As essential oils grow more popular and prominent, so does the confusion over their offerings. Essential oils smell nice, sure, but couldn't you just get the same effect out of burning a candle? This question has lead many consumers to consider whether they'd be better off using candles or an essential oil diffuser for their aromatherapy. If a pleasant scent is all you're after, then candles are absolutely a viable choice. But if true aromatherapy is what you seek, there's no contest - the benefits provided by diffused essential oils are too numerous and too significant to be ignored. See how these two stack up as we compare diffusers vs. candles.
Diffuser Pros and Cons
That is not, of course, to say that diffusers are without their drawbacks. Diffusers cannot measure up to candles in a few significant categories. For one, they almost universally require electricity. That adds to their cost of operation and limits their viability in situations where power is not available. Additionally, some models function poorly in large spaces; a more expensive diffuser must be purchased if you seek to fill an expansive area with the scent of your chosen essential oil. Finally, it must be considered that the oil itself is considerably more expensive (regarding volume cost) than candles. What's more, the fact that they're not yet as popular as scented candles might make it difficult for you to find the exact oil you need.
Those drawbacks, however, are not nearly enough to detract from the fact that essential oils are indisputably superior aromatherapy tools. That's not just marketing talk, either - numerous studies have been conducted to study the benefits of essential oils, benefits that can range from improved sleep to stress relief with lavender essential oil, from treatment of digestion issues to treatment of depression. The difference lies in the way that essential oils are created.
Products that are 100% essential oil (the only kind you should ever use) require massive amounts of the original plant in their creation. Depending on the variety of essential oil, it could take hundreds or even thousands of pounds of plants to create one pound of oil. This grueling and costly method of distillation isn't done just for kicks - it's done because effective aromatherapy relies on the beneficial compounds found in essential oils, compounds that drastically lose their efficacy when diluted.
How Natural are Your Candles?
That brings us to the main issue of using candles for aromatherapy. Yes, you can buy a candle that offers the scent of lavender, peppermint, or any other plant from which essential oils are made. No candle, however, can claim to be made entirely of natural, beneficial ingredients (as essential oils are). Even if you come across a candle with essential oil blended into the wax, the amount used in the candle's creation will likely not be anywhere near enough to offer any significant aromatherapy benefits.
All of this is beside the fact that many candles produce are synthetically-created scents, which means that they're devoid of the benefits offered by the natural products whose aroma they imitate. What's more, there's reason to believe that exposure to candle smoke can be detrimental to your health. Most candles are created from paraffin wax, which is a petroleum byproduct like plastic, rubber, asphalt, and numerous household chemicals. When burned, the smoke produced by paraffin wax is similar to diesel fumes in the sense that both contain benzene and toluene - known carcinogens to which significant exposure can cause a wide range of frightening health issues.
If that weren't enough, there's also the fact that candles simply aren't as practical as diffusers in most situations. The fact that open flames are too dangerous to keep lit overnight makes candles a dangerous choice for those looking to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy as they sleep. That's a significant limitation given how many individuals turn to aromatherapy to assist with narcolepsy and other sleep-related issues. Open flames likewise aren't the best choice for homes with pets or small children. There's also the fact that it's extremely difficult to control the duration or intensity of a scent released by a candle, and the reality of the mess that must be cleaned up once it's melted.
Finally, the idea that candles are less expensive than essential oil and a diffuser is based on a lack of long-term vision. Yes, a solid diffuser and a reasonable amount of essential oil will likely cost you more than even a high-quality candle. That said, essential oil is so concentrated that it's all but guaranteed to last longer than all but the most massive of candles. The diffuser represents a one-time investment whereas a new candle must be bought as soon as the old one melts. Saving a little money in the short term doesn't seem that appealing when you consider the piled-up long-term candle costs (to say nothing of the fact that you're not even getting true aromatherapy for the additional expense).
None of what's written here comparing diffusers vs. candles is meant to be disparaging towards candles or those who enjoy them. When used safely and for purely atmospheric purposes, candles represent a great way to romantically light a room or to fill that room with a pleasant scent. That said, regarding aromatherapy candles fall well short of the benefits offered by essential oils dispersed through diffusers. If you're interested in a diffuser for your home or office, we invite you to take a look at our wide variety of affordable models. Need help choosing the right diffuser? Our friendly customer care representatives are always available to answer any questions you might have on diffusers or essential oils in general.