Friday, September 16, 2011

Wax Warmers and Burners FAQs!

My electric warmer.
A lot of people are unsure about the different kinds of warmers and burners, and have asked about the pros and cons of each. For some reason it didn't occur to make a post about them until now. So due to a special request, I'm going to try to answer all the questions that I have been asked.

If I miss anything, please let me know!

What kinds of tart melters are there? 
There are two general categories of wax melters. Electric, and Tealight.
Dish can come off to easy cleaning
Electric warmers come in a few different varieties.
The most common (and the type I own) comes in a flat heating pad on a raised base (that can also couple as a candle warmer) with a dish on top that hold the wax.
There are also warmers that have a light bulb as the heat source. I personally don't want to have to replace light bulbs and aren't convinced of their quality so I haven't purchased one myself. I think these are sold and very popular with Scentsy products (I have never purchased Scentsy before, but have looked through their catalog).
I don't own this, just an example of what it looks like.
The last electric warmer (that I'm familiar with) is the kind that plugs into the wall. I've seen them, but I don't buy them because I think they are the least safe. Something about hot wax hanging off the wall seems like a bad idea. Add in a clumsy couple, with a curious, energetic cat, and you have a recipe for an enormous mess.

Burner with glass dish (I do not own this)

Tealight Burners require a tealight candle to be placed in the base, with the wax (or scented oil) in the reservoir directly above the flame. They can come in either a ceramic unit, or one with a glass bowl. I don't buy burners with a glass dish because it can cloud, discolor, or get sooty. (Which is far less noticeable in a ceramic unit.)
owl warmer has the best ambiance
Also, lower quality burners can have the glass too close to the flame which can cause it to crack or break.

I have a bunch of ceramic tealight burners because I love the ambiance, they are much more mobile, and don't have to be attached to the wall.  Although it is worthy to note; these are much more of a fire hazard and can burn quite a bit hotter than their electric counterparts.

Is there a difference between a warmer and a burner?
Technically I don't think so. Personally I consider the electric types a warmer and tealight types a burner. Electric warms the wax with either a heated pad or light bulb. The tealight is an open flame that literally burns to melt the wax. I try to specify which is which, but I think most people use the two terms intermittently.
The term "melter" is also applied to both.

Tealight candle goes in the back
So which is better?
 Well that depends. If safety is your main concern then electric is the way to go. Downside is that you are literally tethered to a wall, and for some reason the cords seem to be very short. (Not that I would want a mile long cord but it doesn't give you a lot of placement options) Burners can be put anywhere, even places where water may be involved (without fear of getting zapped) like a bathroom.  If you are looking for ambiance to go with your scent I prefer tealights.
I love my tealight burner for relaxing bubble bath time.
(I hope thats not TMI!)

Do you get a better scent from one or the other?
I've heard different opinions on this subject, but here's mine....
Side by side comparison of reservoir size.
Electric warmers generally have a larger wax pool (the wider the wax pool the more scent that is available to release into the air) and burn more evenly. The scent tends to last a bit longer, but doesn't burn quite as hot.
Tealight burners are much more variable. I have noticed with a good quality burner, that you get a burst of fragrance very quickly. The scent will be much more intense, but then won't last quite as long.

Tealight burner from Yankee

How do I clean them?
The majority of the electric warmers have a seperate dish on the top that can be removed. (Same with the removable glass dish in a tealight burner.) It's great to toss in the freezer to remove the wax. You can wash the dish without having to worry about the base unit being near water.
The ceramic warmer can be a bit more cumbersome and will require you to have more room in your freezer. But other than that they are also easy to clean.

What should I look for when I'm ready to purchase?
This one tends to get extremely hot
If your in the market for an electric warmer I recommend the candle warmer/wax melter combo. I haven't used mine to warm a candle yet but it's nice to know I have the option.
The one I have has a light on the front so you always know if it's turned on or off. Which can be really handy if I'm getting ready to go to bed and can't remember if I flipped the switch. (many people leave theirs on 24/7 but my cat can't be trusted, so it always goes off at night) Although when I look for my next one, I will try to find one with a longer cord. I would like to keep one in my bedroom, but the only place out of my cat's reach is my dresser, and the cord doesn't reach. (I'm a bit nervous about using an extension cord).
This one also overheats and smokes.
You have to be a little more careful with tealight burners.  If the glass is too close to the flame it can overheat, then crack or break (I have heard of this happening with lower quality burners).
The same issues apply to the ceramic burners.  If the wax resevoir is too close to the flame it can cause the wax to smoke or damage the unit. If the resevoir is too far from the flame the wax doesn't burn well and will tend to solidify at the outer edges of the bowl.
My red one (and favorite) is the one  I bought from Yankee Candle  during their semi annual sale. They had a bunch for 5 bucks, which is a bargain considering their quality.
I have a few I purchased off of amazon and other websites. I have noticed that some of these get way too hot and have almost burned myself more than once. The wax also can smoke quite a bit in these. (not black smoke, but a hot wispy steam type)
Sadly I have had a hard time determining the quality of tealight burners until after I have tried them. Not to mention, it is not always the burner itself, sometimes the tealights you put in the bottom make a huge difference.

 These three tealight burners came as a set!

I hope this helps! I try to be thorough, but if you have any questions I may have missed please let me know. I would be happy to answer and add them here.
  Happy melting!


  1. Thank you so much, this is very helpful. Think I'm going to purchase an electric candle warmer/wax melter combo. I have a small tealight burner but I keep running out of tealights so quickly.

