How to Dispose of a Lava Lamp?

Lava lamps might seem retro, but they are making a comeback. However, everything gets old, and sometimes lava lamps break.

Lava Lamps

How do you get rid of a lava lamp? Is there something special you should do?

The short answer is: it depends on the lava lamp.

Most lava lamps can just be wrapped in newspaper and thrown in the dumpster.

Some need more special care!

How to Safely Dispose of a Lava Lamp

It’s surprisingly easy to dispose of most lava lamps safely.

There are multiple ways to do it, but the easiest and safest is to simply wrap it in the newspaper and throw it in the garbage.

Always check with the manufacturer for your specific lava lamp.

Different brands use different components, and it is essential to be safe! Follow their instructions first.

Although a lava lamp is made of several different materials, it is safe to throw it away regularly. Here are the regular steps to throwing away a lava lamp:

  1. If you have the box, repackage the lava lamp in the original container with styrofoam padding. If not, wrap the glass in newspaper before you throw it out.
  2. Make sure that the lightbulb is intact. If you’re worried, you can dispose of this separately.
  3. Wrap the cord around the base.
  4. Throw the entire lava lamp away in your regular trash can. Do not recycle the whole lava lamp.

The most important part about getting rid of a lava lamp is making sure it is safely wrapped. You don’t want the glass to break and the liquid getting everywhere.

When getting rid of a lava lamp in its entirety, do not break the seal or empty the lava. Liquid from a lava lamp has to be disposed of properly.

DO NOT pour it down any drain.

If you want to save or recycle some parts of the lava lamps, or if your lava lamp broke, see the individual instructions below.

How to Dispose of the Lava

If you’ve decided to reuse or recycle the glass parts of your lava lamp, you might be wondering what to do with the extra lava.

No, don’t dump it down the drain!

No matter which company made your lamp, they included wax as part of their ingredients. The wax melting is the reason that the lava lamp works (more on that here).

However, when the wax isn’t melted, it will clog anything it is poured into.

If you dump the extra wax and liquid through your drain, prepare to call a plumber!

Instead, wrap the hardened wax in newspapers and put it in the trash can. The landfill will safely dispose of it, and it’s out of your hands.

To get the wax out, you’ll need to open the top. There are two ways of doing this, depending on the style of lamp you have.

Some lamps have bottle caps. If this is the case, use a bottle opener and pry the top off. You’ll be able to dump out the majority of the liquid.

Other lamps have glass tops, which are a little more complicated. It might become necessary to drill a small hole in the top. After this, you can drain the liquid.

Note: Always use caution with glass and with the wax itself. Although the “lava” is non-toxic, it still contains chemicals. Never deal with a lava lamp if it’s recently been plugged in. 

How to Dispose of the Glass

Once you’ve gotten rid of the wax and water inside the lava lamp, you can recycle (or reuse) the glass.

Take it to a recycling center or leave it in your recycling bin.

If the glass in your lava lamp breaks (an excellent reason to get rid of it), you’ll have to proceed a little differently.

Gather the broken glass and put it in a larger, recyclable container. If all the glass is clean, take that to the recycling center.

As always, wear gloves and be cautious around the liquid from a lava lamp or broken glass. It never hurts to be safe.

How to Dispose of the Light Bulb

Although the light bulb is made of glass, it can’t be recycled because of the wiring and electricity within it. However, you can throw it away with your trash.

Before you throw the lightbulb away, make sure it’s dead. Lava lamps use regular light bulbs, nothing special. You might be able to reuse it somewhere!

If the lightbulb is dead, throw it away in the regular trash. Wrap it first, so the glass doesn’t break in your trash can.

How to Dispose of the Base

The base (and tip) of a lava lamp are made of plastic or metal and wiring. The base cannot be recycled. The cap, however, can.

You can toss the cap into the recycling bin with the other metal. Throw the base in the trash, and you’ve gotten rid of your old lava lamp!

Other Considerations and FAQs

That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, if you still have questions, don’t worry.

You’re not alone. Check out some of these commonly asked questions and see if they help!

Can You Reuse a Lava Lamp?

If you don’t want to get rid of your lava lamp, you might be able to keep using it. First of all, check to see if it works. Look closely at the lightbulb – it’s common for that to go out!

If it is well and truly broken, you might have to get rid of it. However, you can reuse parts of it with other partial lava lamps or as different things!

If you have two broken lava lamps, you can mix and match pieces and see if you can make a complete lamp. Most brands are pretty interchangeable.

Otherwise, the glass part of the lava lamp is the most useful. Once it’s properly cleaned, it can be anything you like, from garden decoration to a tiny fish tank!

What is in a Lava Lamp?

The actual ingredients of a lava lamp are a closely guarded trade secret.

However, scientists have some pretty intelligent guesses based on the chemistry of the lamp itself.

Because the lamp needs two different liquids, one heavy and one light, lava lamps are mostly made of oil or water and wax. Wax is heavier than oil or water and sits at the bottom.

However, when the wax melts, it becomes lighter than the other liquid and begins to rise. Once it’s at the top for a while, it cools down and gets heavier.

This cycle repeats itself to varying parts of the wax at different times. It’s what makes a lava lamp so mesmerizing and delightful.

Is the Liquid in a Lava Lamp Toxic?

Wax and oil are non-toxic. However, you shouldn’t drink a lava lamp, and you should be very careful when you’re dealing with the liquid inside of one.

Different lava lamp companies use varying types of wax and liquid within their lamps, and older lamps might have more dangerous chemicals within them.

There are also chemicals such as colorants in the lamps, and even though they aren’t super toxic, it is still safer to avoid touching them.

When handling an open lava lamp, pouring it out, or cleaning it, always wear gloves and make sure your area is well ventilated.

If you swallow some, contact poison control. If liquid gets in your eye, flush it out with water for at least twenty minutes.

If it touches your skin or clothes, wash it thoroughly.

None of this should scare you away from lava lamps (or from using them as DIY projects). However, it’s vital to be safe when dealing with chemicals, even if they’re non-toxic.

As always, use eye and skin protection. Look up further details on your specific lava lamp at the manufacturer’s website.

How Do I Clean Up a Lava Lamp Spill?

With all of that information, you might be looking at a huge mess of wax and oil and thinking, “what do I do?” Don’t worry – you can clean it up!

First of all, put on gloves. Make sure there is no broken glass around, and clear the area of small children or pets.

If the lava lamp was turned on, wait until it cools.

Once the wax hardens, it will be easier to clean up. For the most part, you will be able to pick up wax chunks and soak up the lighter liquid like any other spill.

Make sure that all the glass is cleaned up as well. If it was on the carpet, you might have to use a carpet cleaner to get the color out.

Don’t let pets near it until it has been cleaned thoroughly.

Final Thoughts

If it’s finally time to say goodbye to your old lava lamp, there’s no particular way of doing it.

Unless you want to be environmentally friendly, you can throw it away.

However, it is vital to be careful that the lamp is wrapped in a newspaper, so the “lava” doesn’t leak and the glass doesn’t break.

Most importantly, enjoy your lava lamp for as long as you can. Then, move on to the next toy or source of wonder!

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