Useful Tips

What is a lava lamp and how to do at home


wikiHow works on the principle of a wiki, which means that many of our articles are written by several authors. When creating this article, 125 people (a) worked on its editing and improvement, including anonymously.

The number of sources used in this article: 7. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.

Have you ever found yourself unable to look away from a lava lamp? You hold it in your hand, shift it a little and observe how the liquid is divided into various forms of different colors and shades. And then you notice the price tag and put the lamp in place. If you feel sorry for your wallet, you can make a lava lamp from improvised materials - just follow the steps below.

History of occurrence

The lava lamp was invented by the English engineer Edward Craven Walker in the 1960s. Its production was established in Poole, UK. At the Brussels Fair in 1965, the glow of the device was seen by famous entrepreneurs Adolf Wertheimer and High Spector. They bought the rights to sell the product in America, which was called Lava Lite. Wertheimer subsequently moved away from this business. The first lava lamp samples by Edward Craven Walker

Spektor, on the contrary, began to actively develop production, as well as sales of fixtures, at his own factory in Chicago. There are new colors, manufacturing techniques, many design options. The 70-80s of the last century were marked by the fact that the possession of these devices has become a fashion trend. Warm original glow really liked the fans of the lamps. They were called Lava Lamp. These devices are very fond of the inhabitants of America and Europe.

After the 90s, the production of original fixtures was moved to China. Shortly thereafter, Walker, who owns the rights to his invention throughout Great Britain and Western Europe, sold them to Cresside Granger. Her company Mathmos has been successfully producing these products in Poole (UK) to this day. The production of fixtures returned to where it started. This device was recognized as the most spectacular decoration of the home interior. to contents ↑

Operating principle

Consider the design of the device. The sealed container is filled with two dissimilar substances - paraffin, which has a semi-liquid state, and glycerin. Under natural conditions and normal room temperature, paraffin drowns in glycerin. An incandescent lamp located on the lower flange of the base of the device heats the layers of the substance to the desired temperature.

When the lamp turns on, the paraffin softens when heated. It becomes lighter, as a result of which it slowly moves up the cylinder of the device body. The process of changing the temperature regime is uneven. As temperature jumps, paraffin floats randomly. Moving to the surface of the liquid, it moves away from light and heat. Schematic diagram of the functioning of the lava lamp

Having reached the surface, paraffin freezes, stops moving, then slowly drops. Being near the bottom, from the lamp device it again heats up. The whole process is repeated anew. Air bubbles throughout the thickness of a multi-colored illuminated liquid form at different speeds, mix, take bizarre shapes and sizes.

Lava lamp has gained immense popularity among aesthetes around the world. Now it is sold in all gift shops on the planet. Instead of paraffin, natural wax is often used. Color options lava lamps

This product is an indispensable attribute of every children's bedroom. The highlighted layers slowly, smoothly and beautifully move along the transparent cylinder of the bulb, resembling a multi-colored volcanic lava. Contemplating the spectacle, when the lava is working, a person is immersed in a state of relaxation. At the same time, his body cells relax as much as possible, and the body gets the opportunity to have a good rest, recharging with positive energy for the future.

A light bulb that illuminates the moving masses of paraffin along with glycerin can be of different capacities. The main requirement: to calculate its characteristics so as to prevent ignition of nearby objects. With the functioning of the lava, the entire interior of the room comes to life. All surrounding objects become fabulous, shimmer with various exotic colors. Large table lava lamp to contents ↑

How to do it yourself

To understand how to make a lava lamp with your own hands at home, you need to return to its device. The device invented by Walker was a glass jar filled with liquid oil mixed with paraffin. An ordinary light bulb mounted under the tank heated the mixture. According to physical laws, paraffin rushed up. Reaching the top, he cooled and fell.

Lava electric lamp

Required blanks:

  • incandescent light bulb
  • vertical clear plastic cylinder,
  • filling mixture to create visual effects.

