Help me come home to a spa, scent-wise
July 24, 2019 11:50 AM   Subscribe

You know that scent that wafts by when you open the doors of a hotel spa or upscale gym? I have a dream that when I come home after work and open the door of my apartment, it smells exactly like that fancy spa or gym. I have some ideas about how to get there, but I'd like your help!

So I've worked out that likely what makes spas smell so nice is some kind of essential oil diffuser, and I think an atomizer-style diffuser is a good fit for my living space.

My dilemma however is that I want the diffuser to be diffusing, let's say, only between the hours of 5 and 7 PM. Most of the diffusers I've found have a 5-8 hour run cycle, which would mean they'd be out of oil by the time I got home (I'm usually out, let's call it 8 AM-6 PM) andthey'd run up my electric bill.

Here are the options I'm considering:
a) buy a diffuser with a timer. The complication here is that lots of diffusers do have a "timer", but this "timer" is actually the timer that tells the diffuser to stop when it runs out of oil, or to only atomize oil every n seconds, not a timer that delays the start time of the diffuser. So I haven't been able to figure out which one to purchase and would be looking for your recommendations here.
b) buy a "smart" diffuser that connects to the wi-fi and turn it on remotely, from my phone, at 5PM. Is this actually a thing? Is the internet of things really the internet? Or would this only work if the diffuser and my phone are on the same wi-fi network, thus defeating the purpose?
c) buy a diffuser with a 10-12 hour run cycle, electric bill be damned
d) there's something other than a diffuser that would do this way better, and you'll explain what it is in the comments!

The absolute most important part of this fantasy is that my apartment already has the smell when I arrive. If I have to turn on the diffuser after I get home, that's no good.

Also, if it helps: here's the layout of my apartment. Conveniently, my furniture setup is almost exactly identical to the example.
posted by capricorn to Shopping (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You can get timers that plug into the wall and then you plug whatever electrical thing you want into the timer and it will turn on whenever you program it to. No need for a diffuser with a timer or any kind of “smart” app if you don’t want them. I can’t vouch for this timer specifically but you can find them at hardware stores, sometimes under the name “lamp timers.”
posted by corey flood at 11:56 AM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

I was about to suggest the same thing. Dumb diffuser that runs whenever it's plugged in, plus a lamp timer.
posted by clawsoon at 12:00 PM on July 24, 2019

there's something other than a diffuser that would do this way better, and you'll explain what it is in the comments!

I have two options:

1. Dab some essential oil on a COLD light bulb (i.e., the light is turned off). They even make little clay rings you can rest on top of a light bulb and drop the oil onto. Make it a light that you are likely to turn on when you come home. Then - when you come home and switch on the light, the heat from the turned-on bulb will warm the oil and diffuse the scent.

2. Skip the essential oil altogether - get an old pot, and then throw in a lemon you've cut into a couple chunks, a couple sprigs of rosemary and a couple drops of vanilla extract. Fill the rest of the pot with water, and then put it on your stove, and turn on the heat. Reportedly this is what Williams Sonoma does; and if you're only looking for a couple hours' worth of scent this is a good DIY option. (Although, be careful not to let the water boil away and the lemon and rosemary start to burn onto the pan. I speak from experience.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:08 PM on July 24, 2019

EmpressCallipygos, unfortunately I'm only looking for something that would already smell nice when I arrive. The specific critical moment is the moment when I open the door and a scent wafts out into the hallway and greets my nostrils. It can't be something that I have to wait until I get home to turn on/boil/etc.
posted by capricorn at 12:12 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

You could skip the technology altogether and just go with a reed diffuser, which would smell (nice) all the time, including when you get home.
posted by carrioncomfort at 12:28 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Reed Diffusers also work well . Just leave on your hall table (or close to the front door).

I use something similar to this little fan. I ran out of the little pads when kid was sick, so I just added a drop of eucalyptus to the old pad, and it worked a treat. So you could do something similar with whatever you sent you like. Runs on a battery. Mine doesn't turn off, but that one looks like it does.
posted by Ftsqg at 12:36 PM on July 24, 2019

Yep, coming here to say "outlet timer" You can get ones that will both turn on a diffuser and also turn it OFF after you get home so you can get that whoosh of good smells but not burn through a ton of oil every night. I'm a big fan of the bog simple mechanical ones like this one, but they're all pretty cheap and easy to use.
posted by jessamyn at 12:40 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have those exact ones jessamyn linked and have been using them for a couple of years now. No complaints! I have the birds' lights on them, the hamster's red light, and my evening living room lamp.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:51 PM on July 24, 2019

I use some of those mechanical timers (mine are from IKEA) for plant lighting, and I use app-driven ones that work with Alexa for other things that I want to turn on and off on a schedule AND maybe by voice sometimes too.

The trick with your actual scent device though: it needs to come on without human intervention when power is restored to it, rather than needing a button-push to turn on after being plugged in. So, for my plant and fish tank lights I need something that has a mechanical on-off switch, either a slider or rocker switch on the body of the device or a rocker/wheel-click on the power cord, so you can set it in an ON state and let the timer enable power to it at the right time.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:29 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yes, just to supplement what Lyn Never said, I have two ultrasonic diffusers — this one and this one — and they both revert to an "off" state if power is disconnected when they are on, and do not turn back on when it's reconnected, so these would not work with the outlet timer + diffuser system. I fear that most if not all non-smart active diffusers work that way, so you may have difficulty finding one to work in that system.

There are some smart diffusers out there, which I think should be able to do what you want, and you shouldn't have to be on the same WiFi, although I don't have direct experience with them.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:43 PM on July 24, 2019

I own a nebulizer with an inbuilt timer that you can set like an alarm. You can set what time it runs e.g. from 7-9pm. It runs on batteries or it can be plugged in.

I would not recommend my particular model because the bottle that holds the liquid scent is plastic but you can try searching for nebulizers with timers.
posted by whitelotus at 1:32 AM on July 25, 2019

This has been immensely helpful because I can't find a single model that has a timer you can set like an alarm or one that has a physical switch! I'll probably end up going with one that has a 12 hr runtime.
posted by capricorn at 8:59 AM on July 26, 2019

...and I'm incredibly amused now because IMMEDIATELY after posting that comment, this one with a scheduling function came up in my Amazon results. We have a winner!
posted by capricorn at 9:01 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

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