A product as iconic and well-known as the Lava® lamp is bound to generate a great deal of conversation. LAVA® products also are somewhat mysterious, evoking questions about their origin, history and, of course, “How does a LAVA® lamp work?” Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive.

If you have any questions about LAVA® lamps that are not answered here, please contact us at orders@lavalamp.com.

How big are the lamps in relation to each other?



Q: How do I set up and assemble my LAVA® lamp?


  1. Be sure the light bulb is screwed tightly into the base of your LAVA® lamp.
  2. Plug your LAVA® lamp into a power outlet and keep it away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. For best results, a room temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended.
  3. Turn on your LAVA® lamp using the power switch, which is located on the power cord for most styles.

Q: How long do I need to wait for my new LAVA® lamp to work properly?


  1. The first time you turn on your LAVA® lamp, it will need about two to six hours to start the lava flowing, so be patient.
  2. At first, your new LAVA® lamp will form tower-like pillars of wax as it begins to flow. This is normal, so allow it to run for at least two to six hours the first time you use it. The more often you use it, the quicker the startup time will be.

Q: My LAVA® lamp is not working properly — what might be the problem?

A: If the lava in your LAVA® lamp isn’t flowing the way it should, try the following steps. Make sure your lamp is turned off and cooled before attempting this:

  1. Check the bottom of the lamp. There’s a metal coil that helps accelerate the melting of the lava.
  2. If this coil isn’t nestled at the bottom of the lamp, it may take longer for the lava to flow properly.
  3. If the coil isn’t nestled at the bottom, you can twirl the globe gently in the base and the coil should drop into place.

You can watch our Lava Lamp Instructional Video for reference.

Q: What should I do if my LAVA® lamp is cloudy?


  1. If your LAVA® lamp appears cloudy, allow it to sit at room temperature and let the wax settle for about eight hours.
  2. Turn the lamp on until the wax begins to soften, then shut it off again and allow it to cool.
  3. After it cools, turn the lamp on again and let it run for eight to 10 hours. This should result in clear liquid.
  4. If your LAVA® lamp still appears cloudy, call our Guest Services line at 1-800-336-5282 weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, or email us at orders@lavalamp.com.

Q: What’s the best way to care for a LAVA® lamp?

A: Here are a few simple rules to follow that will ensure your LAVA® lamp continues to give you as many hours of enjoyment as possible:

  • Do not loosen or remove the cap on the top of the globe. Breaking the seal will ruin your lamp and void your warranty.
  • Do not move, shake or drop your Lava® lamp while it is warm. This may cause permanent damage, such as the lamp becoming cloudy or the lava breaking apart. If this happens, turn the lamp off immediately and let it sit undisturbed for 24 hours, then turn it back on and run as normal.
  • Do not place the lamp in direct sunlight, as this will cause the colors to fade.
  • Do not store or operate your LAVA® lamp in extreme cold or heat, because this will negatively affect the functionality of your lamp.

Q: How do LAVA® lamps work?

A: The principle behind the LAVA® lamp remains the same today as it was when it was invented by Edward Craven Walker in the 1960s. The blobs that give the Lava® lamp its iconic look are made of wax that’s melted by the light bulb in the base of the lamp. As the wax heats up, it becomes lighter than the water it’s suspended in, making it float to the top of the globe. As it gets further away from the light bulb, the wax begins to cool and becomes denser than the water, causing it to sink back toward the light bulb. This creates a loop of heating and cooling that gives the Lava® lamp its iconic mix of glowing and flowing. It’s a simple but awe-inspiring idea that has stood the test of time to become one of the most unique home furnishings ever.

Q: What’s in a LAVA® lamp?

A: The exact makeup of our unique lava is a secret, but it’s a special blend of wax suspended in a special liquid mixture that helps enhance the flowing motion of the lava.

Replacement Bulbs

LAVA® lamps do not require special bulbs, but each lamp does require a bulb specific to its design. Please consult the chart below before purchasing replacement bulbs for your LAVA® lamps.


Model Name OZ.   Bulb Wattage, Model Number
and Common Name
11.5″ / Accents 12 15 Watt (Sewing machine bulb)  Incandescent 5150
14.5″ / Classic 20 25 Watt (Refrigerator bulb)*  Incandescent 5025
17″ / Designer 32 40 Watt A15 (Appliance bulb)  Incandescent 5032
16.3″/ Premier 52 40 Watt A15 (Appliance bulb)  Incandescent 5032
18.5″ / Double Play 80 40 Watt R50 (Floodlight bulb) Reflector 5041
18.5″/ Royale  80 60 Watt R20 (Floodlight bulb)  Reflector  5060
27″ Lava Grande 250 100 Watt R20F (Floodlight bulb)  Reflector 5010
*Delineates the same size base to bulb socket requirement.

Important information

The portable lamp has a polarized plug (one plug is wider than the other). As a safety feature, this plug will only fit in a polarized outlet one way. If the plug does not fully fit in the outlet, then reverse the plug. If you still encounter problems, then call a qualified electrician. Never use with an extension cord unless the plug can be fully inserted. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DEFEAT THIS SAFETY FEATURE.

Your LAVA® lamp operates at a very warm temperature. The glass globe and base will become “HOT!” Please do not handle your LAVA® lamp while it is still operating or hot to the touch.