Lava Lamp gets a new life

For years my lava lamp has been sitting dead in my classroom. Every now and again I would attempt to see what was wrong and assess the situation.  Not wanting to be overly aggressive, I would put it back on the shelf and try again later.  The issue started with the light bulb being stuck in the socket.  Trying to spin it out was loosening the socket inside the base.  Eventually, the glass bulb spun off its base, leaving the base of the bulb stuck in the socket.  So, the lava lamp was put back on the shelf with a perplexed hmmm and ignored for a time until a new approach could be rendered.  

The next attempt I became more aggressive as I used a pair of needle nose pliers, and I proceeded to become more forceful with the removal of the stuck base of the bulb from the socket. I finally managed to remove the base, but the socket was even looser than before.  I went ahead and installed a new bulb hoping it was just a loose socket until the bulb sparked, popped, and a visible arc of electricity could be seen inside the lava lamp base.  I quickly unplugged the lamp and set it on the shelf again, but this time I had reached a limit on how aggressive I would become with this lamp.  I could toss lamp base in the garbage, for it angered me so, but I decided that opening it would be a better solution. 

The video shows how I pried open the base, discovered the defect in the loose base and arcing wires that was never attached well from the factory.  I decided to make some improvements and put it back together the best I could. Be aware that the bottom of the lava lamp base looks completely trashed compared the beautiful machine finish it once had, but I used the original felt to hide the base’s battle scars.

I hope you enjoy the video, and it inspires to you fix a lava lamp you may have put on the shelf.

The story behind the story. What is your story? 

Living in the freshman dorm in college was an amazing experience.  Meeting people from across several states. During the study sessions to pass our classes, we would all find ways to detox and take a break.  My dorm room neighbors had thrown out their bunk beds and installed hammocks to sleep in.  They placed a lava lamp in the room, turned the main lights off to watch the “lava” and we would relax to the sounds of U2.  It was great.  We would talk about whatever came to mind while enjoying the different shapes as the wax flowed to the surface and sink slowly to the bottom and repeat.  Now, lava lamps may invoke visions of the early drug culture of the 1960s and 1970s, but this was not the case with us.  We were three guys talking about girls, politics, God, and motorcycles.  We were in the 1990s attending a private Christian university and contemplating our existence in the universe, without the drugs, but with the religion. 

When I found my beautiful wife and became married, she bought a lava lamp for me to have in my classroom in 1999.  I have had this lamp pretty much my entire teaching career and as the end on my career seems to be somewhere closer on the horizon; I decided to activate the lamp once again and finish teaching with the fortitude I started out with in my career. 

What is your lava lamp story?

8 thoughts on “Lava Lamp gets a new life

  1. Next time…..enlarge the big hole so the lamp socket will slide through the hole. Remove the strain relief where the cord goes through the side….squeeze the “when you carefully look it’s the right place” black part with the corner of the pliers…and remove the strain relief.


  2. I just placed mine on the woodstove where it’s not the hottest but close. Without the base for electricity. I also put blue food coloring in. And the lava is yellow


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