What is a candle warmer? (pros & cons)

In the last few years, candle warmers have been becoming more popular as more and more people come to know about them through video-sharing platforms.

As the demand has increased for the product, shops and online websites have started to stock candle warmers in greater numbers.

The popularity of this product is owing to the fact that it allows one to enjoy the pleasant fragrance of scented candles without burning through them and therefore also does not generate the soot that comes with the burning of a candle.

What is a candle warmer?

What is a candle warmer
Iamgemma / Dreamstime.com

A candle warmer is an electrical device that melts the candle wax without a flame. That is to say, the candle does not burn because it has been lighted at the wick but because of heat from the device.

This is an excellent method to prolong the lifespan of a candle and enjoy its fragrance for an extended period of time.

Do candle warmers work?

A candle warmer makes a candle last longer than if it was being burnt by using the traditional burning method. So yes, candle warmers do work. But you will still hear complaints from disgruntled customers who did not find any utility in the device. Why is that?

Well, there can be multiple reasons behind it. Maybe they do not know how to use it and have not followed the instruction manual that comes with the device if bought from a reputable brand. Or maybe they received a faulty product.

This device is a bit costly if you compare its price with that of a traditional candle. So many people who wish to buy it may sometimes go for cheaper alternatives. While some may luck out on cheap knockoffs but most will tell you how these stop working after a while. 

What does a candle warmer do?

What does a candle warmer do

To put it into simple words, the purpose of candle warmers is to melt the wax of candles without an open flame.

All candles contain paraffin, thus it is a prerequisite that it needs to melt for the fragrance stored inside to be released.

But think about this, scented candles are usually costlier than your regular candles used for providing light, and would you want to use it up all in one go or in a short time? This is where the need for a scented candle comes in.

The device makes the use of electricity to create a sort of heating element inside itself that leads the candle stored within to start melting.

The vapors released by the candle that also contains the fragrance are absorbed by the wick of the device and are then distributed outside. There is a mechanism in place for cooling and conservation of the candle after a bit of it has been used. 

Different types of candle warmers

Candle warmers are great gifts for people as they can also be used as decorative items for homes.

To cater to this purpose, makers of candle warmers incorporate new designs into the make and build of the products so that they can be placed as an object of attraction and with aesthetic value.

There are four varieties of candle warmers that are most commonly bought and sold:

Candle warmer lamp

Candle warmer lamp

As the name suggests, this type of candle warmer also doubles as a lamp. The main device that houses the candle is set on an anti-slip base over which a lamp shade is suspended by a curved metal bar.

Inside the lampshade, a small bulb is fitted that can be turned on while the device is active. The heat generated from the lamp is directly cast on the candle beneath it, gradually causing it to melt.

There are a number of brands that sell this type of candle warmer and each has different and unique shapes and designs. The goal of a candle warmer lamp is the maximum satisfaction of the customer.

Those who like to relax in the dark can use this device to emit a calming fragrance while also acting like a small light in the dark room. The dual purpose of this type of candle warmer makes it a unique product that is definitely worth purchasing.

Hot plate candle warmer

Hot plate candle warmer

This is a more basic and simply designed candle warmer. It has only one component in its body and that is an anti-slip platform-like structure or the hot plate.

When turned on, it will gradually heat up and start warming the candle that is placed above it.

Its mechanism is very close to that of an induction oven but it uses much less energy or electricity. Think of a coffee mug warmer, a hot plate candle warmer is probably closest to that in its make and build.

Tea Light wax warmer

This kind of candle warmers specifically uses tea light candles to produce heat for warming the candles. The tea light candles that are used are usually unscented as the aroma of the candles is more favored anyway.

However, this is not popular with people who like to avoid flames because to warm the main candle the tea light candle has to be lit which ends up defeating the whole purpose of a candle warmer.

Bottom light warmer

Bottom light candle warmers have a light bulb installed in a ceramic or metal container and covered with a bowl.

Fragrant wax chips or candle chips are placed inside the bowl which heats up due to the light beneath it. This heat causes the wax to melt inside the bowl and fill the air with a beautiful aroma.

How do candle warmers work?

How do candle warmers work

What all candle warmers follow is a lack of burning or open flame. No part of this device uses fire to melt the candle. So, as an alternative, candle warmers convert electrical energy to generate heat.

The most basic type of candle warmer is a plug-in hot plate candle warmer that has a cord that needs to be plugged into an electrical socket and then switched on.

The hot plate contains coils that receive the surge of electricity and start heating up. The candles when placed on this plate start melting on coming in contact with the warmth.

