How to Make a Homemade Lava Lamp That Glows: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lava lamps, those mesmerizing tubes filled with colorful blobs in perpetual motion, hold a captivating allure. Their mesmerizing dance of light and shadow has captivated minds for generations. But what if you could create your own miniature world of glowing wonder?

While replicating the exact formula and performance of a commercial lava lamp might be challenging, this guide explores the exciting realm of DIY lava lamp creation – a fun science experiment with a touch of artistic flair.

Important Safety Note: Before we delve into the DIY world, safety is paramount. This project involves working with hot liquids and glass containers. Adult supervision is essential for anyone under the age of 18.

  • Heat Resistant Glass: Use a sturdy, heat-resistant glass container. Avoid thin or fragile glass that could crack under heat.
  • Parental Guidance: If attempting this project with children, ensure close adult supervision throughout the process.
  • Hot Liquids: Boiling water and melted wax can cause burns. Use caution while handling hot materials and allow them to cool completely before touching.
  • Electrical Safety: While we’re not using electricity in the lamp itself, be mindful of nearby electrical cords or outlets to avoid any potential hazards.

How to Make a Homemade Lava Lamp That Glows?

Commercial lava lamps rely on a specific combination of wax and a denser liquid that doesn’t readily mix. As the lamp heats, the wax expands and becomes less dense, rising through the liquid.

Once it cools near the surface, it sinks back down, creating the mesmerizing flow. While replicating the exact formula might be tricky, we can create a similar effect using readily available materials.

Materials Needed

  • Heat-resistant glass container (16oz to 24oz mason jar is a good option)
  • Vegetable oil (clear or baby oil)
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets (original formula works best)
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Craft glitter (optional)
  • Epsom salts (optional)
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Decorative items (optional – marbles, small seashells)

Step By Step Guide To Make Glowing DIY Homemade Lava Lamp

Filling the Base

Pour vegetable oil into your chosen glass container, filling it about ¾ of the way. You can use clear oil or add a few drops of food coloring to create a base tint.

Introducing the Wax

Here’s where the creativity comes in! You can’t replicate the exact commercial wax, but we can create a substitute. Paraffin wax is ideal, but if unavailable, experiment with readily available alternatives. Here are a few options:

Clear Wax Option

Melt clear candle wax in a double boiler (improvise by placing a smaller heat-resistant bowl over a pot of simmering water) until liquid. Add a few drops of food coloring for a vibrant hue. Let the wax cool slightly before proceeding.

Bath Bead Option

For a more playful twist, consider using clear bath beads. These often come in various colors and dissolve easily in hot water. Fill a small bowl with hot water and add enough bath beads to create a thick, translucent mixture.

Creating the “Lava”

Here’s where the magic (and a bit of science) happens! We need to create something denser than the oil that will rise and fall when heated. Here are two options:

The Classic Alka-Seltzer Technique

Carefully drop a whole Alka-Seltzer tablet into the oil. The tablet will fizz and sink, but as it dissolves, it releases carbon dioxide gas. These gas bubbles will attach to the wax or bath bead mixture, causing them to rise.

The Epsom Salt Option

Dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salts in a small amount of hot water (about ¼ cup). Carefully pour this concentrated Epsom salt solution into the oil. The denser salt solution will sink below the oil layer, creating a distinct layer. This layer will rise slightly when heated due to thermal expansion.

Adding Sparkle (Optional)

If desired, add a touch of sparkle to your lava lamp by sprinkling a small amount of craft glitter into the oil before adding the “lava” element.

Securing the Wax (Optional)

For the bath bead option, you might consider securing the “lava” layer at the bottom of the container. Use a hot glue gun to carefully glue a few decorative items (marbles, small seashells) on the bottom of the jar, creating a small platform for the bath bead mixture to rest on.

Safety Precautions

While making a homemade lava lamp is a fun and exciting project, it’s essential to observe some safety precautions:

  • Avoid ingesting the materials used in the lava lamp.
  • Keep the lava lamp out of reach of children and pets.
  • Dispose of the materials responsibly after use.


Creating your own homemade lava lamp is a fantastic way to add a touch of retro charm to your home decor while enjoying a fun DIY project. With just a few simple ingredients and some creativity, you can craft a mesmerizing lava lamp that glows with vibrant colors.

Whether you’re looking for a unique centerpiece for your next party or a fun science experiment to do with the kids, making a homemade lava lamp is sure to delight and inspire. So gather your materials, unleash your creativity, and let the lava lamp magic begin!


How do you make lava glow?

To make lava glow, add a blacklight or UV light source near it, which causes the minerals within the lava to fluoresce and emit a vibrant glow.

Can lava lamps glow?

Lava lamps themselves do not glow in the dark; they require a light source underneath to create their signature effect.

How do you make a glow in the dark lamp for kids?

Create a glow-in-the-dark lamp for kids by mixing glow powder with a clear adhesive or paint and applying it to the lampshade or base.

How do you make a 3 ingredient lava lamp?

Make a 3-ingredient lava lamp by combining water, oil, and effervescent tablets in a clear container, creating mesmerizing bubbles that rise and fall.

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