- Doesn't require electricity to use
- Sustainable materials and packaging
- Beautiful minimalist design fits any interior
- Takes a few minutes for the scent to diffuse
- Can be affected by room temperature
- A bit pricey
With the almost unending causes of stress in our modern lives, many people have resorted to different methods to calm their minds and bodies, often by delighting senses other than their sight. While music seems to be the most common way to set (or break) a mood, some people have instead taken to aromas to bring them to a state of equilibrium. As such, it isn’t at all surprising that there has been an uptake in the production and sales of essential oil diffusers, many of which use electronics to create and spread vapors. It isn’t a convenient method, nor is it sustainable. Fortunately, there are better alternatives to electricity-powered diffusers, and we take a look at one of the most interesting designs to see if this battery-free beauty is worth its price.
Designers: Yu Ito & Yoshimi Kemmotsu of SOL style
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There are, of course, aroma diffusers that simply put an oil container on top of a candle flame. While they technically satisfy the sustainability requirement, they’re hardly different from electric diffusers in that their design is completely utilitarian. They fulfill a function, and that’s pretty much it. Beyond that very specific use case, they rarely have any other purpose and are most often stowed away out of sight.
The Lei non-electric aroma diffuser, in contrast, is almost like a decorative piece that already upgrades the quality of a space just by being there. It has the appearance of a very barebones miniature windmill with a single-blade fan. The all-black metal structure provides a nice contrast with any color, while its minimalist aesthetic blends well with any interior motif you might have going.
Unlike any other diffuser, Lei looks both simple and complex. The thin pieces of bent metal form only the skeleton that keeps the structure standing, allowing the viewer to see anything behind it. This theme of transparency is carried over to the left side of the diffuser, which houses the candle in a glass cylinder. This vessel shields people’s hands from the heat of the candle while also adding a bit of material contrast to the cold black metal frame.
At the same, the aroma diffuser also evokes a sense of mystery and complexity, especially when you see it working. How can something so simple and plain even function as a diffuser, especially with a fan that turns without any machinery or electricity? Your brain isn’t able to immediately make the connection between the candle flame and the turning blade, putting your mind in an almost contemplative state. Even when just passively standing as a piece of decoration, this beautiful aroma diffuser already creates an impact on your awareness and mood, setting the stage for a deeper and more emotional experience once you actually light up that candle.
Although a diffuser of any sort is not something you will constantly hold in your hands, the usability of a product goes a long way in ensuring the user’s comfort. Even if you do not need to worry yourself about the risks of electricity or the availability of batteries, getting burned by hot surfaces can still ruin what should instead be a calming experience. Fortunately, Lei was designed to be super simple to use, despite its seemingly magical operation.
It doesn’t get any simpler than putting a few drops of oil on a tray that slots into the back of the fan and then lighting a candle. The glass cover around the candle not only protects anyone from accidentally touching the flame but also ensures that heat is properly directed to the metal plate above it. Cleaning the diffuser is also a simple affair since only those parts have to be regularly cleaned.
The electricity-free aroma diffuser is also portable to some extent. You can place it anywhere in the room or house as you wish without having to worry about placing it near a wall socket. That said, it isn’t exactly something you can bring with you anywhere, especially if you want to include the glass cover. And while you definitely don’t need batteries, you will have to make sure you have a supply of tealight candles ready for use. If you don’t, Lei is really nothing more than a beautiful piece of decoration that you should have left at home anyway.
This sustainable aroma diffuser is quite unique in the way it works, even among other candle-powered diffusers. Others of the latter kind often light a small fire underneath a receptacle, usually a small ceramic bowl, that heats up the oil inside it until it evaporates and diffuses into the air. That, however, has the effect of overheating the oil to the point that it actually affects the scent it gives off.
In Lei’s case, the candle only heats the metal arm above it, and this heat is transferred to a fan that uses that energy to spin slowly. The aroma from the oil is therefore preserved and is gently carried by the breeze generated by the fan. While this seemingly magical process works fine for most cases, it does come with two very important drawbacks.
The first one is that it takes a bit longer for the diffuser to actually start spreading the aroma, around two to three minutes to warm up the fan. You also have to give the blade a push to start its motion rather than having it move on its own. There’s also no option to set the intensity of the diffusion, unlike on an electric device. It is, however, still more effective than a regular candle diffuser because you can control the direction and flow of air rather than hoping for the best.
The more important consideration, however, is that room temperature can greatly affect its performance. If you put it near an air conditioner or fan, it will take a bit longer for the fan to reach the required temperature to start spinning. Placement is still important, but you have at least more freedom in where you want to put the diffuser.
An electric diffuser might sound like less work to get you in a state of relaxation, but only if you never stop to consider how your peace of mind comes at the expense of the planet. Most, if not all, such diffusers are primarily made from a lot of plastic, and the electronics inside them make recycling and proper disposal more difficult. Those that directly plug into power outlets also add to the overall electricity consumption and carbon footprint, even if they take only sips.
This aroma diffuser is, of course, completely sustainable, from its metal and glass composition to its use of heat conduction rather than electricity. Even the packaging itself, made from aluminum and paper, is sustainable. In other words, you can enjoy a guilt-free “Me Time” with your favorite oils, knowing that, at least in this case, you aren’t adding to the troubles of the planet.
Lei is a beautiful aroma diffuser that puts sustainability at its core. It’s almost perfect, if not for the considerations about temperature and portability mentioned earlier. There is, however, one other major factor that could make or break your decision to buy one. While it is, without a doubt, a well-designed product, it is also a product that isn’t easily accessible to many people.
This sustainable diffuser carries a three-figure price tag that is almost double that of typical aroma diffusers. Admittedly, that kind of price difference isn’t exactly unusual for designer products such as this. It does clearly mark it as something made for and targeted at enthusiasts, those who greatly appreciate a beautifully designed product, as well as the pure scents of oils. For this kind of crowd, this is definitely worth the investment for both its sustainability and its aesthetics.
Aroma diffusers today come in all shapes, sizes, and features. Some are hi-tech wonders that try to be smarter than you, while others go back to the basics with nothing more than fire and oil, with some ceramic or metal in between. This completely green diffuser is somewhere in between while also being in a league of its own. It demonstrates the best of human creativity in applying physics to something so simple yet still respects natural processes while giving it a little push. And it does so in a shape that is eye-catching yet so simple that it almost blends into the background. Elegant and uncomplicated, it embodies what a relaxing atmosphere should be.
It isn’t without its faults, though. To some extent, it is also at the mercy of the very heat it ingeniously utilizes to its benefit. It is also a representative of the stereotypical designer product that surpasses the common fare in both aesthetic and price. But for something beautiful that’s meant to last a long, long time, it is pretty much a long-term investment not only for your well-being but also for that of the planet.
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