September 5, 2019


Candles are a fantastic way of bringing some beautiful diverse smells to your home. However, there are alternatives to candles and ones that are equally strong. Most of the alternatives require the burning of the flame to create a heat based smell but there are some options that allow for fragrance creation without the inclusion of any flame.

Wax Melts

A common feature of the alternatives to candles are wax melts. Also known as wax tarts. These are small shapes created using fragranced wax and colouring. You can get wax melts in many shapes and sizes, and they are identifiable as not having a wick like you find in candles. To use Wax Melts, you will need a melt burner. This is an ornament that is normally made of ceramic and features a large bowl type dish on top with a cavern underneath. The bowl on top is designed to hold the wax melt, and the cavern under this is designed to hold a single tea light. When the tealight is lit it creates heat on the bowl that melts down the wax releasing the smell and spreading it around the room. Wax melts are generally cheaper than candles and can sometimes be used with multiple tealights to maximise their use. When the melt is finished you can push the pool of wax out and replace it with a new melt.


A legend of the home fragrance and a common in the alternatives to candles list is incense. With a history that goes back thousands of years. Incense are thin strips of wood that are rolled in a natural resin that is soaked in fragrance oil. The incense is then left to dry for a couple of days. The best incense tends to come from India that has been a home to incense for as long as it has been in existence. It is possible to get incense from multiple sources but many of these alternative options are manufacturer or produced using machines. The difference between natural hand rolled incense and machine rolled incense can be found in two features. Hand rolled incense tends to be dustier than manufactured incense. This is because the wooden core is rolled in resign until a good mount has stuck to the stick. Whereas manufactured incense is rolled and compressed using machines. Second is in the fragrance. Manufactured incense has a more chemical or unnatural fragrance compared to hand rolled incense. This is most noticeable on the nose where manufactured incense can have too potent a fragrance.

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There is a second important difference between hand rolled and manufactured incense. As you can imagine manufactured incense is produced in huge quantities in a factory with all the waste and environmental damage you would imagine. Hand rolled incense is a very different process. Most hand rolled incense is done using natural, locally sourced ingredients to where they are produced. The people involved are generally families or small communities in villages and small towns that work together to roll thousands of incense a day. With earnings from the incense going back to the families. This local source and community earning potential is the main reason that all incense from The Penseth Company is hand rolled.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

A fairly new entrant into the home fragrance market, are ultrasonic humidifiers. These are a high tech alternative with zero flames. With an ultrasonic humidifier, you fill the device with some water and a few drops of fragrance oil. Then plug it into the wall and turn on. The high tech mechanism spins the water and fragrance oil and through an ultrasonic process turns this mixture into a fine mist that is blown from the top of the humidifier. The physical effects are volcanic like and beautiful and the smell is as powerful as any candle that you could burn.

These devices are still new to the market and there are a lot in the market. Finding the right device for you is based on two characteristics. The design of the humidifier and the style of the material. There are wood effects, modern light modes, and elegantly designed options. The pricing is also still working itself out and you should shop around until you find the right device for you. Once you have the device there are a million and one fragrance oils that you can find to use in your humidifier.


The final option in our list of alternatives to candles are diffusers. These are glass bottles filled with fragrance and wooden cores that rest half in the liquid and half out. These wooden cores absorb the fragrance liquid from the submerged half and spreads this along the core to the half that is open to the air. This portion of the wood then passes that smell out into the air around. Though the least potent of our options, diffusers can be a great accessory to any home décor plan. With an equally large range of fragrances, colours, and styles. You will be able to find the ideal diffuser for your living space by doing some shopping around.

Alternatives to Candles

There you have it, my list of alternatives to candles. Whether you decide to go for a wax melt, ultrasonic humidifier or some good old fashioned incense. There are many alternatives to candles and they come at a range of price points. Beyond personal preference and safety issues associated with burning flames or heated wax, you should always find the fragrance and style that suits you. We are all different and there are home fragrance options to suit our needs, our homes, and our tenancy agreements. Plus using any of these is not exclusive to the insides of our homes. During hot days you can use any of these options outside on your patio table, BBQ, or even on a wall. The smell will spread across your garden with some fragrances even have the potential to keep bugs away.

About the Author

I'm the Chief Candle Maker here at Penseth Company. I also write guides and updates for the blog.

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