Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nov. 17 - Tarts 101

I love tarts.  No, really, I do.  I'm always trying to get people interested in them, and would have loved to buy tarts and warmers for everyone for Christmas this year . . . but sadly, not everyone around me shares my obsession.  Some don't even have a clue what tarts are.  I also tend to see comments and confusion online about tarts and warmers, and thought I'd do a little informational post.

I will say right off the bat that I have never tried Scentsy tarts or warmers but I would think the same rules apply.

So let's get started.

I currently have three tart warmers.  They are tea light style, and these can be found for probably less than $5 at Walmart, Kmart, or similar stores.  The one in the middle is my favorite as far as *look* but it's small and I think is meant more for fragrance oils.  The dish is attached, and rather deep, so it makes it a little harder to remove the hardened wax, but it's just such a cool looking soapstone warmer.  The white one on the right is the cheapest one and while it serves it's purpose, the bowl is slightly smaller and more shallow than the one on the left, and because it's taller I found the heat from the tea light wasn't quite reaching it enough to fully melt some tarts.  I had to improvise, as you'll seen in an upcoming picture.  The one on the left is my favorite, my workhorse. 

There are other types of warmers . . . 
 There are basic electric one that uses a sort of hot plate to heat the dish and melt the wax.

There are electric ones that use a light bulb as the heat source to melt the wax, and have the added visual effect of the the light shining through various holes.  Just adds a bit of a prettier touch.

From there you can find a multitude of shapes and styles and sizes.  You can probably find something to fit ANY decor or personality . . . 

Some are so darn cute, but some are also darn expensive.  I'm not sure about Scentsy but some of the Yankee warmers can be up to $35.  In the end though, they all do the same thing: heat wax to release fragrance into your home.  Just depends on what you are willing to spend.

Most people use the electric warmers, and from what I've seen it's about equally divided between the hot place vs. light bulb styles.  Some people don't like the light bulb style because they say it's hard to find replacement bulbs or because it doesn't get hot enough to melt larger or harder wax chunks.  (I've often heard that Scentsy warmers do not heat enough to melt harder tarts so Scentsy wax must be pretty soft.)  A lot of people don't like the tea light style because it involves a burning candle.  I'm in the minority here.  I prefer the tea light warmers.  I like that I can place my warmer anywhere, not limited to where it can be plugged in.  I like that the tea light will burn for several hours, burn itself out, and the wax will cool and harden after that.  I did try an electric (hot plate style) warmer at one point but none of the areas I could plug it in were good spots to have a tart warmer.  I also didn't like that it just stayed on.  I wish there was a timer or something that would shut it off.  At times I think it would be nice to just turn it on in the morning and have lovely scents all day without thinking about it, but other times I think I'd forget it's on and 'waste' my tarts.  Of course, having said all that, I would love some beautiful electric warmers if I could come up with a place near a plug to put them!

Anyway, back to my warmers.

The inexpensive tea light warmers are all basically the same.  They are usually one piece, with a built in dish on top.  You put a tea light candle in the opening in the back and the heat from that rises to warm the bowl and melt the wax.  (You can sort of see inside the one on the right, that tall one I mentioned earlier, I had to glue and empty tea light tin upside down inside to make a platform to set all future candles because I needed to get more heat up to the bowl.)
Even tea lights vary greatly in price.  I get mine at Walmart in big 50 pack bags for only a few dollars, or the 24 pack (when bags are sold out) for something like $1.24.  (I will update the prices next time I get to town and can check on this.)  Tea lights for tart warmers do NOT need to be fancy.  They are not seen and their only purpose is to heat that wax.  No need to spend extra money here.  I find that each tea light burns about 3-4 hours, and they burn themselves out.
Tarts come in many shapes and sizes.  Again, they all do the same thing . . . the wax melts and fragrance is released.  Whether store bought, brand name, or handcrafted from small business vendors, the types of wax used can vary, and the scent strength (throw) can vary too.  I live in a drafty, country farmhouse with large rooms so I tend to use full tarts and prefer the strongly scented ones.  I use two cubes from the Better Homes & Gardens/Walmart tarts although I could probably get away with one.  I have used entire scent shots from Candles By Victoria but have more recently started cutting them in half and find that works just as well.  But I also know that some people prefer lighter scents or live in small apartments, and a smaller portion might work sufficiently.  It just depends on your situation.

