Oil Lamps Vs. Candles: Which Is Better?

Oil Lamps Vs. Candles: Which Is Better?

Posted by Jerika on Sep 8th 2021

It’s no secret that here at The Lamp Stand we love our Fragrance Oil Lamps. They gave us our start and we love how efficient they are at filling a room with amazing scents.

However, I will be the first to admit that before I worked with The Lamp Stand, I’d never heard of a catalytic lamp. 

I quickly found out that I wasn’t alone, it seems that despite being invented in the 1800s, catalytic lamps have remained fairly unknown to the public at large.

To help change that, today we are going to compare the two titans of our industry: Fragrance Oil Lamps vs. Candles. We’ll weigh their pros and cons and help you decide which product is right for your home.

Candles vs. Oil Lamps Basics

How do they work?

There is a lot to love about both candles and catalytic lamps. They both have the same purpose of making our homes smell inviting, but they go about it in two very different ways.

Candles warm wax, pulling the essential oils up through the wick to fill the room with the scent.

Fragrance oil lamps heat a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and essential oils. 

During this process, the alcohol causes a chemical reaction that burns up odor-causing bacteria in the air.

The Lamp Stand Candles vs. Oil Lamps

What are they made of?

The lamp part of a catalytic lamp is made from a plethora of materials, but the most popular one is glass. 

Glass is used for the majority of the lamps we sell, including the Sophia’s, La Tee Da, and Lampe Berger.

The fuel, or ‘fragrance oil’, part of the lamp is made from a blend of essential oils and isopropyl alcohol.

For candles, this is a more complicated question. 

Candle jars can be made from almost anything, including stoneware, glass, and even wood if the wicks are placed strategically, like with Himalayan tree bark candle.

There are three main types of candle wax, paraffin, soy, and beeswax. 

Most candles are made from a blend of at least two of these, though there are candles made from 100% one type of wax.

Root Candles

Beeswax and soy wax are considered ‘natural’ waxes, as they are harvested from plants or beehives. Paraffin wax, however, is made from petroleum.

Today, most candles are a blend of at least partially soy, as it is the most affordable wax option and is a renewable, sustainable resource.

Candle Pros and Cons


Low maintenance

Candles require a brief wick trim each time you light them and keep the wax clear of debris. Other than that, they don’t need any attention.

Longer Lifespan

Candles don’t really expire. I have candles that are years old that still fill a room with good smells when lit.

Made with natural materials

Many candles are made using 100% soy or beeswax, which are both sustainable resources.


Some produce soot

While the beeswax and soy candles mentioned above do not produce soot, candles made with paraffin may produce soot that can aggravate allergies.

Cover scents but do not remove them

Candles are designed to cover up unpleasant smells, but most cannot remove those smells from the air.

Catalytic Lamp Pros and Cons


Eliminates odor-causing bacteria

Catalytic lamps were designed to purify the air. They actively destroy odor-causing bacteria to leave air smelling cleaner even after the lamp goes out.

Work quickly

On average, a fragrance oil lamp can fill a room within 20 minutes.

Longer burn time

Effusion lamps are only on for about 20 minutes at a time. Comparing how much oil is required to run the lamp for the time, oil lamps burn for longer than candles do.


Oil does expire, providing a shorter lifespan

Fragrance oil generally lasts a maximum of a year if unused. After that, the oil will need to be replaced. 

To help you out, here at The Lamp Stand we only sell smaller batches of fragrance oil, so it's easy to use it within a shorter time frame. 

Requires more maintenance than a candle

Oil lamps require more setup in their first use, and regular maintenance than most candles do.

Candles vs. Oil Lamps Review

As you can see, there are many pros and cons for both candles and oil lamps. The reality is that both products do what they do very well, so it comes down to what you are looking for.

Are you interested in quickly eliminating odors from your home? A catalytic lamp works faster than a candle will.

Are you looking for a specific scent and a cozy atmosphere? Candles come in variations that crackle and have dancing flames and holders that cast fun shadows for any aesthetic you want.

Our final verdict on which is better, fragrance oil lamps vs. candles is that both products are great at what they do.

Each is suited to a different person.


Are fragrance oil lamps safe?

Fragrance oil lamps are very safe as long as they are used responsibly. If you want to learn more about how to safely use a fragrance oil lamp, we have a blog for that, check it out.

Are candles safe?

Candles are safe; however, they do require constant supervision because they do employ an open flame.

Can you use catalytic lamps around children and pets?

Yes, fragrance oil lamps do not produce any soot, so they are perfectly safe to use around children and pets with supervision.