What is the best base to Use in a Tea Light Diffuser:
                       Water, Fixed oil or Wax?

by Penny Keay © 2009

With the return of everyone to more indoor living most of us like to make it feel more warm and cozy, especially as the nights get longer, darker and colder, we seek things that will make us feel content.

One way to make it cozy is by using a Tealight diffusers. Everyone loves to see a little flicker of candle light as you enjoy a quiet evening. Adding a wonderful and enjoyable scent makes it even more so.

We were recently posed the question as to the advantages and disadvantages of using water or a fixed oil in a tea light style diffuser. Another option is using wax tarts.

For the most part it is a personal preference, but if we were asked what our preference would be in a Tea Light Diffuser it would be wax. The use of soy bees wax tart wax blend is our preferred method. But that is our preference.

Of course, always follow the manufacturer recommendation, as if you don’t and the tealight diffuser is damaged or breaks you will be at fault, not them.

First thing to know is that a candle burns very hot. Did you know the blue part of the flame the temperature reaches almost 2500 degrees Fahrenheit? The orange-yellow part of the flame can be over 1400 degrees!! Wow. Of course the further you are away from the flame the cooler it gets. And does so fairly quickly.

But Candles are hot and when the flame is constant, as it will be under your bowl of your diffuser, they can make surfaces become very hot – hot enough to cause burns and blisters. So no matter what you use for the liquid in your tealight diffuser be aware it can spill and cause burns.

ALWAYS keep CANDLES and HOT DIFFUSERS AWAY from Children and Pets.

Now on to the advantages and disadvantages of each of the base liquids that can be used in a tealight diffuser.

Advantages: water is cheap. You can use it out of the tap or buy distilled water. It heats quickly and will start to diffuse your essential oils that have been placed in the bowl with the water quickly too.
Disadvantages: It evaporates quickly. When the water is gone and the flame remains, the bowl will be more susceptible to breakage or damage. Essential oils that remain can scorch or bake on the surface of the bowl. The water can get very hot and can even come to a boil. This is not the best for your precious essential oils. You have to let the tea light diffuser cool completely before adding more water and essential oils. Clean up of your diffuser can be a nightmare if oils are scorched on the surface.

Fixed Oils
Advantages: Fixed oils are relatively inexpensive. They heat fairly quickly depending on the fixed oil used. They will diffuse the essential oils mixed with them over a longer period of time. You can add more essential oils to the warmed oil without needing to cool the diffuser.
Disadvantages: Fixed oils can become very hot and if spilled on surfaces including your skin can cause damage. Some Fixed oils will smoke even with the heat of a candle and can distort the smell of the oils you are diffusing. Although rare – they could catch on fire. Just like a frying pan on the stove top can when there is too much fat. Clean up is harder as fixed oils have to be washed out with hot soapy water and some diffuser models may not allow submersion in water.

Wax tarts
Advantages: Relatively inexpensive. They melt easily and will diffuse the essential oils mixed with them over a longer period of time than water or fixed oils. They can be reused over and over just add more essential oils as desired. Eventually the wax will evaporate over a very long period of time. Essential oils can be added while the wax is hot. Clean up is easy once the wax has re-hardened. Simply pop it out of the bowl with a wooden spoon.
Disadvantages: Although the wax can get hot and cause burns it is one of the only disadvantages to using wax in your tealight diffuser. Of course spilling hot wax on the floor is not easy to clean until it hardens.

Some tealight diffusers should be monitored closely, no matter what liquid you use. If the liquid get to the point of boiling or smoking then you may have a poorly designed tealight diffuser or you are not following the manufacturer directions.

All tealight diffusers should be have the tea light candle extinguished after 2 hours of diffusing. Once you start to smell the essential oils in the room you can put out the candle and the heat of the warmed liquids will continue to diffuse the oils into the air for quite a while.

Think Safety first, but do enjoy the special ambience the flicker of a candle and the beautiful scent of the essential oils that can give you much pleasure during the long winter nights ahead.

Even though we enjoy candles (unscented ones) we prefer to diffuse our essential oils by other methods, but again, it is a personal preference as to how you diffuse your essential oils. No matter how you diffuse those beautiful oils, they make a long winter night much more enjoyable!

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