Using an Oil Warmer

My candle-powered oil warmer

As we know, magical incenses frequently have a smell of burning leaves and can billow smoke, which is certainly not always a desirable thing when your magical space is a tiny little room…especially a tiny little room where you also live.

I’m finding that a good alternative is the use of an oil warmer, which allows you to heat up straight essential oils.  As the base heats up, the oils vaporize and slightly smoke out into the air, giving it a pure scent.

Using one of these warmers is ridiculously easy, but there are a few points to keep in mind.

First, pay attention to where the oil warmer will be placed.  Since it will use an open flame, make sure the warmer is placed in a clutter-free area with good air flow.  Secondly, fill the dish of the warmer with water and a few drops of essential oil and set the dish off the warmer itself.  Removing the dish from the warmer will help it to keep from breaking if the candle flame runs too high and hot after lighting it.  It may seem a little odd to use water.  You can, of course, use straight oil, but filling the reservoir with essential oil would be wasteful and would completely overpower the room.  Filling it with a base oil could be done, but I’ve found that the base scent overpowers the essential oil scent after a little while.  Unfortunately, it can leave the room smelling like a kitchen.  Water is cheap, free of other scents, and–surprisingly enough–won’t get as scorchingly hot as oil, so the essential oils will diffuse longer.

When those two points are done, light an unscented tea candle and place it in the burner.  When the candle flame regulates, place the oil dish back on the burner.  Within a few minutes, the water will heat up and the scent of the oil will start diffusing through the room.

It is, of course, imperative to check the oil warmer periodically, since the warming dish could crack or explode after the water evaporates.  If it completely evaporates, any oil residue might also burn and adhere to the dish, and that’s practically impossible to clean.  (If this happens, the only thing I’ve found that works is scrubbing the residue with Barkeeper’s Friend cleaner.  Comet might also work.)  If the warmer begins to flat out smoke at any time, immediately extinguish the candle, let the oil cool down, clean the warmer as best you can, and change out the tea light.

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4 thoughts on “Using an Oil Warmer

  1. I just did this with lavender and eucalyptus EO in one part of my house, and linen fragrance oil in another part of my house. This works great, and is WAY cheaper than with a carrier oil (which I just ran out of.) Thanks!

  2. My oil warmer keeps smoking and I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried mixing water and oil. I just don’t know what to do. We got the oils from Walmart and the burner separately.

    • Whatever your setup, the oils are smoking because the temperature is higher than their smokepoint. The best fix would be to find a way to lower the temperature. If you’re using a candle set up, make sure you’re using tea lights instead of votives (further distance from oil cup), and make sure the flame on the candle stays pretty small. Alternately, add insulators to the oil cup. Perhaps placing the oils in a smaller glass cup or something within the primary cup would work.

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