“Reviving Those Vintage Lava Lamps With Your Own Homemade Concoction”

“Reviving Those Vintage Lava Lamps With Your Own Homemade Concoction”


Vintage lava lamps were all the rage back in the 1960s and 70s. With their hypnotic blobs of wax bubbling up and down, these retro lamps added a psychedelic decor element to any room. I’ve always admired the groovy aesthetic of lava lamps. Recently, I became interested in breathing new life into my grandmother’s old lava lamp which had long stopped flowing. After some research into DIY lava lamp recipes, I successfully revived her vintage lamp using common household ingredients.

In this article, I will share my journey of revitalizing a classic lava lamp using homemade concoctions. We’ll explore the science behind how lava lamps work, look at essential materials needed, review step-by-step instructions for the process, and discuss troubleshooting tips. By the end, you’ll be able to resurrect your own vintage lava lamp relic!

How Lava Lamps Work

To understand how to make a homemade lava lamp, we first need to understand what makes them flow. Here’s a quick science recap behind the inner workings of lava lamps:

The Liquid Components

  • Wax blobs – The “lava” is made up of blobs of colored wax suspended in liquid. Paraffin or mineral oil are commonly used.

  • Water-based liquid – The wax blobs are immersed in a clear, water-based liquid. This allows the wax blobs to float.

Heat Source

  • Lava lamps contain a light bulb or heating element at the base which heats up the liquid.

  • When the liquid is heated, the wax blobs become less dense than the surrounding liquid, causing them to float upwards.

  • As the blobs rise, they cool down, become more dense, and sink back down again.

  • This cycle repeats to create the hypnotic flowing motion.

Gathering Materials

Recreating a lava lamp fluid requires just a few common household items:

  • Glass container – Vintage lava lamps often used contoured bottles. But any heat safe glass container like a vase or jar will work.

  • Water-based liquid – I used filtered water for clarity. Other options are vegetable oil, vinegar, or alcohol.

  • Wax – Shavings of old candle wax provide the lava blobs. Crayon shavings also work.

  • Food coloring – For tinting the wax fun colors. Liquid watercolors work best.

  • Alka-Seltzer tablets – Dropping in half a tablet provides bubbling action.

  • Heat source – To mimic lava lamps, I used a 40W bulb in a clamp utility lamp.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Creating your own flowing lava lamp with household ingredients is simple. Just follow these steps:

Prepare the Glass Container

  1. Remove any labels from your glass container and wash thoroughly.

  2. Fill the container 3/4 full with your water-based liquid of choice.

Prepare the “Lava”

  1. Add a few spoonfuls of wax shavings to a heat safe bowl.

  2. Heat the wax in the microwave in 30 second bursts until just melted.

  3. Stir in a few drops of food coloring and mix until fully incorporated.

  4. Allow the tinted wax to cool until pliable but still pourable.

Assemble the Lava Lamp

  1. Pour the colored wax into the glass container with the liquid.

  2. Place your heated light source beneath the lava lamp.

  3. Turn on the light and wait for the wax blobs to start their flowing motion.

  4. Drop in 1/2 an Alka-Seltzer tablet and watch the bubbles boost the movement!

  5. Let the lamp run for 30-60 minutes to balance the temperature.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If the wax just forms a blob instead of distinct shapes, try smaller shavings.

  • If the wax stays stuck at the top or bottom, adjust your light wattage.

  • If the motion seems sluggish, try a different liquid base or warmer bulb.

  • If the wax isn’t bobbing, give the lamp more initial warm up time.

With some trial and error, you’ll be able to achieve longer lasting, better flowing results. Then sit back and relax while you gaze at your newly revived vintage lava lamp!


As you can see, resuscitating an aging lava lamp using homemade concoctions is totally doable! All you need is a glass vessel, water-based liquid, melted wax, food coloring, and a light bulb. Follow the instructions to create your own groovy, bubbling lamp. With some tweaking, you’ll be able to keep those retro wax blobs happily flowing for hours again. I had a blast resurrecting my grandmother’s lava lamp back to its fun 60’s look. Now her vintage lamp can mesmerize us for generations more!