To Diffuse or Burn?
Should you fill your house with candles or surreptitiously place scented diffusers? We've all seen those glossy magazine features, where mansions are filled with massive candles scenting every surface. But in the real world our homes (and fragrance needs) come in all shapes and sizes. So how do you choose between diffusers or candles?
First, let's look at the two main differences between diffusing and burning a fragrance:
Multi-purpose and low-maintenance, diffusers constantly waft a subtle, background scent, making it ideal for layering, immediately changing-up your fragrance game or swapping scents from room to room as the mood takes you. Brilliant to have in bedrooms, rooms less often used or an office, when you might not want a full-on fragrance surrounding you all day.
Here you get two fragrance levels: a softer scent when unlit (perhaps during the day) and a deeper level to explore when burned: with the bonus of that wonderful, soft, flickering glow around room. Excellent at creating an exquisitely soothing or comfortingly cosy atmosphere wherever they're placed.
The three most important questions to ask yourself are:
- What kind of "mood" do I want?
- How big is the space?
- How do I want to feel?
Lighting is a key factor for the mood in a room. If you want to dial that warm, flickering glow into the mood of a space at night, then scented candles are a no brainer. Pretty straightforward. If lighting doesn't come into the equation, the main criteria for choosing between a diffuser and candle become:
a. Strength of fragrance. Diffusers are great at giving a subtle, "background" fragrance but fi you'd like something more "present", a scented candle has a stronger fragrance "throw"
b. Maintenance - diffusers can be left alone (almost) to do their thing, no snuffing them out etc. They're effortless.
But the fragrance(s) you choose, whether you layer or pair with other fragrances and whether you use additional diffusers or candles will also make a big difference (check out our layering and pairing guide) to how the room will make you feel.
2. How do I want to feel
Warm and cosy? Clean and fresh? Intimate and sensual? Each and every fragrance has a different effect. If you're unsure on how a scent will make you feel, most home fragrance companies include a guide in their product descriptions (and we're always here to help if you've time to get in touch... [email protected])
You can create your very own fragrance for something a little unique (and who doesn't feel unique :-)... so it's really worth layering or pairing scents.
With scented candles and fragrance diffusers (as opposed to room sprays etc.), the size of space and ventilation is the next thing to consider...
3. Size and space
Naturally, the larger the space the more fragrance needed. Diffusers will never be strong enough to use outdoors, but the largest scented candle we make, a 2.5kg 10 wick, is easily powerful enough for entertaining in open spaces and any of our multi-wick (3 & 4 wick) candles from 650g upwards will happily scent a table for dining outdoors.
A good rule of thumb is a "standard size", 1 wick scented candle (anywhere between 180 and 220g - normally the size of a regular whiskey glass) will happily fragrance a room up to 400 square foot (20ft x 20ft). Much of this will depend on how much fragrance is in the wax. Naturally we can't speak for other brands, some will go as low as 4%, and many use fragrance-free cores (as opposed to Coreless Cleanburn) which will significantly reduce the space it can fragrance. Parks uses a 10% fragrance loading so will be good for up to 500 square foot.
For reed diffusers, think in terms of a "subtle background scent" for up to 400 square metres for spaces. Again, much will depend on the fragrance loading. To match the strength of a candle, we recommend two diffusers to fragrance one room.
For 3 examples of home fragrancing problems which may be familiar and solutions see below:
Perfuming Problems & Scent Solutions:
1. You love the light from a 3-wick candle (or even larger) candle but want more subtle fragrance in a smaller room? Go for a single-wick candle.
Why it Works: The 'throw (distance a fragrance can reach) grows with the size of candle, so smaller spaces are best suited to a single wick if you still crave that romantic ambience but don't want to be overwhelmed.
2. Working from home so need to stay focused, but your 'office' is now the living room? Try a fresh-scented and invigorating or quietly subtle diffuser by day, then bring in a warmer, cosy fragrance by night in the form of a scented candle.
Why it Works: The diffuser is unobtrusive and can sit on a shelf, subtly scenting the air and keeping your senses alert by day. Later on, layering up (or switching with) a scented candle can utterly transform that space from functional office to fabulously opulent in seconds.
3. You're addicted to the warmth and glow of a scented candle, but think they're only for winter, cold days or dark nights? It really depends on the fragrance you choose: a citrus fresh or light floral candle is a gorgeous way to spotlight certain areas of your home with scent in the summer months, too.
Why it Works: Scents are immediately evocative - one whiff of a fragrance can feel like travelling through time and space. So, if you associate woody, spicy smells with cold weather, change to lighter, brighter candle scents as the weather warms. After all - your candle isn't actually heating your house, so there's no reason to forego that glow.