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Are Reed Diffusers Better Than Candles?

Key Points 

  • Aromatherapy is an ancient holistic form of healing that involves the absorption of essential oils into peoples’ skin to ease the body and mind.
  • Candles and reed diffusers are used for aromatherapy, with candles typically being more widely used.
  • Reed diffusers and candles both have an ancient history and many similarities, but there are some key differences. 
  • Candles and reed diffusers each have their pros and cons, making it a matter of personal preference as to which is best.

Scented candles have long been a comforting staple of many households. A candle can transform the whole atmosphere of a home. Many of us love the sense of warmth and calm of our favorite scent wafting through the house and that flickering glow of the flame.

However, reed diffusers have grown in popularity. Offering an alternative to an open flame in your house, reed diffusers come with their own benefits, making you wonder: are reed diffusers better than candles?

Continue on to find out as we walk you through the pros and cons of both scented candles and reed diffusers. 


Aromatherapy is an ancient form of healing. It involves the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes. People inhale the scent molecules, which then move from the olfactory nerves to the brain – particularly the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. The oils can also be absorbed via the skin through a massage oil infused with essential oils.

Essential oils come from natural plant extracts. The scented oils can improve the health of the body and mind, as well as enhance both emotional and spiritual well-being.

There are many aromatherapy accessories, including body oil, aroma sticks, and of course reed diffusers and aromatherapy candles.

What are reed diffusers?

Most people know about candles, but reed diffusers might not be as well-known. They, like candles, have a long and interesting history.

Reed diffusers are a stylish way to freshen up your home. They do not require electricity or heat to work. A reed diffuser consists of a vessel – usually a glass bottle or jar – filled with scented essential oils and reed sticks. The essential oils are diffused into the air through the reeds. 

Reed diffusers have been used for centuries to make rooms smell nice. In fact, they were first documented in ancient Egypt, where inscriptions about perfumes mention reeds being used in oil lamps containing essential oils. 

Their use in Egypt dates back to around 2000 B.C. Egyptians would soak the reeds in scented oils or other aromatic liquids which would slowly release their scent. 

How do reed diffusers work?

A reed diffuser uses reed sticks – usually rattan – to absorb a fragrance and disperse it in the air. The liquid in the bottle is typically a blend of fragrance, oils, alcohol, and di-propylene glycol (DPG) to stabilize the scent and create a consistency that’s ideal for absorption. The reed sticks soak up the pleasant-smelling mixture, which evaporates and evenly releases the scent into the room. 

It’s important to flip the reeds over from time to time to ensure the diffuser continues to release its aroma. Flip them over when you no longer notice the smell. The more you turn your reeds, the more the fragrance will be evaporated. Just remember that the more you change them, the sooner you’ll need to replace the oils. There are a variety of diffuser scents available so you can find the one you like best.

Scented Candles 

Scented candles are proven to have an effect on our mood, stress, working capacity, and overall mental health. The scents that a candle gives off have a soothing effect on our physiology.

Candles, like reed diffusers, have a variety of purposes. This has been the case for a long time – more than 5000 years, actually. The Egyptians used wicked candles as early as 3000 B.C. However, the Romans get the credit for developing it before that time. Candles were used in ancient times to light homes, help travellers at night, and for religious ceremonies. 

Now, candles are primarily used for relaxation and comfort. Still, they have many other uses: 

  • Rituals
  • Light source
  • Cleansing 
  • Healing
  • Mood setting 

So, candles have an older and more well-known history and are more popular than reed diffusers. But, are candles better than reed diffusers? 

Reed Diffusers vs. Candles 

If you could use some aromatherapy in your life, or you’re just wondering what will make your house smell better, candles and reed diffusers are both good options. Let’s take a look at how the two stack up against each other so you can choose which is best for you

We’ll compare reed diffusers to candles in several categories, indicate the winner of each, and then declare the overall champion at the end of this article. 

Which provides a better ambience?

Nothing beats the soft glow and delightful scent that radiates from a candle. Whether you’re soaking in a hot bubble bath with candles lining the tub, or setting the mood for an intimate evening, candles can set the vibe.

A reed diffuser, on the other hand, will provide an olfactory experience without the same atmosphere a candle can create. A lavender-scented diffuser at your bedside will definitely set the tone for a relaxing sleep, but it just doesn’t provide the same ambience that a candle does.

It’s no contest; candles take this category. 

Candles: 1

Reed Diffusers: 0

Fragrance: Do reed diffusers work better than candles? 

If you’re looking for a more intense fragrance, you’ll want a candle. Even though the heat from the flame can separate the essential oils, making them less effective therapeutically, that heat produces a stronger smell than a reed diffuser.

That being said, a reed diffuser is more likely to release a more stable fragrance for a longer period – as long as you flip the reed sticks regularly. Additionally, the intensity of the scent can be adjusted by adding or removing reeds.

