The Best Reed Diffusers Last All Season and Don’t Compete With Your Decor
These are our favorite scents for winter.
Updated Dec 23, 2022 12:42 PM
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Much like wardrobes, our interiors also require a transition between seasons—and one particularly low-lift practice for updating a space is swapping scents. To avoid burning through a new suit of expensive candles every three months, we suggest going the reed diffuser route. These flameless fragrance alternatives can last an entire season while also functioning as a relaxing ritual and aesthetically pleasing decor accent. We love placing well-designed vessels in foyers to greet guests upon entry or inside bathrooms to maintain a fresh-and-fragrant facade, turning over the reeds every so often to redistribute the aromatic oils.
But as there are countless scents to sort through, we culled a list of the best reed diffusers from our favorite brands for winter—including options for balsam fir purists, those who prefer the spice of clove, and fans of the subtle, smoky embrace of an open fire.
Our Favorite Reed Diffusers
- Nest New York Birchwood Pine Reed Diffuser
- Trudon Gabriel Reed Diffuser
- Apotheke Earl Grey Bitters Reed Diffuser
- Brooklinen Bright Idea Reed Diffuser
- Williams Sonoma Let It Snow Frosted Clove Reed Diffuser
- Cassina Amber Katmandou Reed Diffuser
- Threshold Holiday Forest Fir Reed Diffuser
- P.F. Candle Co. Piñon Reed Diffuser
Why we chose it: You’re Team Fake Tree but want your home to smell like you cut the real deal down yourself.
One of Nest’s best-selling fragrances for years, the Birchwood Pine reed diffuser has all the hallmarks of an iconic winter scent. Flipping over one of the eight darkly finished rattan reeds is the equivalent of walking through a snow-covered forest. That’s because the tried-and-true aromatic blend not only nods to its namesake tree but includes hints of white pine and balsam fir. It isn’t overwhelmingly piney thanks to a musky, amber base that balances everything out. And much like any Nest product, this one arrives with an etched glass vessel (no tacky pine needle illustrations to be found here!) that holds 5.9 fluid ounces of long-lasting oil. “The fragrance is like bringing in the outdoors, stealing through a pine forest with underlying floral notes,” one reviewer shares. Another writes, “If you could explain Christmas in a scent, this is it.” (Psst: Cypress and Snow is also a safe bet from Nest for the colder months.)
Why we chose it: Like wrapping up with a wool blanket next to the fire.
Recently made available in diffuser form, Gabriel—aka “gourmand chimney fire”—is one of Trudon’s most well-known winter scents. It’s a cozy combination of leather, cashmere wood, and candied chestnuts, now bottled up in one of the French brand’s green glass containers that are handcrafted in Normandy. The fluted exterior and brass cap exudes luxury (hence the steeper price tag). But trust us when we say it’s a splurge-worthy investment—not only is it the largest vessel on this list, holding a whopping 350 milliliters, but the company certainly knows a thing or two about opulent fragrances; it has been whipping up candles since 1643. Plus refills are available, and spending this much means shipping is free.
Why we chose it: If your winter memories are all about cozying up with your favorite cuppa instead of hot cocoa.
Skip the marshmallows and hot chocolate. Apotheke’s Earl Grey Bitters brings to mind the quintessentially British tea with a slice of lemon, bergamot, and peony. The frosted glass vessel is simple enough to blend in with any decor scheme, yet we find its frosted look still delivers wintry vibes. It’s the sort of scent that buyers confirm appeals to a range of noses—not too subtle, not too strong. One commenter shares, “Earl Grey is one of my favorite scents. I have an open-concept kitchen and family room. I have placed this reed diffuser in my family room and it just adds another dimension beyond my candles. These are my favorite candles, and I give them as gifts to everyone. But from now on I will additionally be giving this reed diffuser.”
Why we chose it: For the floral and citrus lovers already dreaming about a warm spring.
Consider this reed diffuser your reset to bring out at the start of the New Year. Designed by Brooklinen as a part of its first foray into home fragrance, it launched this fall to evoke mental clarity. Bright Idea is a fresh pairing of cardamom, pepper, and geranium that the brand claims can serve as your new “secret weapon for creative brainstorms.”
Why we chose it: This one’s slight shimmer delivers festive flair.
If you prefer a more classic scent, this reed diffuser exclusive to Williams Sonoma includes all the typical suspects: orange, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and vetiver. It’s a cut above other tried-and-trues thanks to a curvy, faceted glass diffuser topped with an opening just wide enough for nine black reeds to sit neatly within. Just 2 inches in diameter, the diffuser won’t soak up too much space on an already crowded bathroom vanity or entry console table.
Why we chose it: A deeply-pigmented crimson diffuser to crack open in the depths of winter.
When it’s bone-chillingly cold out, the incense-like scent of Cassina’s Amber Kathmandu will evoke the same ambience of being seated “next to a fire in a traditional house in Kathmandu.” It’s a heady mix of balsamic, amber, orange, ginger, and vanilla. Created by perfumer Emmanuel Philip, it’s in concert with two other scents that sensorially take you around the globe. Maybe a Gio Ponti or Mario Bellini design isn’t in the cards, but your living room can smell like you might have one in the other room.
Why we chose it: A value pick if you just need a little something to get you though the post-holiday slump.
In need of a more budget-friendly buy? This Threshold diffuser comes well reviewed and is on sale for roughly $10. The glass vial houses not only the forest fir–scented oil but faux pine cones and needles for an elevated visual. Commenters do warn the throw is on the soft side, though one believes it’s because the reeds aren’t porous enough. Thankfully, this one is so affordable you can scoop up an extra set of reeds for even less (here’s a large pack for $6 backed by nearly 2,000 positive reviews).
Why we chose it: For those who wish they could swap Northeast snow for winters in the Southwest.
If balsam- and cedar-based scents are only your thing during the holidays, turn to P.F. Candle Co.’s twist on southern pine for the remainder of the season. The piñon is a nut-bearing tree that grows in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, and this diffuser bottles up the scent of its cedarlike logs on a bonfire, rounded out with the sweet aroma of vanilla. Housed in an apothecary-inspired amber jar outfitted with real rattan reeds, the label on this diffuser is small enough to not be distracting, covering just a small percentage of the 4-ounce bottle. The brand estimates the 3.5 fluid ounces of oil should last anywhere from three to four months.
Luxe Giftables, All Year Long
If you’re looking for a unique housewarming or wedding gift, or don’t want to show up empty-handed at an upcoming gathering, then the selection of reed diffusers, below, are definitely luxurious enough to be gift wrapped.
Q: Does it matter where I place a reed diffuser?
We love to place a diffuser in an entryway or bathroom; most manufacturers just warn of keeping these fragrance throwers out of direct sunlight—or any long-term heat source—as it can dry out the reeds, causing them to split.
Q: The scent I chose is too strong; is there anything I can do?
If your reed diffuser comes off as choking rather than refreshing, all is not lost; try taking out a couple of reeds to disperse a smaller amount of aromatic oil, then check back every week or two to give them a flip.
The Last Word
Candles often take the lead when it comes to filling a home with fragrance. But if you don’t want to worry about forgetting your lit wick hours later or sacrifice seasonal ambience, the best reed diffusers may be your best bet.