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What Kind of Bulb Goes in a Lava Lamp?

what kind of bulb goes in a lava lamp
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Lava lamps have become increasingly popular lately for several great reasons.

Invented in 1963, lava lamps when first released were dubbed as “Astro Lamps”, and today aren’t just great mood setters, but make eye-catching decorative pieces in any area of your home or office.

Lava lamps are not to be confused for traditional lighting, because they have a lot more going on for them under the hood such as the wax, and most importantly the source of lighting.

Speaking of which, many consumers ask what kind of bulb goes in lava lamp?

So, without further ado, here’s the lowdown on how lava lamps work, and the types of bulbs best suited for them.

How Does a Lava Lamp Work?

Lava lamps provide psychedelic lighting, something straight out of the 60’s, yet are quite fascinating, because they showcase a solid illustration of the Archimedes principle.

The idea behind the lava lamp is simple, where the goal is to completely change the density of the lava.

When the lava inside the chamber is less than the liquid, it floats and rises to the top surface, and sinks to the bottom when it’s denser.

Lava lamps use heat to change the volumes of the lava, which is simply a mix of coloring and wax, and the translucent liquid is mostly water.

The wax is slightly denser than the water, which means it is slightly heavier, therefore should always be at the bottom of the lava lamp

But a bulb at the bottom heats up the wax via a twisted metal wire, and causes the wax to rise.

Heat plays a pivotal role in varying the density of the wax, which gradually expands, and increases in volume.

The wax when heated is now less dense than the water, and no longer sinks, but instead rises.

As the wax gets further from the bulb, it cools which causes it to sink right to the bottom.

When it reaches the bottom, the bulb heats it up again, and the whole cycle starts over.

Can You Use LED Bulb in Lava Lamp?

LED bulbs are billed as energy efficient lighting, therefore do not produce a lot of heat.

The low heat generated by most LED bulbs is not enough to melt the wax inside the chamber of a lava lamp, which will prevent it from turning less dense than the water, and rising to the top surface.

In comparison with other types of bulbs such as incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs use roughly 90 percent of their energy to create light, and just 10 percent loss of heat, which again is not enough to heat up the wax in the lava lamp.

If you do use an LED light bulb, your lava lamp will still warm up, but in most cases will result in a poor display of lava.

It is best to use a bulb recommended by the manufacturer, which should be listed in the owner’s manual.

What Size Bulb for Lava Lamp?

With that said, you’re probably wondering what is the best size bulb for your lava lamp, given that LED bulbs are incompatible.

Well, the answer truly depends on how much heat the respective bulb produces.

But this also leads to another major problem, which is fact that inefficient lighting is slowly being discontinued across the globe.

Take for example the EU, which has banned the use of halogen lightbulbs around two years ago.

What makes things worse is that incandescent light bulbs do not offer great service life, so you will probably be replacing your lava light bulb often, depending on how much you use it. ‘

Getting back to the big question of what size bulb is best for your lava lamp, the answer depends on the size of your lava lamp.

If you have a classic 14.5-Inch/20-Ounce Classic Lava lamp, the Lava the Original Lamp is a great choice.

What Kind of Bulb Goes in a Lava Lamp?

Before revealing the kind of bulb best suited for a lava lamp, it’s worth noting that you don’t have to use a special bulb, but should use a bulb that’s specific to your lamp’s design.

It is highly important that you find the right kind of bulb for your model to increase the lamp’s longevity.

Good news is that lava lamp bulbs are easy to find, but here’s a few specifications to help you choose the right bulb.

If you have a massive 27” lava lamp, you will need a 100-watt lightbulb.

For a lava lamp that’s between 16.3” to 17”, it is recommended that you use a 40-watt lava lamp light bulb, whereas a 15-watt light bulb is a great fit for 11.5” lava lamps.

27” lava lamp – STAR LIGHTING 100-watt light bulb

The STAR Lighting 100-watt light bulb comes with a type R20 medium base, and measures 3.55” in length, and 2.5” in diameter, making it a great fit for 27” lava lamps.

16.3” to 17” lava lamps – 40-watt light bulb

The Haraqi Store 40-watt light bulb are a perfect fit for standard size lava lamps, and work well to heat the wax inside the chamber.

11.5” lava lamps – Lava 15-watt light bulb

If you have a smaller 11.5: lava light, the Lava 15-watt light bulb can heat the wax inside quickly.

It features a rotating plug, making it easy to fit into any electrical outlet, and can be plugged into any standard 120-Volt wall power outlet.

How to Replace Bulb in Lava Lamp?

Since the design and build quality of lava lamps can vary across manufacturers, it’s best to refer to your user guide on how to replace bulb in lava lamp.

But the instructions are common for most manufacturers, where you will first need a bulb that’s of the original size, socket and wattage.

Next, wait for the lamp to cool, after which unplug it from the power outlet.

Tilt the lava lamp, remove the glass globe, unscrew the current bulb, and set aside.

Lastly, screw the new replacement bulb back into the slot in a clockwise direction, and carefully place the glass globe back into place.

Most of the latest lava lamps can accommodate halogen bulbs, and it’s highly recommended that you do not use the light for more than 10 hours continuously.

But always refer to your manufacturer instructions before making any changes to your lava lamp.

Final Thoughts

Lava lamps are an old invention, and consists of several different components including a bulb that generates heat to allow the lava to flow to the top surface.

The bulb of the lava light just like any other bulb will need replacement at some point in time.

You may want to LED bulbs to increase energy efficiency, but they aren’t a good choice for lava lamps, since they do not generate enough heat to melt the wax inside the chamber.

Halogen and incandescent bulbs are great for lava lamps, as they generate the right amount of heat to melt the wax.

They do however have a shorter lifespan, but on a brighter note are inexpensive and easily available.

You can find the recommended bulb size in your manufacturer guide or refer to the suggestions mentioned in this article.



How do you replace a lava lamp light bulb? Is it a special kind? – Quora

Finding the Right Bulb for Your Lava® Lamp – Lava® Lamp

Can You Use LED Bulbs In Lava Lamps? – LED & Lighting Info

Does a lava lamp still heat up if you change the bulb to an energy efficient bulb? – Quora