4 Must-Have Dorm-Friendly Candle Alternatives

By Michelle Weth

A great candle can transport you to a different place, time, or experience. Scents can impact your mood and productivity so it's important to have a nice one on hand. Unfortunately, most dorms don't allow actual candles due to their status as fire hazards. Never fear, though - whether you want to use scents as self-care or to cover up the smell of burned microwave popcorn, we've gathered some amazing dorm-friendly candle alternatives.

1.    Essential Oil Diffusers

A pleasant and natural way of adding new smells to a room, ultrasonic diffusers use water to create a fine mist containing droplets of essential oil. The diffusion appears as a calm, steady stream of fog which adds to the visual appeal. Most essential oil diffuser machines have changing lights, adding to the aesthetic and serving as a great replacement for soft candle flames. I personally love Muji diffusers and their brand of minimalist essential oils for your minimalist dreams, but you can find some cheaper alternatives can be found in TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Target.

2. Reed Diffuser

Reed diffusers are typically made of a narrow plastic or glass vessel with essential oils housed at the bottom and wooden reeds sticking out of the opening to carry the smell. Reed diffusers are great because the scent isn't overpowering, though it can be depending on the size of your vessel. To make your reed diffusers last longer, try flipping your reeds every few days rather than breaking them. I like the Yankee Candle Diffuser from Bed Bath & Beyond and, if you want to splurge, this reed diffuser available at Anthropologie. That said, making your own reed diffuser is a popular dorm activity, so keep an eye out in case any RAs in your dorm are hosting an event!

3. Wax Warmers and Melts

Wax warmers are little plug-in devices that melt scented wax cubes to release the scent of your choice into your room. The scents tend to be pretty potent, making a wax warmer an effective and inexpensive way to make an entire room smell nice. There is a wide variety of wax melt scents, and you can always combine scents by breaking different melts and putting them on the warmer tray at the same time. It's best to turn off the warmer a little while before you need to sleep or leave the room to make sure it's not a hazard, though. Wax warmers can be found in a variety of stores, from Target to Walmart to Yankee Candles to even Kohl's. There are a variety of different warmer designs, but my favorite is a hexagonal white wax warmer from Yankee Candle.

4. Room Sprays and Air Fresheners

What would dorm life be like without trusty room sprays? A cheap way to mask trash or bathroom funk, room sprays are a nice method of quickly changing the ambiance of a dorm room. While room sprays may smell synthetic or manufactured, they are the easiest candle alternative to find and incorporate into a routine. They are far from a "treat yourself" item, but room sprays are still great options to make your dorm room smell fresh and new. Glade lavender room sprays are my favorite, but it's always good to check in with a roommate before buying a strong scent.