Lava lamps are amazing accessories which can have you mesmerised for hours. With a fun science element they are very popular with children and even some adults. At some point you or someone you know is likely to have owned one.
What is in a lava lamp?
Most lava lamps are made up of these main components:
- Halogen Lamp
- Transparent or opaque mineral oil
- Paraffin wax
- Carbon tetrachloride
How do lava lamps work?
A lava lamp works off of convection current. This is when the floating globes you see, rise and fall due to differing liquid densities. The heat from the halogen lamp causes this reaction to take place. The warmth at the bottom of the lamp causes the globes to rise. As they reach the top of the lamp, where it is cooler, the globes become denser than the surrounding liquid and start to fall back down. Once at the bottom they will again be heated and the cycle continues.
Recycling a lava lamp
To properly recycle a lava lamp, you are going to want to take it apart into separate disposable pieces. When doing this, safety comes first. You will need to dismantle the lava lamp in an open and well-ventilated area, to avoid breathing in any odours that might cause nausea or headaches. You will also want to ensure that the liquid that you remove doesn't come in contact with your eyes, and wash your hand thoroughly after.
Once you are setup you will want to unscrew the top and bottom of the lava lamp. Remove the cap or pierce the film at the top of the glass bottle to start draining the liquid. You can slowly drain this liquid on to some newspaper. Laying it flat over a large surface area will allow the wax substance to harden.
Now you have the liquid removed you can clean out the glass to remove any residue. This leaves you with three parts, the glass tube, the wax and the electronics. The glass and electrics can then be recycled as normal. The newspaper with the dried liquid will need to be places in the general waste bin as unfortunately this cannot be recycled.
How to dispose of the liquid in a lava lamp
The liquid in a lava lamp is wax based so make sure you don't pour this down the sink. Many people suggest doing this. However, due to it being waxed based, once it dry's it will harden and clog up your pipes. It's also not organic wax like beeswax, it's a paraffin wax which comes from crude oil much like plastics but cannot be recycled. It's also devastating to the environment and can't be disposed of in an eco-friendly way. You can dispose of it as suggested above.
How to dispose of the lava lamp exterior
If you have cleaned the glass portion of the lava lamp, as long as your model has a fully separated glass container, you can put this part in your glass recycling bin. Make sure the glass has been fully cleaned and has no residue of the paraffin wax left.
The electronical part can be recycled at your local recycling centre.Or you can try listing it online to see if anyone is interested in the parts.