Place your wax in the dish . . .

Light your tea light (or turn on your warmer) . . . 

The wax will begin melting in no time . . . 

And soon enough you'll have a big ol' wax pool and plenty of lovely scent filling your room or your house!

Cleanup is another area where opinions vary.  I think most people do the freezer method, but I've recently seen people talking about pouring the still-warm wax back into the clam shell (cubes) packages.  I've never tried this method because it seems like it would be hot and messy.  I used to just do a lot of frustrated scraping of wax until I found out about the freezer method.  It's very simple!  Once your wax has cooled back down and hardened, just put the dish (or the whole warmer in the case of one-piece units like mine) into the freezer for 10, 20, 30 minutes.  You'll find the time needed will vary depending on the type of tarts you use.  Once it's had time to freeze, some wax will just slide right out of the dish.  (I've found Bath & Body Works, and Walmart tarts do this.)  Others might need a minute or two of sitting out of the freezer to actually loosen up and then will usually pop right out.  Some need a little more coaxing, like working the edge of a butter knife or a spoon under the edge to sort of break the seal or cling.  And some still need a bit of scraping no matter what you do. 
I bought this little plastic scraper for under $1 (found in the kitchen gadgets aisle at most stores) to use for removing used wax from my warmers.   I use the pointier edge (to the right), and as you can see from the one little curled area of wax, it doesn't take much to loosen the whole thing.  Toss this into the garbage and start a new tart.  It's handy having more than warmer because if the scent is not quite done on one but I feel like a different scent, I just pop something in the other warmer and light that.

And that's really all there is to it.  Can I buy you a warmer and some tarts for Christmas??


  1. I also prefer the tea light warmers. They give a nice ambiance to the room.

    Last week was the first time I burned a tart! I purchased a couple from Yankee Candles and the one package of Better Homes & Gardens. The Better Homes & Gardens was a much better price and just as good as Yankee.

    I was a little confused as to when the tart was actually "done". Was I to wait until all the wax had vanished? or does the scent vanish after so many hours? I opted to burn it all night. The next morning after it was hardened I took a sharp knife to the edge and it popped right out of the ceramic burner.

    Still loving my fragrance oils best but I'll surely be buying more of the Better Homes & Gardens tarts on my next visit to Wally world!

  2. I'm still curious about fragrance oils, especially for my little brown warmer. Do I do it the same as with tarts, meaning do I burn a tea light and the warm oil throws scent? Wouldn't it just be scent-y all the time if it's always liquid? How much do I use?

    I'm going shopping tomorrow. I might buy a bottle just to try it.

    I toss my tarts when the scent fades. The amount of 'burns' I get out of them can vary greatly depending on supplier.


  3. Hi Deb,

    I only use my soapstone burners (like your brown one) for the oils. The ceramic burners get too hot and burn the oil too fast (not good).

    You can use up to 20 drops of oil. They don't give off scent until warmed up. I've also found that certain scents don't give off half the scent as other fragrances (not depending on the brand, just the scent itself).

    If you still have oil left after the burn, you can smell it to see if it's fragrant enough to re-use. Sometimes I can add a few drops to freshen it up but sometimes I just wipe the bowl clean.

    I've yet to try any of the oils from Walmart. I'm pretty particular and am afraid they'd be too artifical smelling. If you try some, let me know! Bath and Body Works also carry them (aprox $5 a bottle). I love the Marshmallow Fireside by BBW :)

    x Lynda

  4. The Bath & Body Works oils are the ones that got me curious. I watch Ellie's YouTube videos and she used to use them a lot.

    It's the Walmart ones I intend to try tomorrow so I will definitely let you know what I think, even though I have nothing to compare them to. Doh!


  5. No need to compare :) If you like the scent is what matters! (and if it gives a good throw).

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them!

  6. Lynda ~ I tried leaving comments on your blog but it tells me it's restricted to 'team memebers.'


  7. thanks for letting me know!
    can you check and see if it works now.

  8. ROFL!! your comment gave me a good giggle.

    I warned you you I was an enabler. But a good one, at least :)

    x Lynda

  9. Nice informative post! I need to make burning tarts a habit- I have all these here but go long periods forgetting I could be smelling yummy things instead of nothing ......

  10. Sometimes I get sick of having tarts going every day and have to take a break from them just to get a nothingness smell.