Fixing a Lava Lamp That’s Not Working

Is your lava lamp not working? These fascinating devices can bring ambiance to most rooms but they also need to be operated and maintained properly as there are quite a few reasons that can cause them to malfunction. So, if you find that the wax in your lava lamp is doming at the top, it’s clotting in the middle, that the liquid has become cloudy, or the heating coil has gotten dislodged, here are a few easy fixes you can employ yourself.

How to fix a clotting or doming lava lamp?

Clotting or doming of the wax in a lava lamp is one of the most common issues you will face. It often happens when the lamp has overheated. Is the lava lamp too hot? That’s probably because you’ve left it on for longer than you should which usually means more than 8-10 hours.

To fix this, you should:

  1. Check if the heating coil at the bottom of the lamp is positioned adequately. Normally, it should lie flat at the bottom.
  2. If the coil is displaced, turn the lamp off for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Start moving the lamp gently around to get the coil to fall down to the bottom. Don’t shake the lamp too much or the wax will start mixing with the liquid.
  4. Let the lamp rest for several hours before turning it back on again. A standard lava lamp should rest for at least 4-6 hours for every 8-10 hours of work.

How to fix the lava lamp wax stuck at top problem?

If a part of the wax in your lamp starts sticking to the top that’s usually because the less dense part of the lax has separated and has floated to the top. To fix that you should:

  1. Try putting a higher wattage bulb in the lamp first. The increased temperature will melt the wax at the top and it will fall back down.
  2. Try gently swirling the lamp to ehelp the wax at the top to fall. Don’t shake too much or the clear liquid will start getting cloudy.
  3. Try using a hairdryer to help melt the wax at the top from the outside. Make sure that you match the lamp’s bulb’s temperature.
  4. Alternatively, you can drain the liquid from the lamp, mix the two parts of the lax manually, and heat them up in the lamp. Then, let the wax cool off and add the liquid back in.

How to fix minor lava lamp clouding?

Lava lamps can easily get cloudy if you’ve accidentally knocked them over or if you’ve just shaken them a bit too much. This clouding effect happens when small wax particles get dislodged from the rest of the wax and mix with the normally clear lava lamp liquid.

So, how to fix a lava lamp after shaking it?

As long as the issue is not too significant, the fix should be easy:

  1. Switch the lava lamp for a while until the was settles at the bottom. Depending on the model, this can sometimes take up to 6 or 8 hours. It’s a long wait period but you can just do it overnight.
  2. Turn the lava lamp back on for about an hour so that the wax melts just a little bit. This should be enough for the floating wax particles and trace oils to soften up float back to the bottom with the rest of the wax.
  3. Turn the lava lamp off again after the hour. Leave it off for quite some time so all the wax can have enough time to resettle properly. 6 to 8 hours may be enough but you can be extra safe and just leave it off for a full 24 hours to make sure all the wax resettles properly.
  4. Turn the lamp back on and let it run normally for 8 to 10 hours. The repeated heating and cooling of the previous steps should have been enough for the wax to resettle and the lamp should be clear of any clouding now.

If this wasn’t enough and you’re still wondering how to fix a shaken lava lamp, we’ll talk about replacing the lava lamp liquid below.

How to replace a cloudy or dirty lava lamp liquid?

So, how to fix cloudy lava lamps that are so far gone that the floating wax particles just won’t resettle with the rest of the wax?

  1. Turn off the lamp for 2 to 3 hours so that the wax can cool down and fully settle at the bottom. You can unplug the whole lamp while you’re at it.
  2. Unscrew or pry off the top cover of the lamp. Be careful not to damage it as you’ll have to put it back on later on. You can always glue it back on if need be, however, so don’t worry.
  3. Carefully pour the liquid into the sink without disturbing the wax at the bottom.
  4. Gently rinse the inside of the lamp with 3-4 fluid ounces (~100 mL) of cold water. Make sure you wash down the inner sides of the lamp and then swish the liquid around the solid wax. Be careful not to break up the wax by shaking the lamp too much. You can repeat the rinsing process a couple more times if need be as long as you’re careful with the wax.
  5. Refill the bottle with fresh and clean water. Leave a couple of inches (~5 cm) of space at the top. Use filtered or distilled water for the best effect.
  6. Turn the lamp back on for 2 to 6 hours to heat it up again. Don’t put the lid back on yet.
  7. Add 2-3 drops of clear liquid dish soap once the lamp has warmed up. Do NOT add more than that or you’ll cause foaming, bubbling, and other issues. The soap is to help promote a proper separation between the liquid and the wax.
  8. Add ½ cup (150 g) of Epsom salt in a small glass of warm water. Then, use a straw or a pipette to slowly add the solution to the lava lamp. Add ~1 teaspoon at a time, wait 3-5 minutes, and add another one, and so on. Do this until the wax starts flowing normally through the lamp.
  9. Put the lid back on. Use glue if you have to.


Blogger, editor, developer who loves green living. Interested in photovoltaics and solar lighting. Reviewing solar products since 2013.

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