How to Fix a Shaken Lava Lamp

Do you have a lava lamp that is not quite right? Maybe it’s all clumped together, or the oil has congealed, leaving the lava looking more like sludge than molten rock.  Don’t throw the lamp away. Lava lamps are easy to fix, and with just a few materials, you can have your lamp working like new in less than an hour. Lava lamps are a classic item in the home. They can add some fun and light to any space. This blog post will give tips on fixing a shaken lava lamp, so it’s ready for use again! 

How to Fix a Shaken Lava Lamp

What is a Lava Lamp?

A lava lamp is a lighting device that looks like lava flowing inside a glass container. There are two main parts to a traditional lava lamp – a colored oil and an opaque liquid. The combination creates an interesting visual effect when the colors mix inside the glass tube, with small bits of debris.

The lava lamp’s design also includes a light at the base. Combining these features creates an interesting aesthetic that invites interaction and makes it look much more like liquid rock than oil floating in the water.

12 Ways on How To Fix a Shaken Lava Lamp:

1. Replace the Oil

Fill your lamp with some new lava lamp oil via a funnel to replace the old liquid, or use rubbing alcohol if you don’t want to buy any new supplies. The oil is used to keep the drops of wax afire and keep them intact. The alcohol evaporates faster than the new oil will, and you’ll find that your lava looks like it should after only about five minutes. 

2. Add A Little Water

If new oils don’t do the trick, add some water. The water will dilute the old oils and return them to a liquid state, which you can then replace with some good stuff.

3. Clean Out the Lamp

The last time your lava lamp was used, it may have gathered a lot of grime at the bottom of the glass container. You’ll need to remove that soot from the lamp if you want it to look perfect again. You can use a wet rag, some glass cleaner, or even an old toothbrush to scrub the inside of your lamp until the black stuff is gone. Be sure to clean all areas of grime, including between the wax balls that make up the “lava.” 

4. Use Rubbing Alcohol

If you don’t want to buy any new supplies, try using alcohol like rubbing alcohol instead. Rubbing alcohol will evaporate quickly, but the soot is caught on that first layer of wax again, so it doesn’t show as much and needs a little cleaning with a wet rag or some glass cleaner. 

Use Rubbing Alcohol

5. Clean the Wax

The wax in the lava lamp has collected a lot of dirt and grime that you’ll need to remove before your new oil works properly. Use a wet rag and some glass cleaner on the wax inside the lamp or an old toothbrush if really tough areas. Be sure to clean all sides of each ball of wax. 

6. Use a Fan to Make It Go Faster

If you’ve ever looked at lava from the outside of a lamp, you know how mesmerizing it can be. So if you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open after staring at one for too long, try turning on a box fan to make the wax move faster inside the lamp. You’ll get the same effect and not be so sleepy!

7. Break Up the Globs of Wax

Sometimes when a lamp is shaken, the wax gets all stuck together and doesn’t separate into individual balls any longer. If you can see that your lava isn’t quite right, try gently shaking it again to ensure all pieces are separated. If they still aren’t, try heating them with a hair dryer to soften the wax and then pull it apart. 

8. Add Smaller Drops of Wax To Keep It Going

If your lava lamp has too much space between the drops of the wax inside, add smaller drops that will fill in more area for the same amount of oil. You can adjust the size of the wax balls easily by adding or removing some from your lamp. If you need to remove a glob, simply place it on an old towel and microwave it for 10 seconds at a time until it is soft enough to remove with your fingers. 

9. Remove Wax From the Lid

After using your lava lamp for some time, likely, there is still a glob of wax stuck to the top. You can use a knife or an old t-shirt to get the wax off easily and then wipe up what remains with a wet towel.

10. Remove Soot Deposits From the Bulbs

After using your lava lamp for some time, there are likely soot deposits on the light bulbs. If this is the case, take a clean cloth and wipe gently at each of the four sides of the bulb until all residue has been removed. You should be able to see the light shine through the glass perfectly after this. 

Use Your Lava Lamp

11. Use a Lighter To Add Wax to Your Lamp

If you want to add more wax but don’t want to spend money on new oil, use a lighter on the end of your stick when adding it. It will help avoid expensive mistakes like spilling and wasting too much at once.

12. Add Food Coloring to the Wax

Not sure how long your oil has been in there? This is a good way to tell. Just add some drops of food coloring and let it get absorbed into different parts of the wax. After a few hours, you’ll be able to see where all of the colorings went, and if any new color appears anywhere ended up, you’ll know where it might be time to add some new oil. 

