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Essential oil burner vs. diffuser

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A beautiful aroma can change the atmosphere of a room. The soothing scent of lavender can calm the environment, while the sweet smell of sweet orange oil can amp up your energy levels and lift your mood. But does it matter how you diffuse these scents into the room? Are there any benefits of using an essential oil burner vs. diffusers for aromatherapy?

Let's dig deeper and find out which is a better choice – essential oil burner or diffuser.

The two most popular ways to gain benefits of essential oil are essential oil burners and essential oil ultrasonic diffusers. However, if you want to choose only one of these to scent your home and provide all the health benefits, you must learn how these two work and the main differences between the two. 

essential oil burner sitting in a window

*This post contains affiliate links to the essential oils and other products I talk about in the post. Purchasing them here from my blog is no extra cost to you but I do earn a commission that helps in the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!

What is an oil burner?

An essential oil burner burns the essential oils to vaporize it. It is usually made up of copper, ceramic, or soapstone. It has a cup-shaped holder for putting in your essential oils, and there is space underneath to hold a candle that acts as a burner. The candle's heat evaporates the oil, turns it into vapor, and diffuses the scent into the air in the room. 

What is an essential oil diffuser?

An essential oil diffuser is an electrical appliance that works by putting a few drops of essential oil into a water tank so that the aroma can be diffused into the air by floating water molecules. They are the most popular aromatherapy diffusers because of their ease of use.

The ultrasonic diffuser has a small flexible membrane located at its base, which vibrates ultrasonically. This passes energy to the water, which then turns the water into water vapor. The water vapor, along with the essential oils, is then propelled into the air. 

Check out our readers favorite diffusers in our Diffuser buying guide.

While electric oil diffusers are gaining popularity, reed diffusers are also equally popular. These diffusers diffuse fragrance into the air without the use of heat or electricity. The essential oil seeps through the reeds and disperses in the air.

a lit essential oil burner on a pink surface

Types of essential oil burners

Tealight candle oil burner

These essential oil burners are easy to use and are also cost-effective. Fill the cup-shaped holder with water, add a few drops of essential oils, light a tea light candle underneath, and your work is done. 

When you buy a tea light candle oil burner, make sure that the bowl is large enough. There should be at least six centimeters distance between the tea light candles and the bottom of the water container.

Ceramic essential oil burners are the most popular tealight oil burner because they look great, are easy to clean, and are simple to set up. 

The NJCharms Ceramic Tealight Holder Essential oil Burner is hand-carved and made from unglazed ceramic. Using a naked flame of a small tea light candle to heat the oil.

The Elegant Blue Porcelain Tear Drop Metal Stand Tea Light Oil Warmer has a striking design. The stylish design of themetal loop balances the ceramic oil basin above the tealight to give off a warm glow. 

 Essential oil burners electric

Electric essential oil burners are popular as they are safer than tealight oil burners. There is no risk of fire as there is no open flame. Since the temperature of the bowl is maintained at low heat, the oil is dispersed slowly. 

The Sunpin oil warmer is a safe heat source that disperses essential oils into the air. Its 3D firework effect makes it a good décor option for your home or office. 

Lamp ring burner

Lamp ring burners are an easy and economical way of diffusing essential oils. These small ceramic rings can fit on standard-size household table lamps and bulbs. Add a few drops of essential oils to the light bulb ring and place it on the top of your bulb. When you turn on the bulb, the heat from the bulb will heat the lamp rings diffusing the scent of essential oils into the atmosphere. 

The Home Interior ceramic lamp ring is an effective way to keep your home smelling great. 

Wax melts

Wax melts are essentially wickless candles. When you melt this scented wax in a wax warming device, the wax releases a stronger fragrance than a scented candle. This is because you are melting the wax at a higher and more consistent temperature. 

Though many wax melts are available online, you should opt for natural waxes like soy wax, coconut wax, or beeswax-based products. 

You can use The Candle Warmers Etc, Midas 2-in-1 fragrance warmer with wax melts to freshen up your home. It has over 11,000 reviews and it looks so stylish and amazing.

Be mindful of using wax warmers around small children and pets due to safety reasons. The heated wax can cause burns.

Oil diffuser vs. oil burner – Key differences

1. Operation

Oil diffusers break essential oils into tiny droplets of fine mist that float in the air and fill the room with their therapeutic benefits and pleasant scent. A diffuser is the best type of diffuser to scent larger spaces. They also do not heat the essential oils so it is believed the benefits of aromatherapy are greater with a diffuser.

Essential oil burners heat the drops of oil. The oil evaporates, and the surrounding air is filled with the scent of the essential oils but it is believed that the chemical composition can be changed affecting the aromatherapy effect. 

2. Safety

You cannot leave an oil burner unattended as it can be a fire hazard. If you have small children and pets, an oil diffuser may be a safer alternative as there is no fire involved here. Remember some essential oils are flammable.

3. Usage time

Essential oil burners work for as long as the candle that is used in them lasts. When the candle burns out, the burner stops working. 

Oil diffusers work for longer and do not require much monitoring.

4. Cost

Essential oil burners are cheaper and easy to find. Oil diffusers are comparatively a more expensive diffuser.

5. Looks

Ceramic burners are great to look at. The flame of the burning candle adds a soothing touch to the eyes. Reed diffusers are comparatively simpler and more functional. However, a few diffusers have decorative glass and ceramic vessels that can also look good. 

6. Maintenance

You must clean your oil burner regularly to remove the molten wax and the soot from it. Diffusers are comparatively easier to maintain. 