Since both candles and diffusers perform similarly in this category, let’s call it a tie.

Candles: 2
Reed Diffusers: 1 

Longevity: How long do they last? 

On average, reed diffusers can last up to six months. Of course, this is dependent upon the quality of your reed diffuser. At 96NORTH, we have reed diffusers that’ll last even longer. You also don’t need to worry about the strength of the scent fading over time. Just be sure to follow the care and maintenance instructions that come with your diffuser. 

The longevity of a candle obviously depends on how often you burn it. Typically, a 4oz candle will burn for 20-25 hours, while an 8oz candle will last about 40 hours. The average burn time for a 12 oz candle is approximately 80 hours. Unfortunately, the scent will fade with time as the molecules of fragrance oil slowly evaporate from the wax into the air, even when they’re not burning.

Diffusers for the win on duration! 

Candles: 2

Reed Diffusers: 2 

Cost: Are candles cheaper than reed diffusers? 

The price of a candle can vary widely. While aromatherapy candles cost more than traditional candles, there are other factors to consider when you’re considering the cost. The brand of the candle has a big impact on price, as do size and quality. 

The price of a candle can range anywhere from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds. Some luxury brands sell candles for £750 – that’s with a container embellished with real gold, mind you. 

The cost of reed diffusers also varies. The price of a reed diffuser depends on the design, brand, and size. You can buy a whole reed diffuser setup – jar, fragrance, and reeds – for under £10. However, you also have the option to splurge on a nicer reed diffuser and only pay for refills of the reed sticks and fragrance when needed.

Since there are candles and reed diffusers for every budget, this one’s a tie.

Candles: 3

Reed Diffusers: 3

Safety: Are reed diffusers safer than candles? 

Reed diffusers are (obviously) safer than candles. There’s no flame so there’s no fire hazard with reed diffusers. This also means that there’s no smoke like there is with candles. Reed diffusers neither emit heat nor require electricity, making it safe to leave them in your house unattended. 

This is not the case for candles. Not only do candles pose a fire risk, but they also emit heat and smoke, making them unsafe for children and pets – not to mention people with allergies. The hot, melted wax is another potential danger. 

In terms of safety, it’s reed diffusers hands down. 

Candles: 3

Reed diffusers: 4

Visual Appeal: Which one looks better?

Both candles and reed diffusers make a fabulous finishing touch, adding a sleek, stylish element to any room in your home. With such a broad spectrum of colours, designs, sizes, and shapes, there’s a candle or reed diffuser to accent your interior. 

For candles, it’s as simple as selecting the right candle holder for your aesthetic. It could be a rustic wooden piece or have a more modern minimalist feel. Reed diffusers will always have the wooden reeds poking out, but the vessel you choose can be totally unique. 

Considering their versatility as a home decor piece, it’s another tie.

Candles: 4

Reed Diffusers: 5

Sensory Experience: Which one awakens the senses?

While reed diffusers sit on the shelf or table invisibly distributing your favourite aroma, candles engage more than just your olfactory senses. 

The subtle flickering flame illuminates the room, drawing your gaze to the shadows dancing on the wall while a gentle warmth surrounds you. A candle provides a fuller sensory experience from the ritualistic act of lighting it to the moment we blow it out.

Unsurprisingly, candles win this one.

Candles: 5 

Reed Diffusers: 5

The Verdict: Reed Diffusers or Scented Candles?

As it turns out, there’s no real winner after all. The reality is that it’s a personal choice based on your lifestyle or the particular situation. Both candles and reed diffusers have their pros and cons. If you have a family and pets and are out of the house a lot, you might opt for reed diffusers. They’re safer, last longer, and can be left unattended. Plus, the placement options are unlimited.

If, however, you crave a more intense fragrance and can’t live without the visual experience and ambience of a dancing flame, a candle is the way to go. The soft light combined with the succulent scent really soothe the senses. 

Still undecided? Try both and find out what you like the most. 96NORTH has a delicious selection of all-natural candles and sleek reed diffusers. Whatever your preference, indulge yourself.


Why do reed diffusers stop smelling?

If your reed diffuser doesn’t smell as strong as it used to, there are a few things you can do. Try flipping the reed sticks or adding more. Additionally, swirl the bottle to mix the ingredients in the oil.

Are reed diffusers worth it?

We think so! The fragrance lasts longer than a candle, they can be placed anywhere in the home, and they provide a natural, constant balance in the potency of their scent.

Which candles are toxic?

It’s suspected that candles made from paraffin or gel can be toxic. These ingredients are derived from petroleum and thus, release toxic chemicals into the air over time.

What type of candle is most popular?

Currently in the USA, container and jar candles are the most popular types of candles.