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Also known as a "perfume lamp", "effusion lamp," or "catalytic lamp", a fragrance lamp is a lamp that disperses scented alcohol using a heated stone attached to a cotton wick. The catalytic combustion wick was originally developed in the 19th century for use in hospitals and mortuaries.
The fragrance lamp's process is initiated by igniting the stone burner seated at the mouth of the lamp. After a few minutes the flame is extinguished by blowing it out. 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.
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. 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.
- 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.