candles should only remain lit for four hours. So there’s a limit to the scent release for candles that doesn’t exist for reed diffusers.

Fragrance Intensity

Another aspect of fragrance release is intensity. Intensity varies and is not only based upon the ingredients used to make the candle or reed diffuser fragrance oils, but also depends on temperature and room size.

The same candle or reed diffuser can smell more or less intense depending on its setting and environmental conditions. 

One additional note about intensity, though, is that you can alter the intensity of reed diffusers, but you can’t change the intensity of scented candles. With candles, what you purchase is simply what you get. Unless you burn more than one candle at once, you can’t adjust their intensity.

But with reed diffusers, you can place more reeds into the container to release a stronger scent. This is ideal when placing reed diffusers in larger rooms.


Reed diffusers can last two to three months with consistent use, but this also depends on how many reeds you use at once. The more reeds you use, the more scent oils traveling up the reeds and out into the air.

Candles last according to how many hours they’re burned, which varies by use and candle size. Some smaller candles can last a week with consistent use while larger ones might last a month or longer when used often.

In either case, ambient temperature can also impact how long either one lasts. 

Home Safety

Two safety factors that specifically apply to reed diffusers and candles are pet and child safety, and fire prevention.

In terms of fire prevention, reed diffusers have candles beat. There’s no naked flame needed to activate the scent mechanism for reed diffusers, unlike candles. Naturally, you have to keep an eye on candle flames, even if you live alone. Fires can begin too easily and spread too quickly for you to risk walking out of the room or falling asleep while a candle is lit. 

And if you have children or pets, it’s best to avoid lighting candles around them altogether. 

For the most part, you can leave reed diffusers unattended. The only caveat is if you have children and/or pets in the home. Reed diffusers must be placed outside of their reach in order to keep the kids and/or pets safe.

Mood & Relaxation

Here’s where candles really shine. No other home fragrance alternative offers the ambient lighting that a candle can – not even flameless candles adequately mimic this lighting.

Lighting a candle can also help you engage in relaxed focus in ways that reed diffusers cannot.

Effects on Health

Smoke and soot can agitate the airway passage of individuals with pulmonary health conditions. Smoke can also trigger allergy symptoms. Poorly made candles might release toxins in the air that can pose a threat to your health.

Fragrance oils used in either candles or reed diffusers can potentially cause an allergic reaction as well. To prevent negative effects, pay attention to the ingredients used and monitor any pre-existing health conditions. 

Post-Use Replacement Options

Both reed diffuser and scented candle containers are often made of class. So in terms of sustainability, containers from either can be cleaned and repurposed.

But in terms of fragrance, only diffuser oils can be refilled. And the benefit to this is that you can either refill the container with the same scent, or you can clean the jar, and then pour a new scent into it.

If you opt to change the scent, you will also need to switch out your reed diffusers so as not to blend the fragrances. 

Replacing reeds every three to six months is ideal, anyway. Since there are oils traveling up the reed fibers, they can begin to collect dust that clogs their tiny pores, which inhibits scent distribution.

In Closing

Reed diffusers and candles are nice scenting options for the home. Generally speaking, reed diffusers are more ideal for homes with children and pets, so long as the diffusers are kept out of reach.

Scented candles are best used after the children and pets are asleep or in homes where there aren’t any little ones. 

When deciding between the two, you might also want to consider room size, the extent to which you’re willing to monitor the fragrance release, and whether you’re seeking fragrance only or ambiance as well.

If you can’t fit in time to monitor and maintain a scented candle, then reed diffusers are an effective alternative.

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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