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Does COVID Mean I Should Get An Air Purifier?

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For years, an assortment of fly-by-night brands on Amazon have been peddling so-called HEPA air purifiers. Without knowing anything about their efficacy or even what HEPA stands for, the whole market seemed like snake oil. How else could you explain the nonsense names of what Amazon identifies as the leading brands? RIGOGLIOSO, JINPUS, ASLOTUS, to name a few. (My favorite is a clever brand called “THE THREE MUSKETEERS III M,” a patently obvious attempt to capitalize on the credibility of the U.S. company 3M.)

Now that we are told to live in constant fear of a flying, unseeable virus, it seems like a good as time as any to revisit these machines. Do they actually work? For most of 2020, that question was purely academic; air purifiers flew off the digital shelves at a such a clip that you could not have gotten one even if you wanted to. But now that supply chains have stabilized to a degree, it is worth asking if air purifiers are worth the investment.

In theory, these HEPA-filtered devices remove 99.97% of particles from the air. However, despite what you’ve heard from scaremongers, you are unlikely to contract COVID from stray particles just floating around. If someone in your household has the coronavirus, you are likely to get it from being in contact with them. The quality of the air is unlikely to affect that one way or the other. Furthermore, even though an air purifier removes particles from the air, it does not kill them. This could make cleaning out the filter especially dangerous, as you are guaranteed to come into contact with whatever it picked up. If you’re like me, this all sound like much more trouble than it’s worth.

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Intelabe HEPA Air Purifier Air Filter with Fragrance Sponge Air Cleaner Eliminate Smoke, Dust,Pollen, Dander Air Purifiers for Home, Bedroom, Living Room, Kitchen and Office — $43.99

Look, if you want to waste $50 on some OEM Chinese air purifier for the peace of mind, like the one pictured above, I am not going to stop you. Just do not get bamboozled by the companies trying to price gouge you in the current climate. For example, there is no reason on earth that anyone should spend $800 for the Molekule Air:

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Molekule Air Large Room Air Purifier with PECO Technology for Allergens, Pollutants, Viruses, Bacteria, and Mold, Silver — $799

I get that it looks cool. But if you buy it, you have to realize that what you are really getting is an art installation.

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‘Tis The Season? Scented Candles Suffer From COVID-19

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Scented candles are a classic Christmas gift, right up there with gift certificates to Bath & Body Works. When you get someone a scented candle in a favorite aroma, you are showing that you’ve paid attention to what she likes. And, as SNL memorably parodied a few years back, scented candles are especially appreciated because they are easily regiftable in a pinch:

I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d be shocked if Yankee Candle didn’t typically do something like half of its overall sales during the holiday shopping season. Well, maybe not this year. As several internet sleuths with way too much time on their hands have noted and graphed, customer reviews of usually popular scented candles on both Amazon and YankeeCandle.com have been steadily trending downward.

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Yankee Candle Large 2-Wick Tumbler Candle, Balsam & Cedar on sale for $17.69

The suspected culprit? COVID-19. Loss of smell is a common symptom of the coronavirus, so it is possible that COVID-infected shoppers are buying the scented candles unable to appreciate the fragrance.

You’d think with people all across the country being shut up in side so much, candles would be in higher demand than ever. For all the procrastinating sons out there who’ve come to rely on Yankee Candle as a last-minute gift each year, here’s hoping the company is able to weather out this storm. If you don’t have COVID, do your part to help them out by buying a signature candle. If you aren’t sure if you have the virus or not, you can buy one anyway as a make-your-own COVID test. Good luck convincing your insurance to cover it.

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Looking For An Alternative To The Always Pan?

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If you’ve been on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube or any of the other social media sites that propel products to viral stardom, you know all about the Always Pan. Like the Instant Pot of holidays past, the Always Pan is designed to roll the functions of several pieces of cookware into one. This singular kitchen item can perform the tasks of a fry pan, a sauté pan, a steamer, a skillet, a saucier, a saucepan, a non-stick pan, a spatula, and a spoon rest.

The good news is that since it is Black Friday, the normally $145 Always Pan is on sale for just $95 with the code SUPERSALE. The bad news is that even though the deal is still available, the Always Pan has been so popular that they won’t be able to ship you one until February.

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Always Pan on sale for $95 with the code SUPERSALE

In other words, the Black Friday deal isn’t particularly useful if you are trying to do your Christmas shopping. If you want a pan that will arrive in time for the holidays, and also don’t mind spending your cash on a product without that Insta cred, then you might consider this “all-in-one” pan from Ozeri. It may not be able to do quite everything of the Always Pan, but it is non-stick and comes with a tempered glass lid with a steam release vent. The best part? Usually $90, the Ozeri pan is on sale for just $40.

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Ozeri Stone Earth All-in-One Sauce Pan 100% APEO, GenX, PFBS, PFOS, PFOA, NMP and NEP-Free German-Made Coating, 5 L (5.3 Quart), Lava Black on sale for $39.39

Ozeri is a brand to be trusted, boasting a 100% German-made nonstick coating. Their 10-inch stainless steel pan was Wirecutter’s picks for best nonstick pan to use for induction cooking.

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Can SAD Lamps Make You Happy?

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I am not a licensed psychiatrist, so I am not going to weigh in on whether Seasonal Affective Disorder is a legitimate mood disorder, as opposed to a normal human response to a change in seasons. But I will say that whoever named it obviously thought it was a joke – there is no way you can tall someone you are “SAD” and expect the sympathy that traditionally accompanies revelations of mental illness.

Whether you actually suffer from clinical depression or just would prefer more sunlit hours in a day, now is the time of year the winter blues are starting to kick in. And one would expect it to be worse than ever in 2020, with the amount of fresh air and sunlight you can get proscribed by COVID-19 regulations.

In theory, SAD lamps can help. Contrary to their name, SAD lamps are not designed to bring you further down into the dumps but instead to make you happy. Maybe they should call them HAPPY lamps. I’ll let the professionals to come up with some appropriate backronym for that like they obviously did with Season Affective Disorder all those years ago.

SAD lamps are useful for so-called “light therapy.” Again, I’m not a doctor, so I do not know exactly how they work, besides the crucial fact that they are meant to mimic daylight while filtering out UV rays. Putting one in your home can help you combat the effects of earlier and earlier sunsets, and maybe even trick your brain into thinking you live in Florida. SAD lamps aren’t very expensive, so if your mood ever starts to sag (especially going into the holidays without being surrounded by family), you might as well give it a go.

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TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp, Ultra-Thin UV-Free 10000 Lux Therapy Light, Timer Function, Adjustable Brightness Levels, Memory Function, 90° Rotatable Stand for a Happy Life — $32.99

When choosing a SAD lamp, you’d do well to consider this one from TaoTronics, whose SoundLiberty 53 earbuds we reviewed on this website (back when they were called the TT-53) along with their TT-060 over-ear headphones. Although we tend to think of TaoTronics as an audio company, the Sunvalley group’s flagship brand sells a host of other home electronics as well, including space heaters and HEPA air purifiers.

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