Fasten the bulb under the plastic cylinder. Pour a mixture of glycerin and semi-liquid paraffin into a vertical cylinder. The rays of the light source illuminate the drops of the mixture inside the cylinder, which move slowly, dance, creating a bizarre game of shapes. In the included lava, the temperature difference between the upper and lower layers of the mixture is several degrees. Making electric lava lamps at home

Due to this difference, the oil balls slowly float, waltz, roll around inside the liquid substance. From the heat of the lighting element, they rise, and then, cooling, fall. It repeats endlessly. A wide range of such fixtures is presented in online stores. There are designs of various shapes, colors, configurations: rocket, tree, house, ball, pyramid, trapezoid.

From juice, pop and vegetable oil


  • liquid oil - sunflower, olive, corn,
  • food coloring or fruit / vegetable juice,
  • transparent jar
  • any effervescent tablet.

The can is filled with juice by two-thirds of its volume. The remaining volume is filled with liquid oil. When the liquids settle, a clear boundary will appear between them. Now you need to throw an effervescent tablet into the jar. The effect is incredible! The fluid becomes alive. It is seething, pulsating, there are bubbles of various colors, shapes, sizes. Watching this process is a pleasure. Lava lamp from juice, pop and vegetable oil to the content ↑

How to choose

The products of Russian manufacturers PUL1020 and Start Lava enjoy tremendous popularity among lava connoisseurs. Devices delight the eye with their iridescent sparkles of different colors, playing inside a transparent plastic flask. Affordable prices, bright design, excellent consumer characteristics attract buyers of this type of fixtures.

The choice of lava lamp is always up to the user. Designers recommend making their choice, observing the tonality of the overall design of the room where the lamp will operate. To your taste, you should choose warm or cold tones, the speed of the internal masses of the device. Then, resting in a home environment, a person will receive a maximum of positive energy and tune in to a wave of good mood.

DIY temporary lava lamp

Of course, you can go to the gift shop and purchase this piece of furniture. But it’s not so cheap. Let's look at how to make a lava lamp from improvised materials?

The first thing we need is a large plastic bottle of lemonade or mineral water. In general, absolutely any transparent container that tightly closes with a lid will do, but a plastic bottle is the best option. In order to achieve the most effective result, it is better to take a capacity of at least 0.5 liters.

Next, you need to fill the bottle with oil for three quarters of the total volume, and fill the remaining quarter with water and about 10 drops of food coloring. The solution should be a saturated color. Now you need to add salt or any effervescent tablet, such as Alka-Seltzer or Vitamin C.

Next, close the bottle tightly and shake it. You will immediately notice how droplets of liquid begin to form, gradually connecting with each other. But this process will not be constant. Over time, the drops will cease to form, and you will have to add more salt or effervescent tablets.

Such a lava lamp, made with your own hands, is good because it is absolutely harmless and safe, which is important if it will be used by children as well.

To make everything look even more impressive, install some kind of light source at the bottom of the bottle so that the beam is directed upward on the liquid. Thus, the light will illuminate these drops, and the lava lamp will look much more spectacular. With your own hands, you can destroy it if the light source gives a lot of heat, which can melt the plastic.

How does a temporary lava lamp work?

What does a lava lamp consist of? Its mechanism is that, due to different densities, water and oil do not mix, as a result of which bubbles form that freely move in the liquid. And adding salt or an effervescent tablet makes the reaction even more spectacular.

Permanent lava lamp

How to make a lava lamp that will work continuously? It should be done by adults, since alcohol and oil are used here, which can easily ignite during heating.

For lamps sold at the store, a special mixture of liquid waxes is used. But at home, you can try to achieve a similar result. If you try, then, in principle, it is quite possible to get a liquid in the end, which will be interesting to overflow.

The base of the lamp will be any glass container. In this case, plastic should not be used, as it melts easily. As those same iridescent bubbles will be mineral or baby oil.