Another type of candle warmer also makes use of electricity but does not need a heated plate beneath the candle. This, however, also has a platform to house the candle placed in a jar over which a lamp or a bulb is suspended using a bent rod.

The lamp is lit on the candle and this light energy converts to heat to start melting the candle.

Some candle warmers can also be plugged into a USB port using the attached USB cord. The USB mechanism makes the device more portable and can be carried to places where there are no electrical sockets or when there is no available electricity.

How to use a candle warmer?

The first thing that you need to know about the usage of a candle warmer is that the electric ones can only be used with candles that are stored in jars.

Most scented candles are sold in jars anyway and because the main purpose of the device is to diffuse aroma around a place, so it is already convenient. 

Secondly, most candles in a jar will come with a paper label attached at the bottom or on its sides. You should peel that off to remove anything flammable from the source of the fire.

Although it is unlikely that paper will catch fire from electric heating, one can never be too safe.

Then you have to carefully place the candle in the area demarcated for it and switch on the heating procedure.

Bottom light candle warmers however use bare wax chips without any glass encasing. This makes it easier for those who like to mix fragrances. You can mix two or more kinds of wax chips to create your own unique scent.

Pros and Cons of candle warmers

Candle warmers are electrical devices and have both good and bad characteristics.

However, it cannot be denied that candle warmers are indeed an innovative thing for people who enjoy candles and are interested in the candle-making procedure.


Here are the advantages of using candle warmers.

  • It extends the lifespan of candles.
  • No open flame and thus does not create the smoke and soot that is common in the traditional way of burning candles.
  • There are fewer risks of fire as you can leave it unattended. It is not the same for lit candles which need to be supervised lest they fall on something flammable.
  • It is safe to use around pets.
  • Can be used as a decorative item.


Here are the disadvantages of using candle warmers.

  • Uses electricity and increases the energy bill even if by a little amount.
  • Can ruin the candle if it melts too much and does not re-solidify properly.
  • Cannot be used with all kinds of candles, only ones that come in jars can be used.
  • Quite more expensive than traditional candles.
  • Can generate left-over wax.

Can you use a candle warmer for any candle?

Can you use a candle warmer for any candle

No, you cannot. Candle warmers can only be used for candles that are stored in jars. Because this device does not have any part for collecting melted wax. It melts the wax, diffuses its scent in the air, and then re-solidifies it for further usage.

If candles without a glass cover are used on a candle warmer, they will melt right on the device and damage it.

The only exception to this is the Bottom light candle warmer which uses a bowl and a light placed beneath it to heat the bowl. Pieces of bare wax are thrown into the bowl, which melts and the vapors are diffused in the air.

This type of candle warmer is also used to mix aromas as you can throw pieces of different scents into the bowl and melt them together to get a mixed and unique fragrance.

How long do candles last on candle warmers?

On average, a candle of standard thickness should last for 20-110 hours on a candle warmer.

However, this time duration is calculated assuming that the candle warmer has a mechanism to automatically shut off the heat when enough wax is melted and then turn on again when the effect of the heat wears off.

How long the candles will last also depends on how high the heat is when it is being used and the thickness of the candles. Thinner candles will last for a lesser duration with standard usage and a thicker candle will last for a longer duration.

Are candle warmers safe?

Candle warmers are generally considered quite safe if used properly. It is still an electrical device that uses heat so the chance of getting a burn always remains if you are not careful while handling it.

For instance, if you touch the bent rod of a lamp candle warmer or the hot plate under where the coils are, your skin is sure to get a burn. If you have kids in the house who are curious by nature and like to touch everything, then candle warmers may pose a safety violation for you.

Moreover, pets get attracted to burning flames and try to swallow candles that may harm the insides of their mouth and their digestive system. A candle warmer removes that possibility. 

However, if you place them at a level where a pet can come across it, they may mistake the puddle of melted wax as water and try to lick it off with their tongue which will also leave a painful scalding.

Final Thoughts

The usefulness of a candle warmer cannot be denied. It is quite an innovative way to enjoy the fragrance of candles without having to deal with the problem of a smoky room.

One may ask, why not just use diffusers to make a room fragrant? While it is true that diffusers can also distribute fragrance around a room but the fact is only a limited number of scents are available for diffusers.

While in the case of candles, there is no limitation as to what scent you may want to have. Scented candles can also be customized by candle makers so candle warmers have a somewhat upper hand over diffusers if the matter of fragrance is considered.

Sharing is caring!