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Candle Warmer Vs. Burning Candle, What’s the Difference?

6 min read

Burning candles or using candle warmers is a great way to get a good scent going into your home. When your home smells good, it feels more like, well… a home. However, there are two ways to do this–burning candles the old-fashioned way or melting the wax in candle warmers.

What is the difference between a candle warmer vs. burning a candle? The differences are clear–candle warmers do not require a flame, they don’t produce as many chemicals, and, lastly, candle warmers do not produce soot. 

Even with these differences, though, does that mean that the smelly aspect of a candle warmer vs. burning a candle is going to be any different? That all depends on the scent throw.

Candle Warmer vs. Burning a Candle

There are several benefits to each side of the candle warmer vs. burning a candle debate. For starters, the candle industry is massive and only ever getting bigger. Even if a large portion of the world was to transition from traditional candles to candle warmers, the candle business would still be booming.  This means that candles are much easier to find than candle warmers.

Another benefit of using a candle is that it can give your home a more classic, cozy feel than a candle warmer would. The flame creates the illusion of warmth, which will make your home seem warmer and more inviting than just having the scent from the candle warmer alone.

However, a candle warmer has a number of benefits.  It is flameless, which is good if you have children, pets, or a forgetful mind. There is essentially no danger with candle warmers. In addition, the scents given off by a candle warmer will often last longer.  This is great if you are on a budget.


What’s the Difference?

We’ve established that there are definitely several differences between candle warmers and burning candles, but what do those differences really mean?

When you are trying to pick a scent from your home, you might not even think to consider things like lasting power or scent throw. People buying candles typically stick their face in them, decide if they like the smell, and leave it at that. However, just because it smells nice in the store, doesn’t mean that is the scent they will get when you take the candle home.

Scent throws

A scent throw is just what it sounds like–the scent that the melted wax, whether by candle or warmer, “throws” around your home. People using the term scent throw are trying to describe a fragrance’s strength. Theoretically, this term can be applied to perfumes and air fresheners, but more often than not, it is used exclusively for candles.

Candles and wax, in general, have two different scent throws: a cold throw and a hot throw. Though some might argue that the hot throw is the only one that really matters, making sure that the candle has a cold throw that you enjoy both in scent and in strength is imperative. If you buy a candle with an incredibly intense cold throw, you can expect an incredibly strong fragrance.

The cold throw is the scent of the candle or the wax bars before they’ve been lit. When you’re in Target sticking your face in the candles, you’re getting the cold throw. The term “cold throw” could also be applied if you’re smelling a candle once it has been lit, as long as one remembers that they’re smelling the wick in addition to the wax.

The hot throw is the one that comes after the candle has been lit. This is the smell of the melted wax. Often, it’s a little more intense than the wax’s cold throw might be. However, something to consider is that in a traditional candle, you are smelling the burnt or burning wick in addition to the wax. Wicks produce some chemicals and soot, so it will impact the smell, especially after you blow it out.

Which lasts longer?

This is a hard question to answer since the answer will differ just as much as your melting mechanism. On the bottom of just about every traditional candle, it’ll tell you a certain amount of hours that you can burn your candle for. At the very least, it’ll tell you to stop burning the candle once it reaches a certain level. Depending on how often you burn your candle and how long you burn it for, it could last for anywhere from 48 hours onwards. Some candles, especially those with natural ingredients, will have set expiration dates, while others are good forever.

Wax melts are a bit different. Rather than coming in one big jar full of a big wax clump, wax melts come in packs of bars that break off into individual pieces, almost like a candy bar. Because of that, you can throw in as many or as few bars as you’d like, or you can cut them up even smaller to make them last even longer. Overall, wax melts in candle warmers are going to last longer than your traditional candle, as each little bar of wax will have a pretty long burn time.

Are Candle Warmers Safer?

Safety is paramount in every situation, of course. That’s why, when you’re considering using wax to make your home smell nice, you should always consider what your safest option is, in addition to your most practical one.

Most candle warmers today are electric, meaning that they require no flame at all. If you have small children or pets that might say to themselves, “that smells good. Maybe I should eat it,” then a candle warmer is probably your best bet.

Producing soot

Another thing that you need to think about is whether soot is something you care about. Some landlords will not allow candles in their rental houses, as the soot will yellow the walls and the windows over time. The same thing will happen if cigarettes are smoked indoors.

In producing soot, candles with traditional wicks are also often producing harsher chemicals into the air, like lead. Not only might this impact your or your family if you have allergies, asthma, or are prone to headaches, but it also has an impact on the fragrance itself.

Wax burners, which require no flame, do not produce any soot, unless you want to argue that technically they’re plugged into the wall, which is connected to electricity, which comes from a power plant, which produces soot. While that is true, it’s not directly affecting you and the smell of your home, is it?


Controlling your aromas

With wax melts, you can toss in as many or as few bars of the scented wax as you’d like. That means that you can either amp up or bring down your scent throw with no hardship at all. In addition, you have the option to mix multiple bars of wax together to create your own custom scent.

The closest you’ll come to that customization with a traditional wicked candle is burning multiple of them at once, and even then, you won’t always get that pure scent that you would with wax melts.

How to make traditional candles smell stronger

There are a few things you can do to help your traditional candles smell stronger, to make the scent of the wick, and to improve the scent’s purity overall.

First and foremost, you could simply buy two or more of the same candles and have them all going at once. This option isn’t the most practical; high-quality candles are not cheap, and twice the candles means twice the soot. If you are in a bind or really just at a loss, though, that is a solid plan to fall back on.



You could also take into account the size of the room you want to burn the candle in. The more space you have in the room, the more space over which the scent will naturally end up dissipating. Burning candles in smaller rooms will create stronger scent throws. Burning candles in bigger rooms will make the scents more subtle.

Beauty is in the Nose of the Beholder

The beauty of home scents is that you literally do not have to follow one single bit of this article’s advice. If you don’t agree, or you want to try something else, you’re welcome to. Your house, your smells.

However, it is indisputable that in the case of a candle warmer versus burning a candle, there are many differences, including scent throw, lasting power, and safety. Whether you’re a total candle connoisseur or just starting out, you can find something that’s right for you.

Personally, we’ve always used regular candles, though I recently received a wax burner in a Yankee swap and it was undeniably a pleasant experience to not have to worry, really, about it burning my entire life to the ground just because I wanted my room to smell like Christmas Marshmallow Funtime.



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