From Paris With Love: Lampe Berger

As long as can remember, there was a Lampe Berger in several rooms at Yakymour, and, as a child I was always facinated by them. Not only because of the scent it spread, but also how it worked….

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Cartier Art Deco Basculante Clock, Cartier Art Deco Triptique Clock and Lampe Berger Bacarrat (Privat collection)(Click photo to enlarge)

Begum Om Habibeh had several different scents she could use for her Lampe Berger , depending on mood or occasion. I grew up with them, my grandmother had one, my mother, and me, myself and I…. and still facinated, and enjoying it a lot!

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Lampe Berger Bacarrat (Privat collection)(Click photo to enlarge).

I can tell you how wonderfull it is, but first: what is it? A Lampe Berger is a fragrance lamp, also known as a ‘perfume lamp’, ‘catalytic lamp’ or  ‘effusion lamp’. The lamp disperses scented oil, using a heated stone attached to a cotton wick. The catalystic combusion wick was originally developed in the 19th century for use in hospitals and mortuaries. A Frenchman named Maurice Berger was the first to receive a patent (in 1897!), and the company he founded, Lampe Berger, is the oldest worldwide manufacturer of the device though there are a growing number of companies making such lamps. For myself: I go for the original!

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Lampe Berger Bacarrat (Privat collection)(Click photo to enlarge)

The lamps are sold on the premise that molecules that cause bad smells are inherently unstable and the fragrance lamp’s flame-less, low-temperature catalytic combustion speeds up the decomposition process, converting odor molecules into harmless substances (such as carbon dioxide and water). While the lamps are no longer considered effective for use in hospitals, they have remained popular as air fresheners.

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Lampe Berger Bacarrat (Privat collection)(Click photo to enlarge).

The fragrance lamp’s process is initiated by lighting the stone burner seated at the mouth of the lamp. After a few minutes the flame is extinguished by blowing it out. But; the heated burner remains active as the flame-less, low-temperature catalytic combustion process; and diffuses the aromatics throughout the room. The lamp does not operate with an open flame, making it much safer to operate than scented candles. Its lower operating temperature also means that, unlike scented candles, the aromatics are diffused very efficiently into the ambient air without being burned. One of the by-products of these fragrance lamps is low-level ozone, which has been attributed to the “purification process” of the lamps in eliminating odor.

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Lampe Berger Bacarrat (Privat collection)(Click photo to enlarge).

At Yakymour there where a few Baccarat crystal Lampe Berger’s, and my mother owned a Limoges porcelain one. Even today the ‘bottles’ are availble in countles kind of shapes, styles, colors, materials and price ranges. From classic, to ultra-modern, from around 39€ to 1500€ and everything in between. Every year Lampe Berger invites a designer or crystal house to design a limited edition for them. So… something for anyone..

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Lampe Berger Bacarrat (Privat collection)(Click photo to enlarge)

Notice:

The lamp fuel contains 90% isopropyl alcohol and should be regarded as a highly flammable liquid. Furthermore, to start the catalytic wick according to the instruction it is necessary to light the catalytic burner with a flame and let it burn for approximately two minutes until it reaches the correct operating temperature. At this point the flame should be extinguished in order for the oil to be diffused.

Some point sound logic maybe, but still: precautions should be taken to avoid any possible hazards:

  • Make sure the fuel container is in perfect condition, perfectly tight and not leaking.
  • When not in use, make sure the airtight cap is on at all times to prevent evaporation (alcohol vapour/air mixture is highly flammable!).
  • Do not leave unattended during operation.
  • Do not use in an unventilated room.
  • Do not inhale, ingest, or use the lamp fuel in any other manner.
  • Use only original Lampe Berger fuel, not fake ones!!
  • Take extreme caution while refilling the fragrance lamp. Make sure there is ventilation, and that there is no open flame.
  • In case of any spillage, wipe the area carefully before lighting the lamp.
  • Do not fill lamps on wooden furniture or use a lamp without a dish underneath it. The fuel will damage furniture.

Soon more about Lampe Berger, and its scents, here on Yakymour.

by Jean Amr

4 thoughts on “From Paris With Love: Lampe Berger

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