Permanent Lava Lamp




About: Always on the search for new creative things to make!

This is my first instructable so I hope you all like it!

Answers to Make-To-Learn Q's:

1. What did you make?
I made a working, permanent lava lamp and the materials for it are on the next page. Also, on my website, I show instructions for other not permanant lava lamps.

2. How did you make it?
I got the idea for this project from when I was talking to my science teacher for science fair project ideas. I did not work with anyone else and my plans changed when I poured the ingredients in too fast and had to restart. That was a disappointing setback that I had to improvise/fix, but, in the end, it turned out much better the second time and it was a good learning experience.

3. Where did you make it?
I worked on it at home, but did a few small research things at school. This project connected to other parts of my life because we had been learning about convection currents in science and this helped me understand the concept better and get an A in that chapter.

5. What did you learn?
My biggest problem was that I had poured the ingredients in too fast on my first trial. Then, I had to figure out what I did wrong and why the solution got very foggy. Eventually, I problem solved and figured it out. I am definitely proudest that the lava bubbles got so big and moved so much! I was so excited that I was really able to do it and accomplish my goal. I feel that that was a good life lesson to learn is failing and then getting back up and succeeding! It felt great. If I were to do it again, I would definitely not pour so fast so that my first try would be correct. Also, I would've added more 70% in the beginning so that I didn't have to do it again at the end to balance out the density mix of the formula.

Please know that this project will not be cheap and also is trial and error sometimes and you must have patience. It was a great learning experience and I am sure it will for you too. I am going to be teaching you how to make a permanent lamp and will not be using Alka-Seltzer, although, NEVER leave the lamp on too long because you will be using a glass mason jar. Please look at my website for more details of this project: 


Step 1: Step One: Materials

You will be needing the following materials: 
1 large mason jar
2 four ounce bottles of mineral oil
3 sixteen fluid ounce bottles of 70% isopropyl alcohol
2 sixteen fluid ounce bottles of 91% (or 90%) isopropyl alcohol
1 40W light bulb
1 60W light bulb (optional)
1 light bulb stand (as shown in picture)
1 light bulb stand cord (make sure it connects to the stand)
1 large aluminum bowl
1 drill

Step 2: Cut the Hole in the Bowl

Get the drill and cut a small hole in the middle of the aluminum bowl and make sure to get it centered.

Step 3: The Formula

This is the most complicated part of the whole project.
You need to make sure that you follow the steps very closely.
Throughout this step, you MUST POUR EVERYTHING SLOWLY.
And by slowly I mean REALLY SLOW.
If you go to fast at all, huge bubbles will plunge in the bottom and will make your lamp foggy.
Anyway, first you fill the jar 1/4 full with mineral oil. (You do not have to pour the first ingredient slowly though… )
After that, fill the jar another 1/4 full with 91% (or 90%) isopropyl alcohol.
Then, you can finally fill the rest of the jar nearing the top with 70% isopropyl alcohol. 
Close the lid and ensure it is sealed.
Finally, you can put the formula on the top of the bowl and put the light under it (make sure light is plugged in). 
*If you do not see any movement of bubbles after an hour, then you can add more 70% isopropyl alcohol to your discretion. This is why I believe you should leave some space in between the top and the formula before you put the formula all together on the bowl.

Step 4: You Are Done!

Simply wait for your lava lamp to start producing results! Thanks so much for reading and I really hope that I helped! Remember to never leave the lamp on too long because you are using a pressurized glass container which could explode/shatter if left on too long!
*You are personally responsible for all damage that is a result of your action even if you based your experiment off of this Instructable. I am not responsible for any damage or injury as a result to this Instructable.



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    16 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I know this is an old 'ible, but you need to put a base on the lamp, leaving live wires exposed is not a good technique.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    (i know, i'm a lil bit too much into this stuff already, but) add
    fluoresceine. It's pure green and really looks itchy, if you add
    uv-light (dunno about red additives, sry). Should work as fluoresceine
    is highly soluble in water as well as in oil.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I believe that it can be colored red. To be honest, I did not try coloring mine, but if you would like to color it, I have heard that oil based paint works if placed in the mineral oil, but I am not sure about coloring the alcohol. Sorry! Wish I could be more help.


    4 years ago

    I did all of this and still the oil just stays right in the very middle of the bottle.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago

    I added more 70% and it just went up to the top and stayed there. What am I doing wrong?


    5 years ago

    Buildone can u please tell me that how can u make this same lamp of red color...? Pls because I m going to gift this to my mother in 3 days

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago

    So so sorry for the late response haven't been online for months hope your present still worked out! I have heard that oil based paints worn when you put them in the mineral oil, although I have never myself tried this.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I haven't actually tried coloring it but I have heard the oil based paint will work if u put it in the mineral oil.


    5 years ago

    Buildone can u please tell me that how can u make this same lamp of red color...? Pls because I m going to gift this to my mother in 3 days


    5 years ago

    Oh yes! I forgot to
    add that in! Thank you!


    6 years ago on Step 4

    You did a great job explaining the details of your project. The instructions should allow almost anyone to make your lava lamp, great job!

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 4

    Thanks so much! This is my first instruct able too so all support means really a lot! Thanks so much!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    FYI: You can color the mineral oil by adding a little bit of oil based paint (like model paint), and you can add color to the alcohol with food coloring.