Have you ever wondered whether you can use pure fragrance oils in a wax warmer? You’re not alone! Many people ask us whether fragrance oils are safe to use in a wax tart warmer. There are conflicting opinions on whether you can put fragrance in a wax warmer, so there is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer. In this blog, we’ll cover what you need to know about safely using fragrances in a wax melter.
Is it safe to use fragrances in a wax warmer?
If you have a favorite fragrance oil, placing it in a wax warmer seems like the simplest way to fill your home with fragrance. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using fragrances in a wax warmer:
- Fragrances are oil-based, and are therefore flammable in their pure, undiluted state.
- Not all wax warmers are designed to heat oils.
- Pure, undiluted fragrances can smell overpoweringly strong when heated, and not all fragrances are intended to be used this way.
We will cover all these points in more detail so you can make an informed decision about using fragrances in a wax warmer.
1. Fragrances are Oil Based
Fragrance oils are composed of synthetic and natural ingredients. The exact composition of ingredients will vary depending on the fragrance. In any case, fragrances are oil-based. And like most other oil-based substances (including essential oils), fragrances are flammable in their pure, undiluted state.
Once you mix fragrances with wax to make a candle or wax melt, the concentration of fragrance oil is much lower, making it safe to burn with a wick or melt in a wax warmer. However, undiluted fragrance oils can potentially light on fire if you expose them to an open flame or a source of ignition. You can read more about this in our blog Flash Points 101, which we recommend to anyone who is new to fragrance oils.
Some wax warmers – such as tealight-powered wax warmers – use an open flame. Even if your tealight wax warmer has a secure dish for warming your oils, it’s not advisable to use fragrance oils that close to an open flame. We discourage you from using pure fragrance oils in a tealight-powered wax warmer.
Electric wax warmers are far less likely to cause a fire if oil happens to come in contact with the heating element. However, any oil that spills onto the heating element/bulb or other electrical parts can cause damage to your wax warmer.
2. Not all Wax Warmers are Designed for Pure Fragrance Oils
As mentioned above, electric wax warmers are safer to use than tealight wax warmers if you intend to use pure, undiluted fragrance oils. However, there are a few things to consider before getting started.
It’s always a good idea to check with the manufacturer of your wax warmer or read the instruction manual first. Some warmers are designed to be used with liquid oils. If the manual says you can use liquid oils, then go for it.
It's important to consider that you may actually void your product warranty if you use pure oils against the manufacturer’s instructions. Many wax warmers are only meant to be used with wax tarts and wax melts. In fact, you may find that the instruction manual specifically tells you not to use liquid oils in your wax warmer.In the event that your wax warmer became damaged by using pure oils, you would not be able to use your product warranty.
Aside from being a potential fire hazard, heating pure oils can also be a risk for burning yourself or causing damage to other items in your home. Fragrance oils can get very hot when they are heated. If any oil were to splash out of the dish, it could cause burns to your skin and potentially damage the surface that the wax warmer is sitting on.
Because wax melts become liquid when you use them, you might be wondering how this differs from using a liquid oil. The most important difference is that wax cools almost instantly when it spills. In most cases, spilled wax can simply be chipped off once it hardens. And while it’s still somewhat difficult to clean up, spilled wax will not spread and get everywhere like spilled oil would.
Lastly, oils can be messy to clean out of a wax warmer. When oil is heated, some of it will evaporate and disperse into the air. However, it won’t all evaporate. Whatever is left in the warming dish can leave a residue on your wax warmer. Each fragrance may behave differently, but it’s still important to consider that cleanup may be messy.
3. Pure Fragrances Can Smell Too Strong When Heated
Our fragrance oils are highly concentrated so that they smell strong when you use them in candles, wax melts, and other projects. When you open a bottle of fragrance, you can smell how powerful it is in its pure form. However, fragrances smell even stronger when they are heated.
This is of course the point when making candles and wax melts, but the scent can be overpowering if you were to heat pure fragrance oils. Fragrances are generally not meant to be used this way. If you are sensitive to fragrances, heating pure fragrance oils will likely create an overwhelming scent. Even if it’s your favorite fragrance, there can be too much of a good thing. When a scent is too strong, it can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, and other negative side effects you’ll want to avoid.
Can I dilute fragrances with wax or a carrier oil?
Adding pure fragrances to a wax warmer is something we don't generally recommend for the reasons outlined above. However, you might be wondering whether you can make it safer by mixing the fragrances with a carrier oil. A carrier oil is an unscented oil that is used to dilute a fragrance oil or essential oil, making it less potent. Carrier oils are usually used as a method for diluting essential oils before applying them to your skin. However, carrier oils can also be used in formulas that are not used on your skin.
If using carrier oils to dilute fragrances for a wax warmer, you’ll just want to keep in mind that you’re still working with an oil-based formula. All of the safety concerns regarding flammability, potential burns/damage, and messy cleanup will still apply.
What about adding unscented wax to your wax warmer to dilute the oil? Given that wax melts are made of little more than wax and fragrance, you might find that melting regular wax with your fragrance works for you.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the fragrance may not bind with the wax fully unless the wax gets hot enough. When making wax melts with tart wax such as C55, you always want to heat the wax to 200 degrees F or greater before mixing in the fragrance oil. Not only does this help with scent throw, it also ensures that the fragrance binds to the wax molecules.
It’s not necessarily unsafe to melt unscented wax with fragrance oils in your wax warmer. However, just keep in mind that the fragrance may not be fully blended with the wax even if it all appears to melt together.
Can I use essential oils in a wax warmer?
Essential oils are made from pure plant extracts, whereas fragrance oils are made from a blend of natural and synthetic ingredients. Because essential oils don’t include solvents or other chemical ingredients, you might be wondering whether they are safer to use in wax warmers. However, you should follow the same safety precautions for using essential oils in a wax warmer that you would follow for fragrance oils.
In fact, many essential oils have a lower flash point than fragrance oils. This means the possibility of causing a fire is actually higher when using essential oils in a wax warmer – particularly a wax warmer with an open flame. As with fragrance oils, essential oil flash points will vary depending on the oil you are using.
Like fragrance oils, essential oils can also be difficult to clean out of a wax warmer. And similarly, the scent can be overpowering if you use undiluted essential oils in a wax melter.
The Bottom Line
Should you use pure fragrance oils in a wax warmer? While we generally advise against it for the reasons outlined in this blog, you may ultimately find that adding fragrance to a wax warmer does work for you. If you do still want to use fragrances or essential oils in a wax warmer, please exercise caution and be mindful of the safety considerations covered in this post.
Safe Ways to Use Undiluted Fragrance Oils
Adding pure fragrance oils to a wax warmer might seem like the easiest way to freshen up your home with a new scent. However, there are lots of super simple ways to use fragrance oils around your home. If you’re looking for an instant scent boost, try these methods:
- Add a drop or two of fragrance oil to a paper towel and place it near a vent in your house. Be careful not to place it on a porous surface that may be stained.
- Put a couple drops of fragrance oil onto a piece of felt or other fabric, then hang it in your closet for a simple air freshener. Just be sure the oil is dry before letting it come in contact with clothing or other porous surfaces.
- Make some easy scented pinecones by adding a few drops of fragrance oil to some pinecones.
Looking for another super easy project? Mix fragrance oil with some Body & Room Spray Base to create an easy DIY air freshener. It requires slightly more effort than the tricks above, but still takes just a few minutes!
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