Vapour diffusers – not to be confused with the overpowering reed diffusers you’ll still be smelling in 2050 if you have the misfortune to knock one over – are emerging as a popular alternative to the scented candle.
Flame-free and completely safe, they pump out billowing, fresh plumes of fragrant water vapour and are very easy to operate and maintain, only occasionally having to be filled with a small amount of water and a few drops of scented oil.
Here we round up our favourites from the (still pretty limited) selection currently available.
1. Muji Large Aroma Diffuser: £69, Muji
This cloudy white dome looks like a very large pebble in a Zen garden and pleasingly gurgles like a water feature you might also find in one. With 30, 60 and 90-minute settings, it won't keep running if you fall asleep, which is very likely given how wonderfully soporific its sound, aromas and glow are – this diffuser is a lamp too. It's a little pricey at £69, but a skinnier version is also available for £45 and the oil refills are cheap to pick up at under £5 a bottle (though it already comes with a good selection). All the scents we tried produced very subtle, non-overpowering scents that easily and quickly fill a room, lasting for a few hours but not lingering longer than you'd want.
2. Zen Soto Aroma Diffuser: From £39.95, Amazon
“What the hell is that?” at least three people exclaimed after spotting it in my living room, the Soto resembling a spaceship and glowing a variety of changing colours. It’s dinkier than Muji’s and doesn’t produce as much vapour (which dissipates very quickly by the way, in case you had visions of your house resembling a Michael Jackson music video) but still does a sterling job and is slightly easier to refill (the lid is a doddle to remove). The only down side is the oils it comes with, which are a bit sickly sweet even if you only add a couple of drops to the water, but you could always use oils from different brands.
3. Yun Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser with MP3/CD Player: £159.99, Feel Good Matters
Much more expensive than the first two, but the sleek design of this diffuser makes up for it. The Yun consists of a handcrafted maple wood base and hand-blown glass top that fills with vapour like a round-bottomed flask in a forest laboratory. Its shape is inspired by an ancient Chinese musical instrument and the diffuser is capable of piping out music, be it the pre-loaded Japanese melodies or something you play via your smartphone or MP3 player through an AUX cable. This one, about the size of a football, also comes with a remote control that operates both the vapour and music. A word of warning: despite the product’s misleading title, you need to provide your own CD player.
4. Êverie Parfumeur D’Intérieur: £299, Harrods
Another one in the "Bond villain" price range, but a very elegant and sophisticated piece of kit that “quietly rhythms the flow of the perfumed waves so as to send them smoothly through any room," and it can certainly fill one – it’s effective in spaces up to 140 square metres. Available in white or black, it’s operated via a touch screen on the top and is your best bet for perfuming larger areas.
5. Naeo Leo Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser: £34.99, Stress No More
Back in the realm of the affordable, with an orb-shaped diffuser that looks as though it belongs in some ancient temple. A much more straightforward option with no real unique functions, but a gravity-defying wood-effect design that will look good in a minimalist-styled room. It works the same way as the others, by using any essential oils to produce a light, ethereal vapour.
The verdict: Aromatherapy diffusers
Although there are some luxury options out there, Muji’s diffuser is the best all-rounder, with really moreish scents, relaxing sounds and a light so soft it’s almost worth the money as a lamp alone.
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