Have you ever wanted to own one of those groovy lamps you’ve seen in the movies or already have one on display in your room? Well, Spencer’s is an expert in lava lamps and all things fun, cool, and even trendy (or maybe retro in this case?). Although a lava lamp seems like the type of decoration that you can just turn on and off without ever worrying about, you actually have to take care of them. In fact, there are probably a few more things about them that you didn’t know. So, let’s dive right in.

Welcome to Lava Lamps 101. In this class, we’re going to cover everything about lava lamps that you need to know but probably don’t. Don’t worry—there won’t be a final exam.

Facts About Lava Lamps

Invented sometime between 1948 and 1954

Every website we visited told us something different about who actually invented the lava lamp, so let’s just say it was either Edward Craven Walker or Donald Dunnet. In reality, it’s nbd. Cool guy, girl, or whoever it was. Because of them, we have a ton of awesome lava lamps!

The lava lamp’s original name was the “Astro Globe”

Once it was brought into the U.S., it was renamed “Lava Lite Lamp” by the American right holders. We guess it somehow transitioned into just lava lamp after that because it was shorter. And, ya know. #lazy

Confused? Us, too. It always seemed like everyone had a lava lamp in the 60s and 70s, right? But when were you seeing that? Probably on TV shows and movies that were set in that era but filmed decades later. Remember Austin Powers? We’d like to think that this International Man of Mystery is to blame for their revived popularity.

Help you stay calm and relaxed

A lot of people say that the glow and movement of the wax in lava lamps help them unwind and de-stress. Since the lamp itself isn’t bright enough to illuminate an entire room, it helps your eyes relax instead of being strained. And some say that if you focus on the movement of the wax, you may even fall into a meditative state.

Lava Lamps
Lava Lamps
Lava Lamps

How to Take Care of Your Lava Lamp

Only store and use away from direct sunlight

Pop quiz! What did we learn about letting other things heat our lava lamps? That’s right! The sun is the brightest, hottest, and most powerful light source in the universe. So, yeah. Even the sun should stay away from this one.

Don’t move or transport when warm

If you do, the liquids can combine and make it all cloudy and gross-looking. And who wants a gross-looking lamp in their room?

If it does get cloudy, don’t panic

We have a solution! Let the wax settle at the bottom of the globe and completely cool down. Then, turn on the lamp until the wax breaks up. After breaking begins, shut off again until it cools, then repeat. Running the lamp in short “bursts” will help clear it up. And like we already said, do not move or shake the lamp while warm to ensure it won’t happen again.

If you use it a lot, the bulb will burn out

Didn’t realize that lava lamps even had bulbs? It’s probably because you never really looked under the surface, but that light and heat have to come from somewhere! If your lava lamp bulb burns out, you can buy replacement lava lamp bulbs here! Once you carefully lift the globe from its base, you’ll see where the bulb sits. It will also tell you on the inner base what wattage bulb to use. And we’ll say it one more time to make sure you remember, but avoid overheating your lava lamp! Only use a bulb with the same wattage as directed and not one higher or lower.

Lava Lamp Support

Setup and assemble your lava lamp:

  1. Ensure that the lightbulb is tightly screwed into the base
  2. Plug your lava lamp into a power outlet and place it out of direct sunlight or extreme temperatures
  3. Switch the power on (located on the cord)
  4. Be patient! It will take 4-6 hours for your lava lamp to flow during its first use. Moving forward, it should take around 2 hours to start flowing during future uses

Lava Lamp FAQs

My lava lamp arrived cloudy, what should I do?

Sometimes, due to transit, you may occasionally receive a cloudy lava lamp. If the lamp arrives cloudy, run it for 6-8 hours a day for seven consecutive days. Make sure that the lamp has had the chance to completely cool down before turning it on again each time. Cloudy globes are NOT considered defective.

What if my lava seems like it isn’t flowing as it should?

Lava lamps operate best at 69 degrees Fahrenheit and on a flat and stationary surface. If the lava is not flowing as anticipated, the lamp may be getting too hot or too cold. Make sure that the lamp is not placed in front of any windows or a cooling/heating unit or vent. You may also want to check and make sure that the coil is flat and the bulb is installed properly.

My globe has spots and the light is shining through them, what does that mean?

Since the globe is made of glass it may contain air bubbles and maker’s marks. This is perfectly normal and not a defect.

What if the lava color is not what I expected or has changed?

The lava color may be darker or lighter than anticipated, but after a few runs the color will start to adjust. Also, please keep in mind that you are combining two colors. For example, even though the lamp states yellow lava and blue liquid, the lava may have a greenish tint. DO NOT place the lava lamp in front of a window as this will cause the colors in your lamp to fade.

What do I do if the coil is floating in my lamp?

Keep your lamp operating for about 4 hours or until all the lava is melted and the coil should automatically drop back to the bottom of the lamp. Also always be sure to store your lava upright. If the coil does not drop down, then twirl the globe gently in the base and the coil will drop. DO NOT shake the lamp.

My light died, what bulb do I need to replace it?

View the chart below to find the replacement bulb needed for your lamp.

14.5″20 oz globe25 Watt (refrigerator bulb)
17″32 oz globe40 Watt A15 (appliance bulb)
16.3″52 oz globe40 Watt A15 (appliance bulb)

5 “don’ts” to keep your lava flowing:

  1. Don’t loosen or remove the bottle cap on the globe as breaking the seal will both ruin your lamp and void your warranty.
  2. Don’t move or shake your lava lamp while in use. This may cause the lamp to become cloudy and the lava to break apart. If this happens, shut the lamp off immediately and let it sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Then, turn it back on and run as normal. This will hopefully remedy the situation but your lamp could still have permanent damage. Remember, when in use the lava lamp is hot – please be cautious when handling it.
  3. Don’t place the lamp in direct sunlight as the colors could fade.
  4. Don’t store or operate the lamp in extreme cold or heat.
  5. Don’t run your lamp 24/7; we recommend no more than 8-10 hours at a time

Need more answers? You can reach our guest services team via the following methods:

  • Email us anytime at guestservices@spencergifts.com
  • Call us at 1-800-762-0419 and speak to someone:
  • M-F: 10am – 9pm
  • Sat: 11am – 8pm
  • Sun: 12pm – 7pm
  • We also have late-night support 7 days a week! Simply click on the live chat option at the top of spencers.com.

Okay, so if you got a little worried about how much work a lava lamp actually is, we’ve hoped we eased your mind! It’s really not so bad. Trust us; we’ve played around with thousands of lava lamps over here. With tons of new colors, styles, and sizes coming in all the time, there will always be at least one that you’re bound to fall in love with and that would look perfect in your room.

We just got a ton of new lava lamps for you to check out! So either run over to your closest Spencer’s to watch it flow in person or browse all the lava lamps we’ve got here! We want to see which lava lamp you grabbed up. Send us a pic of your fave to spencersblog@spencergifts.com for a chance to be featured in a feature post.