Diptyque, the French scent company best known for its beautiful Instagram-tableau-ready candles that come in scents like Feu de Bois and Feuille de Lavande, released its first car diffuser in September. It joins Diptyque’s line of home diffusers and is the company’s first attempt at finally solving the problem of how to safely keep a lit candle in an automobile. But is it any good, or is it just some stupid expensive piece of shit?
COST: It’s difficult to know what to budget for a new car air freshener, as I’m sure you know. A hanging Little Tree will cost you around two dollars, but a Glade plug-in will cost you around five. A Yankee Candle air freshener in “MidSummer’s Night” scent will cost you $5.99, but a Diptyque Un Air de Diptyque Car Diffuser will cost you $60 plus $32 per scent cartridge. Hmm. I guess, to be safe, when you’re attempting to budget for a new car air freshener, set aside: $100.
THE DIFFUSER: The diffuser itself is a joy to behold, and a joy to be holding. It’s the size of a little round-edged soap, tiny and light. It is plastic with little golden manually-adjustable metal slats, so that you might let out, theoretically, varying levels of scent.
It’s got a little rubber nubby in the back that you attach to one of your car’s air vents, which I did with relative ease even though I am not, at this point, an auto mechanic. The cartridge, which you insert into the diffuser, looks like a delicate little scent abacus. Its tiny scent beads do not represent numbers, however; they represent tiny units of scent-related driving pleasure—vroom, vroom! (In a pinch, you can also use them to represent numbers.)
THE CARTRIDGES: The cartridges are “available,” a term which I am using loosely for reasons I will explain in a moment, in Diptyque’s Ambre, Baies, Feu de Bois, Figuier, Pin, Roses, Pomander, Fleur D’Oranger, Gingembre, and 34 Boulevard Saint Germain scents.
All of the classics, save for my personal favorite car scent: the mixture of vanilla Little Tree, old cigarette, and new cigarette from my friend Kristin’s car in high school. At the time of publishing this particular scent is not offered from Diptyque.
When I attempted to purchase a cartridge for this evaluation, only two scents were not “out of stock” in Diptyque’s online store: Baies and Figuier. Only two scents not out of stock? A terrible showing from the Diptyque online store. Seems to me that since Diptyque is Diptyque, they should just make more cartridges when the cartridges run out. Yes? But I am not president of Diptyque, at least for the moment. So I have no say. I chose Figuier (“Fig Tree”).
According to Diptyque Figuier smells like “the warmth of the [fig tree’s] bark, the freshness of the leaves, and the milky sap of its fruit.” To me it smells like “a perfumed version of the color green, but not in a way that I particularly like.” C’est la vie. Please pray that I will be able to purchase a Feu de Bois or Pin before the winter holiday driving season.
SCENT LEVEL: The diffuser’s scent slats don’t do too much to limit the scent level in the car, I’m sad to report. The scent is pretty much there as much as it’s gonna be, which is a lot, at all times.
This brings me to an important question, and one that I want you to think honestly about: How much scent do you need in a car, really? Hm? In my experience, once you introduce any unnatural scent to a car the scent level becomes — and I know it is going to be shocking to hear me say this, as a scent reviewer, but — too high. Do you agree? Cars are too small of a space to introduce a scent, even if it is an expensive scent from Diptyque, a candle company I love even though they have “burned” me a number of times, most recently with the availability of their cartridges.
Plus, part of the allure of a candle is its flame, and its warmth, and its life. With a diffuser, the scent is just there in an unnatural, sort of uncanny way. You just live in a world where that is the air now. It unnerves me, personally. I didn’t mean to take down diffusers in general with this piece but writing is a journey and you never know where you’ll end up.
EXPERIENCE: I tested the Un Air de Diptyque Car Diffuser on a three-hour drive, and I do believe it at least helped to ease the boredom of driving alone (with my dog). I always had the scent to keep me company, making things a little more interesting in a slightly less pleasant way.
GIFT WRAPPING: When gift wrapping is free, you should absolutely gift wrap. Please remember this. You deserve to open a gift, and you deserve to write yourself a little note to open later. Gift wrapping is free on Diptyque’s website, and it’s done very beautifully. Get the gift wrapping, and write yourself a little note.
SHOULD I HAVE ASKED JALOPNIK TO GIVE ME A FANCY CAR TO TEST THE AIR FRESHENER IN: Yes. I wish I had thought of this earlier. Instead I just tested it in my own car. A Toyota Prius.
OVERALL OPINION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU SHOULD BUY THIS: How much money do you have? You can tell me, c’mon. If you have a lot of money then yeah, do whatever, I don’t care. If you don’t have a lot of money then almost certainly don’t buy this. If you can get Jalopnik to let you expense it that would be ideal.