How to use essential oil burners safely?

Many people worry about the safety of essential oil warmers or essential oil burners, as they are popularly called. There is no doubt that you cannot leave your oil burner diffuser unattended around children and pets. So, are essential oil burners safe to use? Of course, they are safe, as long as you follow these safety practices – 

1. Maintain a low temperature for your heat oil diffuser

If the temperature is too high, your liquid will burn faster, and the therapeutic effects of the essential oils will also change. Ensure the candle is at least six centimeters away from the bottom of the oil holder to maintain low temperature. It is important to also note that many pure essential oils are flammable.

2. Remember to snuff out the candle

Whether you are using a ceramic oil diffuser or a soapstone one, remember to snuff out the candle on time. You should not let the candle burn after the liquid in the bowl is exhausted. Don’t let your oil burner burn through the night. Always snuff out the candle before you sleep. if fire safety is a concern then with the debate of essential oil burner vs diffuser the diffuser is the smart way to go.

3. Don’t use for more than 40 minutes

Ideally, you should not use your essential oil burner for more than 40 minutes continuously. Using it for more than this time can lead to headaches.

4. Clean your oil burner after use

Wait till the burner has cooled down before your begin to clean it. Remove the crease with a damp cloth and liquid detergent. If there is stubborn oil on the burner, use baking soda and water to clean. Do not use a metal scourer as it may damage the oil burner. 

Best essential oils for oil burners

The essential oil you choose for your burner should depend on the kind of mood you want to create. Here's a list of the 10 most popular essential oils to use in oil burners that can improve your health and mental wellbeing.

1. Lavender essential oil

The soothing and relaxing scent of lavender oil can help reduce stress when diffused in the air.

2. Clary sage essential oil

This essential oil can help calm you. Diffusing it during stressful times can be extremely helpful.

3. Lemongrass essential oil

Besides being an effective insect repellent, lemongrass essential oil helps your stay awake and more attentive at work.

4. Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang essential oil gives you what you need to achieve a balance. It boosts your energy if you are feeling low and helps calm you if you need grounding. 

5. Bergamot essential oil

Bergamot essential oil helps promote a sense of self-confidence when you are feeling low. It gives you a sense of peace when you are stressed. 

6. Peppermint essential oil

Diffusing peppermint essential oil helps improve focus. It also helps reduce the feelings of nervous tension and stress.

7. Frankincense

Diffusing Frankincense essential oil helps to improve your attitude and elevate your spirits. It also allows you to stay focused.

8. Patchouli

Patchouli oil has a balancing and grounding effect on your emotions. It also promotes restful sleep, which in turn improves mood.

9. Wild orange

Diffusing wild orange essential oil helps to uplift mood and energy levels and also freshens the air.

10. Roman chamomile

Roman chamomile helps soothe anger and irritability. It helps to relax and calm you. 

Best essential oil burner blend recipes

Try these favorite scents to create an amazing home fragrance.

Stress relief

  • 4 drops Orange
  • 2 drops Lavender
  • 1 drop Ylang Ylang


  • 3 drops peppermint
  • 2 drops lemon
  • 3 drops wild orange

Fight fatigue

  • 5 drops bergamot
  • 3 drops grapefruit
  • 2 drops peppermint


  • 4 drops lavender 
  • 5 Drops Roman chamomile

Some FAQs about essential oil burner/ diffuser

Is it safe to use essential oils in an oil burner?

Essential oil burners are safe as long as you use them correctly. There is an element of fire as it does involve the use of a candle.

  • Always choose a safe place to put your oil burner. 
  • Make sure you don’t burn the candle after the liquid has dried up in the bowl.
  • Snuff out the candle after 40 minutes of use. 

Is it better to use an oil burner or an oil diffuser for aromatherapy?

In the Essential oil burner vs. diffuser debate, both options have their pros and cons. While oil diffusers are safer and don’t require constant monitoring, oil burners are a cheaper option. 

Oil burners and oil diffusers can both effectively provide you the benefits of essential oils, though some experts believe that heating aroma oils can change their therapeutic properties.

What are oil burners made of?

Essential oil burners are usually made up of ceramic, soapstone, or copper.

Where can I buy an oil burner?

Oil burners are pretty popular and readily available in aromatherapy stores. You can also buy oil burners online from Amazon.

What is the difference between an oil burner and an electric burner?

Small tea light candles usually power traditional oil burners. Electric oil burners have a significant safety advantage as they use electricity instead of candles. They also keep the oil in the bowl at a low temperature, ensuring longer-lasting dispersal of essential oils. 

What is the difference between oil and essential oil?

Carrier oils are also referred to as oils for short. These are fats taken from plant seeds, nuts, or kernels. They contain fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that nourish the skin. 

The essential oils are concentrated extracts of specific plants that provide beneficial properties. They are made from certain parts of the plants like leaves, herbs, barks, and rinds. 

Final thoughts – Essential oil burner vs. diffuser

Both essential oil burners and diffusers can provide therapeutic properties of the essential oil that you use in them. The only difference between these different types of diffusers is the way they dissipate the oil in the room. While oil burners are generally cheaper than diffusers, diffusers can be used while you sleep or when children are around.

In the battle of Essential oil burner vs. diffuser its largely up to personal preference.

In the end, it is the kind of essential oil and the quality of that oil that you use that is the most important. Use a good quality oil in your burner or your diffuser, and you will definitely reap the benefits. 

Best essential oil burner vs ultrasonic diffuser

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