There is no specific amount of oil to be added. Pour in approximately, as you can add later if it turns out to be small. If you want a more interesting effect, you can try to make a lava lamp based on oil paints, but keep in mind that over time, the oil can separate from the dye, resulting in an ugly precipitate.

Now you need to add a mixture of 70 percent medical alcohol and 90 percent isopropyl alcohol. They can be purchased at any pharmacy. The mixture should consist of 6 parts of 90 percent alcohol and 13 parts of 70 percent. If you observe the indicated proportions, then the liquid will turn out to be about the same density as mineral oil.

After you have added all the ingredients for the lamp, you need to leave the mixture for a while, so that it settles. Oil should eventually be at the bottom.

Lava Lamp Heater

The next step is to heat the mixture. First of all, you need to tightly close the jar. Next, you need to make such a design: take a heat-resistant surface, such as a flower pot, put it upside down. Under it you need to put a heat source, and put our jar at the bottom. Over time, the lamp and the mixture inside it will heat up, the oil will expand more than alcohol, and will move up and down.

An incandescent lamp is quite suitable for creating a heating device. Its power depends on the volume, but it is better to take no more than 40 watts.

Device and manufacturing ability

This device was invented in the mid-60s by the Englishman Walker, and was a glass jar containing oil and liquid paraffin. A simple light bulb was installed under it, which heated the tank. According to the laws of physics, heated paraffin rose up, and when cooling, it again sank to the bottom. This bewitching movement of bizarre forms of paraffin and gave rise to the widespread distribution of the lava lamp.

So, even if it was possible to manufacture such a device even in the middle of the last century, does it mean that making a lava lamp at home these days should not be difficult?

Temporary Lava Lamp

So, for the manufacture we need the presence of some ingredients:

  • olive or sunflower oil,
  • any dye, preferably food, but even ordinary juice will do,
  • bank,
  • effervescent tablet (any).

How to make a lava lamp at home is a simple answer. It is only necessary to fill the container with juice or dye by two-thirds, the remaining part is filled with sunflower or olive oil. After some time, you can see a clear boundary between the fluids. It remains only to throw a tablet of pop into a jar and watch what is happening, enjoying the incredible effect in the resulting device.

This method is completely safe, and therefore it can be used in educational games with children, while explaining the laws of physics. By the way, if there are no effervescent tablets, ordinary table salt will perfectly play their role, although the reaction will be somewhat slower, but still quite sufficient.

For a stronger effect, it is possible to use a lamp aimed at the lamp. Then the emerging bizarre bubbles will sparkle in the rays of light, which will give even more beauty.

Permanent Lava Lamp

Of course, a temporary lava lamp is completely safe, but you always want something more. In this case, you can make such a device yourself on an ongoing basis. But you just always need to remember safety precautions when using it, such a lamp must be kept out of the reach of small children, because during the work it gets very hot.

So, to make a lamp with your own hands, you need a mixture of distilled water with glycerin at the rate of 1/1, a paraffin candle, a little beads and a glass container.

The jar must be filled in 2/3 with water and glycerin, stir in it a spoonful of table salt and pour a little beads. After that, a candle is melted in a water bath, and paraffin is poured into a jar. Lava lamp is almost ready, it remains only to build a heater for it.

As such, any metal structure with a 25-watt lamp inside, which can serve as a burner for a can, can serve as such. Well, after that you can turn it on and enjoy it. A self-made lava lamp is ready, but there are some nuances of such a device.

Firstly, the lamp needs some time in order for the expected reaction to appear, since paraffin must melt in glycerin.

Secondly, in no case should you leave such a home-made device unattended, as well as keep it on for more than eight hours.

Making a lava lamp is quite simple, it will bring a lot of pleasure, and therefore it is worth a try. The main thing is not to forget about safety measures, so that joy does not turn into trouble once. Well, in general, it doesn’t matter if you bought a lava lamp in a store or made at home. The priority is pacification and rest from a hard day.