  2. Thank you for this info. I learned a lot. I like the electric ones better myself. I have curious cats too.

  3. You can also clean them- the two part electric at least- by dumping and then wiping the bowl with a paper towel. I do this because I don't want to have to wait for it to harden and then freeze it before I melt another tart.
    LOL- my friend started my tart addiction with a tea light burner but I just found the electric ones so much easier and with no flame so much safer, but I didn't tell her and for my birthday last month she bought me a plug in and I pretended I had no idea what it was!

  4. Hi Ms Unicorn!
    I have heard of other people doing this. Not something I do myself, mostly because I'm really clumsy and I try not to handle my warmers with hot wax in them.
    Is the paper towel enough to get it clean or do you have to wash it as well?
    Cute story about the warmer. Friend of my just bought her first tealight burner a couple weeks ago :)

  5. Have you tried Scentsy yet? It's a wickless candle warming system that is a great alternative to using tart burners/traditional candles/anything with a flame. And this month, they've launched the new "warmer of the month" and it's a porcelain owl! It's adorable! It's also available 10% off ;)

  6. The hot plate warmer duo with the bowl was my first warmer back in 2013.....I have used it manyyy times and it still works wonderfully......I've bought a few light bulb warmers and I do notice that the scent of the wax melts last like the hot plate warmer....but I loveeeee my tealight warmers also....they give you a quicker melt & instant fragrance.....yes it do seem to run out of fragrance... But like for five hours later......depending on the wax brand your melting.....some last even longer....especially from check her love love her wax....and she makes the most prettiest candles....also follow on on Instagram and see her work for yourself........I use wal-mart tea lights and they burn for 4 hrs!!! when it goes out I put another one and get more it depends on what you like.....but in my opinion they are both good.....I use my tealight warmer more when melting though

  7. Thanks for your input Nicole, I have recently purchased a warmer and I don't know when I should change the melted wax. I can still smell the fragrance but it isn't as loud as when I first used it and the fragrance seems to have faded quite a bit but there is still plenty of wax left in the warmer? When do I change the wax? Does it completely dissolve eventually? I feel anxious about adding a new fragrance but don't want to waste what is still there, so how do you know when to change it? Thanks for your time and attention;)

  8. Any tea light burner with the dish closer to the flame is NOT meant for wax. Those are oil warmers. I don't know why, but it seems like I heard somewhere that melting wax in an oil warmer can cause it to crack. The picture you have of the metal and glass dish is an oil warmer.

  9. It's good to know about your experience with these warmers. I'm also glad to know I can conveniently buy through Walmart a quality Fragrance like Better Homes and Garden. And, good advice on leaving the room for awhile and upon return, noticing if the Fragrance is there. This will be convenient for me since I go to the Business Area of my Apartment Complex to use Wifi. Thanks for your time responding to my questions:)

  10. I hadn't heard that about oil warmers cracking if used with wax. The one I have is still fine after years of use.
    If you have any documentation of your claim I'd love to see it.

  11. I purchased some tesco melts but it says they can only be used with an electric burner - what would happen if used with a teal light burner do you happen to know? Many thanks!

    1. Hi, I was looking for the answer to this too. Does anybody know what would happen if I melted them on a tea light burner please?

  12. If you want to change scents before your wax runs out of fragrance, you can pour it back into the plastic clamshell package and let it re-harden to re-use it! I have done this with my scentsy cubes and it is safe.

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  14. Hi! All these tips are so helpful! I love the red one with the light, in your first couple pictures! Do you mind sharing where you got it?

    Thanks!! (:

  15. Hi, Thank you for all your helpful info. As of now, I only use tealight burners (& have sooo many of them since I keep find adorable ones that I think I need lmao), but I'm going to get an electric one. I wasn't sure which type was the better, the light bulb or hot plate style. I have a 16 month old baby that thinks he is a monkey. I never leave him alone in a room with wax melting, but I think the electric ones will be a better & safer option. He seems to be attracted to the flickering light that the tealight burner gives, & those can stay hot for quite awhile after the tealight is out.

  16. Thank you for your help! However, I was curious about something that you didn't quite cover. I had an "all in one" electric warmer which I dropped and cracked so I had to buy another one. I ended up buying the type that has the removable top. I personally felt that the "all in one" melts the melts quicker and hotter so the scent is more intense. I find the one with the removable dish to be less intense. You talked about this in the difference between a burner and an electric warmer. Is it just me, or do you believe the 'all in one" would get hotter, therefore give off a more intense scent - like the burner?

  17. Can the paper Scent Bursts from better homes and gardens be used in a bulb warmer? I have a large Scentsy bulb warmer that uses one 25w bulb. The warmer gets hot enough to melt two or three wax cubes pretty quickly, but it doesn't get too hot...For example, I can pick up the entire unit or just the tray after it's been on for several hours and it doesn't burn me. I've seen a couple people say that the paper scent bursts are not to be used in bulb warmers, however there is no warning listed on the two bags that I purchased. It just says for use in all electric warmers. I would consider a more warmer to be an electric warmer, however, I'd just want to make sure that it's safe because of the few people that have commented that should not be used this way. What is your opinion? I hope this isn't too dumb of a question :)

    1. Correction to typo! At the end, it should say "I would consider a BULB warmer to be an electric warmer" LOL! Not a more warmer

  18. Hi. Shocked I have a question you didn't answer given that you covered everything else so brilliantly! Have a couple new electric warmers, and the bottoms are downright hot, which means the surface on which they're sitting gets hot. Do I need to get trivets? If so, made of what (e.g., cast iron, cork, sandstone). Looking forward to your response

  19. My electric warmer smokes from wax being hot it’s new?!? I use cotton balls to remove hot wax it soaks it up no mess when I change my old to new!