All About Wax Melts - FAQ

Learn all about wax melts in this FAQ, what they are and how they're used, definitions, how to use this website, how we perform wax melt reviews, and more!

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Wax melts are basically wickless candles! Just put a wax cube or two into a wax warmer, and as the wax melts and releases the scent into the air, your room or house will smell fantastic within about 20 minutes.

Pros
Wax melts are better than candles because they're safer (no flame and no glass to break), healthier because there is no soot, easier to store because they're very small, and cheaper. With wax melts, it's easy to blend scents — just put one or half a cube of each scent into the warmer (although with candles you can simply burn two candles of different scents).

Cons
Candles are better for ambience because they have a pretty glow (although many wax warmers also come with lights). Candles can also be used for lighting during a power outage. Candles are more popular than melts, so there are more candle brands and scents available. And a candle can be less of a fuss, with no messy wax to handle or warmers to clean — just light it!

Wax brands fall into one of three categories: Retail, Vendor, and Direct Sales.

Retail Wax
Retail wax is wax brands that are sold in stores, generally large and chain stores, and national gift shops. These are brands such as ScentSationals, Better Homes & Gardens, Goose Creek Candle, Sonoma (Kohl's), Living Colors (at Big Lots), Tuscany Candle, Yankee Candle, and many more. Retail wax is also wax made by large companies that might only (or mostly) be sold online (like Hanna's Candle), but because they're large companies and the wax is generally made in a factory rather than someone's home, they are considered retail.

Retail wax can be found at Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Meijer, Big Lots, Hallmark, small gift shops, and pretty much most stores that sell candles.

The biggest benefit of buying retail wax is that if you buy it from a store, you can sniff it before you buy it. That way you're only buying scents that you like, and there are no surprises. Plus, most stores will also allow you to return wax melts if they haven't been used. Then there's also the convenience of instant gratification, just driving to the store and picking up your wax melts without having to wait for an order to ship or paying shipping fees.

Vendor Wax
Vendor ("Indie") wax is wax that's made by individual vendors. The wax is often made in the person's home, or maybe a small shop, and is either sold only online or locally at flea markets or small local stores. There are thousands of wax vendors out there, and depending on the vendor, the quality of the wax might be just as good, better, or worse than retail wax.

The biggest benefit of buying vendor wax is that you're supporting a small business and dealing with the owner personally. Also, many independent wax vendors get very creative with their scent blends, so often you can find scents that you would never find in a department store. On the other hand, if it's not a well-known company, you don't know if they're reputable or if their wax is any good. Some wax vendors take a very long time to ship, because they're making the melts on their own and only have so much time.

Vendor wax can be found on websites such as Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and more. Popular vendors will often have a strong social media presence, and a good place to start is on Facebook. Just do a search for wax melts. You can join wax melt groups and ask questions to find out which vendors have the best melts.

Direct Sales Wax
Direct sales wax is sold by commissioned salespeople, and consists of brands such as Scentsy, PartyLite, Pink Zebra, and Jewelry in Candles. Usually the only way you can buy this wax is through a rep. You can find reps in your area on the websites, but a good rep doesn't need to be local, since they will ship your wax. Direct sales wax tends to be quite expensive, and the quality can vary as much as retail or vendor wax. Just because it's more expensive doesn't make it better; remember that these companies have to pay commissions to their salespeople, so the price of the wax includes that overhead.

"Throw" is how far the scent reaches ("throws") when it's melting. What influences the wax throw the most is the wax itself, whether it's the type of wax used (paraffin tends to perform best, while soy tends to not perform as well, although a lot of wax is made with a blend), or the quality of the scented oils used, or the scent itself (some scents are just inherently light throwers), the particular batch, or the age of the wax and how it's stored (high quality wax can last for years if kept in a cool place away from natural light, and if any holes or breaks in the clamshell are taped over). However, external influences also play a large role in the throw, and that includes room size, room shape, room temperature, open windows and breezes, air conditioning and heat, traffic in the room, location of the warmers, and the type and wattage of the warmer in which it's melting.

There are no "standard" throw scores for wax melts, so I've come up with a scale of 0 to 5. Most people prefer strong to bold throw, but some people prefer a milder throw for, say, a bedroom or baby's room, especially if it's a strong scent.

SCORE Descrip How Far Scent Travels
0.00 None Nothing, even up close
1.00 Poor A few inches to a foot away. Won't smell it in any room.
1.50 Very Faint 2 or 3 feet away. May smell it in tiny room like a very small bathroom.


2.00 and 2.25 Faint 2 or 3 yards away. May smell it in small room.

2.50 and 2.75 Mild Several yards away. May smell it in small to medium sized room.

3.00 and 3.25 Medium Will smell it in medium to large sized room.

3.50 and 3.75 Strong Will smell it in large room.
4.00 Very Strong Will smell it in large room, and outside the room and maybe entire floor.

4.50 and 5.00 Bold "Scent Monster", may smell it throughout house and even outside house if windows open.

How strong the scent itself is. You can have a strong scent that doesn't throw well, or a weak scent that does throw well. Strong scents are usually in the bakery category, such as cinnamon based scents, as well as some peppermint, citrus and pine scents. Other scents may be lighter, such as florals and vanilla scents. In general, strong scents throw well and light scents don't throw as well, but there are often exceptions. A particular cinnamon scent might be strong on cold sniff (the scent of the wax before it's melted), but when melting you can barely smell it from a few feet away. Or a particular light floral may not hit you in the face when you walk into the room, but it has a very subtle fragrance that wafts through the house.

