I tested a Lampe Berger catalytic diffuser versus the Moda sonic diffuser to see which one was more effective at distributing essential oils in the air.

Lampe Berger vs. Sonic Diffuser, www.moderngillie.com

The Lampe Berger, diffuser, and Améo essential oils were purchased by me with my own funds.

All opinions and evaluations are my own.

Lampe Berger

The Lampe Berger was invented in 1898 by Maurice Berger to purify the air of enclosed rooms. He took a simple alcohol lamp and added a ceramic stone at the top of the wick. When heated, the stone continues to catalyze the alcohol without flame. The alcohol fuel travels up a woven cloth wick to the catalytic stone.

In the 1930’s fragrance was added to the lamp fuel to enhance ambiance as well as purify the air. Now there are many lamp designs. Some have become collectible and are quite beautiful.  (http://www.lampeberger.ca/the-origin-of-LAMPE-BERGER-PARIS)

Lampe Berger versus Sonic Diffuser, www.moderngillie.com

Lampe Berger versus sonic Diffuser, www.moderngillie.com
Woven wick

Many beautiful lamps are available at a variety of prices. The one I used for my test is a Lampe Ondine and can be found on Amazon.ca for CND$92. There are many in the $40-$50 range with very affordable starter kits.

Lampe Berger versus Sonic Diffuser, www.moderngillie.com
Catalytic stone

Ultra-sonic Diffuser

Lampe Berger versus Sonic Diffuser, www.moderngillie.com

This is a typical ultrasonic diffuser that uses water and essential oils. It is from Zija International. I am a Zija Independent Distributor  (my website) and my price was CND$ 62.50.  Prior to becoming a Zija Distributor,  I had little interest in essential oils. The Améo essential oils are of such superior quality that I had to try them and have, so far, been very impressed. I thought that the sonic diffusers must be THE way to aerosolize essential oils because everyone seems to have at least one. I love the Améo oils. My favorite blend is Lemongrass, Peppermint, and Lavander. I want my whole house to smell of it, rather than dog/cat/cooking with the occasional “I think that needs to go to the compost”.

Lampe Berger versus sonic diffuser, www.moderngillie.comHonestly, I was underwhelmed by the sonic diffuser. It did a good job of diffusing for a few yards around it but definitely was not getting the essential oils throughout the whole house.

At first, I thought that perhaps the difference was in the Lampe Berger fragrance blends. There are many and several of them are very pleasant. They can be quite strong.

I cleaned out one of my lamps and soaked the wick in plain isopropyl alcohol. Then I set up a little experiment. I don’t have access to a device that measures particles in the air but I decided for this test my nose would be a fine substitution.

Lampe Berger versus sonic diffuser,www.moderngillie.com

My nose is the highly sensitive measuring device.

I made up 100 ml of lamp fuel = 100 ml isopropyl alcohol and 5 drops of Améo Lemongrass essential oil. I chose Lemongrass essential oil because it is a very strong scent. Then for the Sonic diffuser, I made up 100ml of water with 5 drops of Améo Lemongrass essential oil.

Lampe Berger results

First I “ran” the Lampe Berger. Very rapidly the entire downstairs smelled of Lemongrass. By the 10 minute mark, I could smell Lemongrass in the hallway at the top of the stairs. This is a fair distance for the scent to travel. It must move from the Living room to the entrance hallway up the stairwell and into the upstairs hallway.

Moda Diffuser results.

When the house was clear of the Lampe Berger Lemongrass I turned on the Moda diffuser. It was right beside the Lampe Berger in the living room. The Lemongrass scent was fairly strong in a 3-yard radius of the diffuser. It did not move into the other downstairs rooms and never was detectable in the entrance hallway or the upstairs hallway.

lampe berger versus sonic diffuser, www.moderngillie.comTo make this properly scientific I should have repeated this a number of times. I didn’t. The difference was so extreme I felt any question as to which device succeeded in my goal of making the whole house smell good was answered. The difference is very likely a product of hot air versus cold air. The hot air from the lamp moves faster, with more energy and therefore carries the scent further.

My conclusion

To make the house smell like lemongrass, peppermint, and lavender I will make up an alcohol solution with those oils and burn them in my Lampe Berger. My Moda diffuser will be placed in a smaller room where I might like to have a different scent.

If you have been thinking about a Lampe Berger I can highly recommend them. They work well with the Lampe Berger fragrances and you can make your own with some Isopropyl alcohol (99%) and 5-10 drops of essential oil.

Here are a few of the really lovely ones available on Amazon.


lampe berger versus sonic diffuser, www.moderngillie.com
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8 Replies to “Lampe Berger versus Sonic Diffuser. Which one is more effective?”

  1. I´ve never tried those ones before but, in my oppinion, the lamp berge will spread better the oils... this sounds very useful, thanks for sharing
  2. I have tried making my own Lampe Berger ingredients and they are smoky and I was told that the process is complicated and difficult to match the Lampe Berger fragrances they fragrances are expensive I agree that. Lampe Berger process is superior to using diffuser
  3. This was such a useful comparison review! I could not find any other data like this anywhere else on the web. Also, loved how you tried to make it as scientific as possible! I love the effort you put into making it as objective and equal as possible. Thank you so much! This is exactly the info i needed. I wonder though, besides the strength and making the house smell good, do you think the lampe berger also offers the same health benefits as the diffuser? Bec the way i understand it, the lampe berger attracts the bacteria and eliminates it by burning it. But the ultrasonic diffusers carry the molecules of the essential oil in the steam which is inhaled by the person and carried into the person’s system. Do you think the lampe berger can do that also? i.e. Do we get the benefits of the essential oils thru burning it with the lamp? Would love to know your thoughts! Thank you again!
    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I’m going to have to go with an I don’t know. I think some of the esters in the essential oils may be effected by the heating. The Lampe Berger is a sort of alcohol lamp so, relatively speaking, it burns quite cool compared to other fuels but some essential oils definitely don’t work well in the lamp in terms of having the true fragrance from before heating. I suspect those are the ones with the less heat stable esters. It’s hard to say as we don’t know which esters in an essential oil are beneficial versus smelling nice. I would think that diffusing would be better for experiencing the healthful effects because the oils have not been heated.
      1. Hmm. This makes so much sense. I dont know why I didnt think of that - how heat affects the molecules and esters and may make it less effective. I guess its the same logic as scented candles and essential oil burners affecting the eesential oil molecules. Thanks for your reply! Still thinking if I should get a lampe berger! But your thoughts really helped :)
        1. I use both. I love my Lampe Berger. When the house is smelling particularly pet-y the Lampe seems to clean the air better.
  4. Thank you for sharing this information. I was wondering what the difference is between burning essential oils in various percentages of alcohol? Is there a noticeable difference? (i.e. 70%, 90%, 91% and 99%). Why have you chosen 99% and not 91% or 90% for example?
    1. The lower percentages of alcohol mean there is more water in the solution which would not burn as well.

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