How to Make a Catalytic Fragrance Lamp

Catalytic fragrance lamps--also known as Lampe Berger--have been around since the late 19th century and were originally used to purify the air in hospitals and replace them with a pleasant fragrance, according to They work by forcing the cleansing molecules from the fuel into the air with a heated stone burner, also called the catalytic burner. They are small and do not require continuous open flame to work. These lamps are effective and convenient, but the cheapest ones range between £32 and £39. Thankfully, you can construct your own catalytic fragrance lamp and create the fuel for it yourself.

Find or purchase a tempered glass bottle. The bottle will need two metal caps that fit it securely. Regular-sized lamps are about 7 inches tall, approximately 4 to 5 inches wide and have an opening that is a 1/2 inch in diameter.

Use a very small drill bit to make holes in one of the metal caps. Space the holes evenly but far enough apart that they don't break when you make the next one. This will be the "shade" that covers the catalytic burner while allowing the air to flow in and out of the lamp.

Obtain a catalytic burner with the wick already attached. For a regular-sized lamp, you will need one with a cotton wick that is 18mm, or .71 inches in diameter. Inexpensive replacement wicks are available for when the original one wears out.

Make the fuel for your lamp by mixing 454gr, or 473 ml, of 91% isopropyl alcohol with about 12 drops of the fragrance oil of your choice.

Fill the bottle two-thirds full with your fuel using the funnel so you don't spill any on the outside of the bottle. Insert the wick of the burner into the bottle. Place the solid metal cap on (the one without holes) and let the wick soak for about 30 minutes to ensure it is completely saturated with fuel.

Remove the solid metal cap. Light the stone burner carefully and let the flame burn no longer than four minutes. If you let it burn longer, you will risk ruining the stone burner. Blow on the flame to put it out and place the metal cap with holes drilled in it on the bottle.

When you are ready to turn off your burner, replace the vented cap with the solid cap, which will stop the exchange of air and put out the heat. The solid cap also will keep the alcohol in the fuel from evaporating.


Fragrance oils are sold at department and speciality store. Catalytic burners are available online. The 91% isopropyl alcohol is sold inexpensively at drug stores.


Do not use 70% rubbing alcohol or any paraffin-based fragrance oil when making lamp fuel as these ingredients will create smoke when burnt. Do not use plastic caps in place of metal ones because plastic can melt under the heat. Because the lamps contain heat, keep them away from fabric and upholstery.

Things You'll Need

  • Tempered glass bottle
  • Two metal caps
  • Drill
  • Small drill bit
  • Catalytic stone burner with wick attached
  • Isopropyl alcohol 91%
  • Fragrance oil
  • Funnel
  • Lighter
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About the Author

Angela Neal is a writer for various websites, specializing in published articles ranging from the categories of art and design to beauty and DIY fashion. Neal received her Associate of Arts in administrative assisting from Bohecker College.