What the wax gets melted in. Just put a cube or two or wax in the tray, and turn the warmer on. There are two general kinds: tabletop warmers (which sit on a desk or table) and wall warmer (which plug directly into a wall without a cord.

There are 3 main types of tabletop warmers: tealight warmers, bulb warmers, and hot plate warmers:

Tealight warmers don't use electricity; they use small tealight candles to provide the heat. Tealight warmers are the cheapest, and you can even find them at your local Goodwill.

Bulb warmers use light bulbs to provide the heat.

Hot plate warmers use a heating element. Hot plate warmers are the most common and distribute the heat the most evenly.

Warmers come in a variety of styles and colors, and you may find that one type does better in a room than another.


WATTAGE

Warmers generally range in watts from 13W to 30W. Most tabletop warmers are 20W or 24W. Wall warmers use a small 15W bulb. Tabletop lightbulb warmers use light bulbs between 10W and 30W, but usually 25W.

Usually the wattage is not disclosed on the package, but will be listed on the bottom of the unit next to the volts and Hz measurement, for instance "110-120V AC. 60Hz. 20W". Unfortunately this sometimes means removing the unit from the package to find out the wattage, although sometimes you can just open the bottom of the box without having to remove the entire unit. You'll need glasses to find it though, as the writing is often very tiny and is usually an inscription that's hard to read.

How does wattage affect scent throw?
In general, the lower the wattage, the less scent you will smell, but the smell will last for a longer time. With a higher wattage warmer, the smell may be stronger, but the high heat will burn off the scent faster so the scent may not last as long. The "sweet spot" is 20W.

Does surface area affect throw?
Surface area (how wide the tray is) can also affect throw. A warmer with a larger tray will generally provide better throw, although it may not be a noticeable difference. A larger tray also means that you'll have to use a little more wax so that the entire bottom of the tray is covered with wax.

How many cubes of wax should you use in a warmer?
Start with one cube and work from there. One cube is usually enough, although some people use two cubes. Two cubes may last a little longer than one cube, since the wax pool is deeper so it doesn't burn off as quickly. But too many cubes can actually hinder the throw, as it makes the wax pool too deep so that the middle of the wax doesn't get hot enough.

Can I mix different scents?
Of course, and experimenting with scent blending can be a lot of fun. You'll find that if you mix 1 cube of each, often one scent will overthrow the other, so you might have to change the proportions for certain scents. We find that putting a cube of one scent in one warmer, next to a warmer containing a cube of another scent, tends to be the most effective. For some reason, blending 2 scents in the same warmer can sometimes cancel each other out.

What about those small plug-in wall warmers?
Small plug-in wall warmers tend to give off the least scent because the trays are tiny, plus they're often only 15W. And they come with a top with holes in it. The top is for safety, to keep pets and children from putting their fingers in the hot wax. However, the top really limits how much scent gets released.

Warmer Summary
With all that said, there are exceptions to every rule. I've had fantastic luck with wax I've melted in tiny wall warmers in a huge room, and not such great luck with wax in larger warmers with more wattage in a small room. High quality wax with good throw will work pretty much anywhere with any warmer. Wax with poor throw may not work no matter which warmer or how many cubes you use.

Haul
The wax you bring home from a shopping trip, as in, "Take a look at my amazing haul!"

Stash
The wax you own, as in, "My stash is getting out of hand!"

Destash
Wax you want to get rid of (sell).

Clam
Short for "clamshell", which is the rectangular plastic package that most wax melts come in.

Sleeve
An entire tray full of wax melts. A wax melt tray is the plastic tray that wax melts sit in on store shelves (mostly Walmart). They hold 8 to 12 wax melts, depending on the size of the tray and clamshells. The word "sleeve" and "tray" are used interchangeably. It means all of the wax melts in that tray (usually the same scent), as in, "I love that scent so much, I bought an entire sleeve!"

With vendor/indie wax melts, there are no typical "seasons" as far as when certain scents are available. Most scents are available year-round, although each vendor may have certain days, weeks, or months that they are open for business. You'll need to check with each vendor to find out their schedule.

Retail melts, and especially those sold in brick and mortar stores, tend to be more seasonal. That is, some scents or types of scents will only be available certain times of the year, and new scents may become available the same general week or month every year.

Walmart wax melts (ScentSationals, Better Homes & Gardens, and Mainstays) new spring/summer scents usually come out in January or February (depending on your store). Their fall scents come out July or August. And their Christmas scents (only Better Homes & Gardens and Mainstays, not ScentSationals) come out November and December. New ScentSationals scents for Meijer and H-E-B stores may have different schedules than Walmart.

Sonoma wax melts at Kohl's and AmbiEscents wax melts at Bed Bath and Beyond have a similar schedule as Walmart.

Aldi comes out with new scents 3 times a year (Jan/Feb, Apr/May, and Sept). Although starting in 2019 they may also have Christmas scents that will come out in Oct/Nov.

DD wax melts at Hobby Lobby are usually twice a year, around June/July and November/December (although their Nov/Dec scents are generally not "seasonal" type scents like fall and Christmas scents).

Living Colors wax melts at Big Lots seem to come out with new scents every 2 months.

Goose Creek Candles also seems to come out with new scents every 2 months or so.

Hanna's Candle doesn't come out with new wax melt scents very often, and if so, there is no set schedule.

Do you have other general wax melt questions that are not covered on this page?

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