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I tried Arctic Air Pure Chill because of TikTok. It's worth the buy

I'll be using this gadget to beat the heat all summer long.
Two images of Editor Emma Stessman next to her portable AC unit, Arctic Chill
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Emma Stessman

Keeping cool in the summer can be a hard task, even when you have an AC in your home.

This is the first year that I'm living in an apartment without central air, so beating the heat has been quite the struggle in humid New York. I'm still reluctant to splurge on a bulky air conditioning unit that will run up my electricity bill, so I've had to get creative when it comes to finding solutions that will keep me cool and save money. Sleeping with cooling sheets, using a fan and taking regular cold showers have all been pretty helpful. But recently, I found an affordable cooler that blows any of those other strategies out of the water.

The Ontel Arctic Air Pure Chill Personal Air Cooler, which went viral on TikTok, is the perfect personal cooling tool and can even be a good option for people who have AC but need an extra little cool boost on really hot days.

Ontel Arctic Air Pure Chill Evaporative Ultra-Portable Personal Air Cooler

It's not an air conditioner, but it keeps me cool

There's an important distinction that needs to be made when it comes to the Arctic Air Pure Chill. The handy little gadget is an air cooler not an air conditioner. It's an evaporative cooler, otherwise known as a "swamp cooler," which works by pulling in hot air and fanning it through a water-soaked filter.

It's pretty small, too, so it won't chill an entire room, but it's a great option to keep by your desk or by your bed for a constant stream of cold air while you work or sleep. And at just $25 on Target, it's about the same price as a basic fan but it has way more cooling power.

To use it, you add water to the tank on top. It works pretty well with water alone, but to get a real cooling effect, the instructions say that you should remove the filter, soak it and then put it in the freezer and add some ice cubes to the water tank. And those few steps alone make a huge difference.

The air is coolest within the first hour or so while the filter is still frozen and the ice is melting, but even after that, you still get a pretty cool breeze thanks to the water tank. If I'm using it during the day, I'll add a couple more ice cubes after a few hours, for an extra boost of cold air. Mostly, though, I've been using it at night and it's been a lifesaver for keeping me from overheating while I sleep. I just place it a few feet away from my bed and point it directly at me to get a nice cold breeze for most of the night.

The cooler is marketed as being "whisper quiet," but it's actually about the same noise level as your average fan. It's not so noisy that it distracts me when I'm working or falling asleep, but I'd probably turn it off for Zoom meetings. It also has a light on top that you can set to different colors, like pink or blue. You can shut off the light, too, but you'll still get some glow from the buttons on the back. And as reviewers have mentioned online, the product is not as cool as an air conditioner, but it does keep me cool enough to sleep and work from home comfortably.

It's TikTok-approved

One user posted a review of the cooler after seeing it on the app, and the video now has a whopping 6.7 million views and 1 million likes. "It's small, it's cute, portable," she said about the cooler. She also added that it's "amazing" for its price.

The gadget is currently the No. 1 bestselling portable air conditioner on Amazon, even though it has some mixed reviews — and it's so popular that it's currently sold out on the site.

Even if you have AC in your house, many reviewers who have given the cooler a five-star rating say that it's a good way to keep your electric bill down. "This little unit is terrific," wrote one reviewer. "Not only saving me money by not using air conditioning, [but] it keeps me cool on these hot days. It is a great 'personal air conditioner' and I position it directly on me. I have a central air conditioner, but can't afford to run it, so this little unit is a lifesaver!"

Another reviewer said that the cooler was a "game changer" in helping to beat the heat in Palm Springs, California. "We’re approaching 120-degree heat already so I thought, 'why not?' and ordered this lil' diddy, honestly because it was well priced," she wrote. "Amen to my instincts because I love it! I put the filter in the freezer, throw in some ice cubes, and pop it on my nightstand and am good to go ... I can actually turn the AC off, shut up my room and sleep comfortably. Or put it wherever I hang out in my home and be chill, literally."

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