Do you have a signature scent? Prefer switching it up seasonally? Regardless, the question must have crossed your mind: What's the best way to distribute it throughout your home? Candles are the most popular, but reed diffusers are a close second, and each has its own set of pros and cons. But how do we choose? It was time to turn to an expert. We chatted with Kristen Pumphrey, co-founder of one of our all-time favorite brands, P.F. Candle Co., to get the ins and outs of these two key players in the home fragrance game. Keep scrolling for the full scoop plus 10 of our tried and true favorite scents of all time.
What Exactly Is a Reed Diffuser?
"A reed diffuser uses reed sticks (typically rattan) to soak up the fragrance and disperse it into the air. Typically, the fragrance mixture is a blend of fragrance oils, alcohol, and DPG (dipropylene glycol), which stabilizes the fragrance and makes the consistency better for the liquid absorption into the reed sticks."
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Candles vs. Reed Diffusers
Why would someone pick a reed diffuser over a candle and vice versa?
"Diffusers are very low maintenance — you should pick one if you're looking for 'always-on' scent that you don't have to worry about (like an open flame). Candles are a little better for gifting and are my go-to when I want to boost the mood in a room."
What are the pros and cons of each?
- Pros: "Constant fragrance dispersion and low maintenance — all you have to do is flip the reeds."
- Cons: "They don’t give off the same ambiance of candles."
- Pros: "Ambiance, mood, and fragrance all in one."
- Cons: "You have to practice good candle care, like trimming your wick and not leaving it burning unattended."
Which one lasts longer, and which one has a stronger scent?
"Diffusers will last for a couple of months if cared for properly, and I personally find them to have a stronger scent because it's omnipresent, whereas a candle disperses fragrance while you burn it and slightly after."
Do you personally prefer candles or reed diffusers?
"I use diffusers in every room of my house, and I started using them a lot after having a kid — I didn't want to worry about an open flame. That being said, nothing beats the flickering flame of a moody candle."
Our Favorite Diffusers
Ojai is the sweetest town in Southern California, with its farmers' markets, old school diners, and local art shops galore. No other scent has so perfectly encapsulated this magical place. Lavender blends with Ojai's local tangerine, the pixie, for an herbal and citrus combo that is so distinctly Ojai.
It's no surprise that when you put Gray Malin and NEST together, it results in the crème de la crème of home accessories. The diffuser bursts with notes of crushed coconut, sparkling bergamot, rich amber, and vanilla-infused musk to craft the perfect Palm Beach, Florida-inspired fragrance.
Votivo is a cult classic — specifically, the brand's notorious red currant scent. It's honestly pretty difficult to put the fragrance into words, but it blends tart, sweet, and warm vanilla in the best way possible. The price point is also shockingly low for the exceptionally high-quality packaging and fragrance. We swear by this brand.
You know a brand is good when it only sells two fragrances. This is Kai's original and signature scent that grew its loyal following. Also available in body care and skin care, we want our entire homes and lives to smell like Kai.
A Voluspa staple, we are not unique in loving the brand's mokara scent. Orchid, lily, and spring moss are combined with a stunning glass holder and a remarkably low price.
Our Favorite Candles
Diptyque is one of those luxury brands that's 100% worth the cost. We can't confidently say this is our favorite scent since there are so many good ones, but Narguilé is our newest discovery. It combines tobacco leaves, a hint of honey, and a sprinkle of spices. You need to try it to fully understand.
Rifle Paper Co. makes a wide variety of beautifully distinct scents, but Souks of Marrakech has to be our favorite. Its amber and black vanilla pairing is the ideal blend of sweet and spicy. Trust us — you will not be able to stop lighting it.
DEHV's Woodland Concrete Candle transforms your living room into a cozy cabin with a crackling fireplace. It makes for the warmest, most comforting ambiance. Plus, you can reuse the beautiful and heavy container as part of your home decor once the candle has fully burned.
L'or de Seraphine feels like a secret that's just too good to keep. Between the striking packaging (seriously, it's stunning in person) and the scents we can't get enough of, this is one of the prettiest presents you can give yourself or your loved ones.
There's no other way to say it: Boy Smells candles are as cool as they come. That iconic black and pink packaging is the cherry on top of the brand's complex fragrances. LES is a definite fave.