How to Make a Simple Scented Oil Burner

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Scented oil burners are becoming a very popular way to give a home a clean, fresh, or inviting smell. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, and can often be quite expensive. Most are electric-powered, but some are much simpler, only requiring a small tealight candle to heat and distribute the scent of your chosen oil. If you've ever admired these devices and wanted to both save yourself a bit of money and put your creativity to work, you'll only need a few items and a little bit of time.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 15-ounce tin can of vegetables
  • Can opener that opens from the side (this means, after removal, the can's top can still sit and cover the top of the can without falling into it)
  • A pick (or other very sharp object) and a hammer 
  • Scented oil of your choice
  • Tealight
  • Lighter
  • Safety First: Since you'll be dealing with sharp edges and an open flame, some protective gloves may be desired (optional)

Step 1: Choose Supplies

It's important to choose your supplies based on two things: your desired aesthetic and the amount of time and effort you wish to put into this. For this tutorial, we'll be using a green bean can, and a pick and hammer as the main tools. However, once you grow comfortable with this method, feel free to venture out and try more creative routes.

For the can, pick any size or material you choose, but tin or aluminum is suggested. The thinner it is, the easier this will be. You may choose something like a soda can, a vegetable can, or a Vienna sausage can, for example.

For the tools, you need something that will easily pierce or cut the can. A combination of a pick, knife, or screwdriver with a hammer works best for punching an oxygen hole. You can use tinner snips to cut the holes, as small or large as you want. A Dremel tool can create a wider variety of shapes and sizes, as well as puncture a wider range of materials.

Step 2: Prepare the Can

Take your 15-ounce can and open the top using the side-cutting can opener. Set the top aside for later use. Empty the can's contents (use them if you wish), remove the label (try as best you can to remove all glue remnants), and clean it out.

Step 3: Create Air Flow

An oil burner works because a heat source -- either electric or the flame of a candle -- burns/warms the oil suspended above it, dispersing its scent through its fumes, creating pleasant-smelling air around you. With the flame option, oxygen is necessary for it to continue to burn. You cannot simply drop a candle into the can, put the lid back on, and expect it to continue producing the heat needed to warm the oil. Therefore, a steady and easily accessible flow of oxygen must be created by making openings in the can.

To do this, take the now-topless can, press your pick's pointed end against the metal and hit the handle of the pick with the hammer with enough force to puncture a hole all the way through. Repeat this as many times as desired, in any pattern you choose, all around the can.

Tip

  • With this method, not only are you creating oxygen flow for the candle, but when it's lit and resting inside the can, it will act as a small lamp fixture, producing shadow patterns on your surroundings. It's both functional and acts as home decor!

Step 4: Reassemble and Use

Place a tealight in the bottom of the can and light it. Then, place the can's lid back on top. Drip or pour the desired amount of oil on the lid, making sure not to spill it over the sides. Wait a few moments for the heat to penetrate the lid and disperse the scent.

Repeat step 4 as many times as desired, making sure to take care when lifting the lid, as not all of the liquid may burn off with every use.

Warning

  • The can will get hot quickly. Use caution when moving it, adjusting it, or changing out tealights/oils.

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