Lava lamps provide a unique combination of light and motion, and are a preferred choice in the therapeutic lighting segment.
These decorative lamps serve as a focal point, and are a great way to set a relaxing mood in any space.
Lava lamps are powered by water and wax, and work by heating the wax via a lightbulb located at the bottom of the lamp.
Sometimes however the lava lamp wax when heated can get stuck at the top.
If you’re experiencing the same issue of your lava lamp wax being stuck at the top, then read on to find out why the lava lamp wax won’t melt, and how to fix the stuck lava lamp wax issue.
Table of Contents
What Are Lava Lamps?
Before getting into why your lava lamp wax is stuck at the top, it’s a good idea to under what exactly are lava lamps, and how they work, so that you can easily fix the issue.
Invented in 1948 by Edward Craven Walker, lava lamps were originally dubbed as “Astro Globes”, and then later as “Lava Lites”.
One of the noteworthy features of lava light is that no two lights are built the same, and are available in an array of different styles, colors, and different densities (the amount of mass per unit of volume).
Lava lamps are typically shaped as a decorative tube that contains an oily, colored fluid that goes up and down throughout the lamp chamber.
The fluid changes shape, and breaks down into globules of different sizes, as it rises and drops in the chamber.
What Kind of Wax is in a Lava Lamp?
Even though lava lamp manufacturers are slightly reluctant to share their secret ingredient in their lava lamps, but what we do know is that the wax is mostly made from paraffin.
This wax or lava has a chemical density of roughly 0.9, which allows it to easily sink on cooling.
Paraffin is a petroleum-based wax that drops to the bottom when the lamp is switched off, and rises up in the lava light chamber when it’s heated with the lightbulb and expands.
The lava cools when it reaches the top of the lamp chamber, and shrinks in size, which is what causes it to drop towards the bottom — a never ending process until the lave lamp is switched off.
Why Won’t the Wax Melt in My Lava Lamp?
The lava in your lava lamp should flow smoothly at all times, but if it doesn’t, then you may have an issue or two to deal with.
You already know how a lava lamp works, where the bulb at the bottom heats up the wax, which causes it to melt into the flowing lava.
There is also a coil located at the bottom of the lava lamp, right below the hard wax, which works in conjunction with the bulb to keep the lava melted at all times, so that it doesn’t cool and return to a solid wax base.
Therefore, if your lava lamp wax isn’t melting, then the coil is the first thing you’d want to check to ensure it is in good working order.
Furthermore, you should also inspect the bulb of the lamp, because that is the component that mainly causes the wax to melt into lava.
If there’s nothing wrong with the coil or bulb, then you just have to have patience, as each lamp is built differently with regards to the density of the wax and oil.
Hence, some lava lamps may take longer to heat up than others.
If the wax isn’t melting after following the aforementioned troubleshooting steps, then your best bet is to buy a new one.
Why is the Lava in My Lava Lamp Stuck at the Top?
If the lava in your lava lamp is going up, but getting stick on top, and not dropping, first check to ensure that the cap on top is on tight.
The camps of most lava lamps are topped with a decorative cover, and are designed to seal the contents within the bottle.
In most cases, the cap is sealed to the top of the lava lamp using a strong adhesive, but some cheap lava lamps may come with poor quality adhesives, which may cause the cap to loosen or come undone.
However, there are also some lava lamp models that come with a screw cap that you can simply unscrew to replenish the water inside the lamp to make it look almost new.
Sometimes the wax gets stuck on top of the lava lamp because there’s an error in the flow, mostly caused by overheating.
How to Fix Lava Lamp Wax Stuck at the Top?
If your lava lamp cap uses an adhesive as a sealing agent, you should never attempt to remove it.
If you have, and it’s not sitting tight, then contact the manufacturer, as this is probably the reason why the lava is stuck on top of the lamp.
Another reason why the lava in the lava lamp may be getting stuck at the top is due to the wrong wattage bulb, so try replacing it with another compatible lava lamp bulb.
If your lava lamp is still not functioning properly after replacing the bulb, then it’s probably overheated.
To solve the lava lamp overheating issue, turn the lamp off for a few hours.
But it is worth noting that lava lamps should never be allowed to run for more than 10 hours continuously.
You should also check the surroundings of the lava lamp, as it should ideally be operated between 69 – 74 degrees F, so do not place in under direct sunlight, or near a radiator or TV.
Can You Replace the Wax in a Lava Lamp? How to Replace It?
Manufacturers do not recommend opening a lava lamp, because it’s not only a complex process, but in most cases will void the warranty.
But if you still want to go ahead, then here’s how to go about it.
First, you will have to refer to the owner’s guide of your lava lamp to ensure that the contents inside the chamber are non-toxic.
If you aren’t sure if the contents are non-toxic or if they are, then opening the lava lamp to replace the wax is not recommended, but you can do so with precaution if you really want to take the risk.
Start by turning on the lamp, and leave it on for a few hours, so that the wax can melt fully into a liquid.
Once the wax is liquefied, and moving smoothly throughout the lamp chamber, turn off the lamp.
Grab a pair of kitchen mittens to hold the lamp, as it will probably be very hot at this point.
Remove the lid with a bottle opener, and pour the contents from the lava lamp chamber into a large ceramic bowl.
Place the bowl with the contents into the fridge, and leave it there until the wax is hard.
Next, scoop the old wax with a spoon or similar utensil, and place it in a microwaveable measuring cup.
Microwave the wax on high for around 40 seconds or so or until the wax is melted.
Once melted, measure the amount of melted wax in the measuring cup.
Since the wax used in your lava lamp is paraffin wax, you can buy some paraffin wax, melt it in the measuring cup, and make sure it if the same amount as the old wax.
Place the new melted wax in the fridge until it turns solid, add to the chamber with the other contents from the bowl, and seal tight.
Lava lamps make great additions to any space in your household, and mostly do not incur any problems.
However, one of the common problems that you may experience with your lava lamp is the lamp wax stuck on top of the chamber.
This issue is mainly caused by a faulty heating coil, but if not, you can try the aforementioned solutions.
If they don’t work, it is best to get in touch with the manufacturer, but you should try and refrain from opening the lamp yourself to check the issue or to replace lava lamp wax.