Continue reading to know more about how to fix a shaken lava lamp –

Step by Step Guide: How to Fix a Shaken Lava Lamp 

Step 1 – Turn the Lava Lamp on and Off Frequently:

The more the Lava Lamp is turned on and off, the better it works.  Since the Lava Lamp has to get in a “cool down” period before turning it back on again, turning it off as soon as you turn it on allows that cooling time to be shorted. This will help avoid any heat issues and prevent the wax from drying out too quickly. 

Step 2 – Use a Fan:

If you need to put your Lava Lamp on a timer, use a fan in conjunction with a timer.  A fan will create the illusion of “active” lava, which is what makes them beautiful. Without this effect, the lava lamp will be boring and not function properly. If your Lava Lamp is placed in an area where it’s difficult to set the fan properly, you may want to use a box fan.  Box fans are better at keeping the illusion of movement than smaller versions. Also, you’ll find that turning on the fan before the timer goes off will help achieve the same results.

Use a Fan in Conjunction With a Timer

Step 3 – Use This Lamp for About 10 Hours:

This helps to ensure that the wax is all melted properly, and at the same time, you can get a good idea of how much oil you’ll need. This will save you money as well. However, if your Lava Lamp is still new, try using it only for 1 hour until it’s warmed up enough, and then turn it off for about 4 hours. This should help you avoid heat damage by preventing the Lava Lamp from getting too hot.  

Step 4 – Unplug The Lamp and Cool It Down:

If the Lava Lamp is on a timer, you may want to unplug it after about 4 hours and let it cool down for another 2-4 hours. If this is not possible, turn off the lamp as soon as it goes out and leave it alone for a few minutes. It will take some time to reheat properly but will be much faster than letting it sit for 20-30 minutes. 

Use a Fan and Timer

Step 5 – Clean the Lava Lamp:

After you have used your Lava Lamp for a few hours, it’s time to give it some maintenance. Just remove the glass and bubble cap before you clean it. If there is old residual wax in the base, use a cloth that has been moistened with water to remove it. Then dry off all of the parts and reapply the lamp oil. To keep your Lava Lamp in great condition, clean it at least once a week to ensure that you don’t have any buildup or discoloration.

Step 6 – Change the Wax more Often:

If your Lava Lamp has been used consistently, you may want to change the wax after only 2-3 times of use. This will prevent any hardening or discoloration of your lamp and will help it to continue to look like new for a very long time.

Step 7 – Use a Heating Pad:

If your wax has gotten so cool that it has hardened, try using a heating pad or placing the base on something warm to help liquefy the wax. If all else fails and you can’t get it completely melted again, change out the wax for some new stuff!

Help Liquefy the Wax

Step 8 – Add the New Wax:

When you’re ready to use your Lava Lamp again, remove all of the old wax. If there is still some oil in the base, smear that on the sides of the new wax. You should see some melted wax coming out as soon as it’s placed inside the lava lamp. Then wait for about 16 hours to be sure the new wax is melted enough. 

6 Tips To Prevent Lava Lamp From Shaking:

  • Turn off the lights for a while. The darker it is, the harder time your lava lamp will display colors because of the absence of light. Lava lamps need light to change color, and if you can’t see them changing colors, they may appear shaken or have bumps forming inside due to water pressure caused by the friction of liquids.
  • Position your lava lamp where there are no vibrations or shaking movements. If you put your lava lamp on a shelf, for example, near some speakers that generate vibrations (especially bass sounds), it will produce bubbles inside the liquid and appear shaken. So move it away from any vibrating or shaking object.
  • Turn off your air conditioner or fan. If you have either one of those, they can create vibrations that will make your lava lamp appear shaken with bumps and bubbles inside the liquid because of water pressure caused by the friction.
  • Straighten out the plug. Or at least try to do so. A bent plug can cause a wire to be “loose”. This will have the same effect as a shaken lava lamp.
  • Don’t overcrowd your desk with many things around it, especially if they are tall objects and very close to your lava lamp (for example, books or a cupboard). If you do this, your lava lamp will likely be knocked out of place and appear shaken.
  • Don’t put anything on top of your lava lamp unless you use a glass base or have some clear tape underneath so that nothing can fall inside. You can only imagine what would happen if an object fell into the liquid while shaking the lava lamp.
Don't Overcrowd Your Desk


Fixing a shaken lava lamp is easy! All you have to do is get some hot water and pour it into the base. The shaking should stop within seconds of doing so. If this doesn’t work, check your power cord for any damage or ensure that the bulb isn’t loose in its socket.

Also, be aware that if your Lava Lamp has been on for more than 40 hours straight (without interruption), it may need new oil, which can be purchased at most department stores. We hope this blog post has helped you with how to fix a shaken lava lamp to solve any problems that your Lava Lamp may have and make it look as good as new!

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Jennifer Branett
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