Lava lamp: how to make a homemade

lava lamp

If you like vintage and retro aesthetics, you would surely love to have one lava lamp in your home. An ornament that became very popular a few decades ago, but now it seems to have returned, like so many other fashions. A classic object that was once quite groundbreaking and striking, and that now you can get in multiple ways or make one yourself.

In this article you will see the different options that you have at your fingertips to get a lava lamp, as much as you can create it yourself, if you are a maker and you love DIY and building things, or also go directly to buy some of the best copies that exist, such as the Mathmos brand.

What is a lava lamp?

lava lamp

The lava lamp is a decorative design invented by Englishman Edward Craven-Walker, the founder of the lighting company Mathmos. He devised it in 1963, and it was basically a lamp in which you could see drops of wax flowing as if it were a stream of lava (hence its name).

At that time it would be nicknamed as Astro Lamp (Astrolight). And when it was presented at the Hamburg trade fair in 1965, businessman Adolph Wertheimer would show interest in this article. Therefore, together with his partner Hy Spector, they would buy the rights to this invention. So, when their production began, the youth, especially hippies, began to be very interested in them in the 60s and 70s.

As for the its operationIt basically consists of a light bulb that illuminates a kind of glass bottle. Inside is transparent or colored water. Translucent wax is also added (it is usually mixed with tetrachlorethylene so that it has a density similar to water). A small metal cone will close the top, and the wire attached to the bulb with the switch will complete the model. When turned on, the heat from the bulb heats the water and wax, causing the wax to melt and flow, creating that psychedelic effect.

Due to some alcohols and plastic materials, united with the heat of the bulb, these lamps can be dangerous if they are kept on for many hours. In fact, its dangerousness has made it appear in one of the episodes of the series Thousand ways to die...

Being two immiscible liquids, both will always remain separate and are not diluted, like the water and oils used in some liquid watches. When the hot wax reaches the upper area, it loses temperature, and as it cools it contracts and its density increases, so it will precipitate and heat up again to rise.

The structure of its base will make it easier for the wax drops to come together in a mass. Also, you should know that the outside temperature also influences in the size and amount of waxes that are generated. In colder times there will be fewer and larger drops, and they will take longer to form. In the hottest times they will be more numerous and smaller, in addition to heating up faster.

How to have your own lava lamp

As I have mentioned, there are several ways to have a lava lamp at home. Here you have Some proposals...

Buy a lava lamp

Of course the easiest way is directly buy them. This guarantees quality and results, since they are produced using machinery and materials that you may not have at home to make it at home. On Amazon they have these recommended designs:

Create your own home design

Another option is to create a homemade lamp, but in these cases, since the joints and seals are not reliable, it is better that you avoid the electrical source. Therefore, this option can be a good practice to do an experiment with the little ones in the house, but the result later that will be less surprising. To create your own homemade lava lamp, and cheap, you can use the following materials:

  • Transparent bottle or jar (preferably glass). Better if it has a nice shape.
  • Vegetable oil, such as olive, sunflower, etc.
  • An effervescent tablet (such as an aspirin).
  • Water.
  • Liquid dye or ink to color the liquid. It can be food coloring.

Once you have all that, the steps to follow are:

  1. We start from the clean container. If it has any type of dirt or label, you will have to remove it.
  2. Fill the water container 1/4 full.
  3. Now, add the vegetable oil to fill it completely.
  4. Wait a few minutes for both liquids to separate and the water is on the bottom and the oil on top.
  5. Add a splash of liquid food coloring to color it. Being a water soluble colorant, it will affect only the water.
  6. Part 2 effervescent tablets or lozenges and add them to the container. When they come into contact with the water they will start to create a lot of bubbles and they will rise up to where the oil.
  7. When the bubbles cannot pass through the oil layer, they will fall back, which causes them to be in continuous movement. Therefore, an electrical source and bulb are not needed here for heating.
  8. Each time the effect of the bubbles wears off, you will have to add more pills. Therefore, the bottle should not have a complicated closure ...

If you want to give it a light touch, you can put another LED lamp or spotlight in the background to pass the light through it. But in no case use an internal installation such as purchased lava lamps ... Remember, water and electricity do not get along!


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