A true blast from the past, rain lamps can make for a nostalgic throwback when featured in your room's decor. If your lamp is low on oil – or if you've just procured a vintage beauty of your own and need to replace the fluid – this can be easily done with just one ingredient and a few simple steps.

Blurry house and trees silhouette seen through a wet window
credit: Graphic Designer/iStock/GettyImages
How to Add Oil or Fluid to a Rain Lamp

What Is a Rain Lamp?

Rain lamps are decorative electric lighting fixtures that are as ornamental as they are practical. Usually cylindrical in shape, rain lamps are comprised of a metal top and base, the latter of which holds a hidden motor. A web of fishing line wraps around the center where a sculpture of the goddess Venus surrounded by flowers is sometimes found. The motor works to pump oil to the top of the lamp, which sends it cascading down the web of fishing line through small holes to create the effect of falling water – or rain.

What Type of Oil Should be Used?

Back in their heyday, rain lamps were sold with their own "rain lamp oil," which consisted of Drakeol #35. These oils can still be found online through individual sellers, but will mostly serve as a novelty as this specific oil isn't required for the lamp to function. The more practical option is mineral oil, which is both affordable and available at most drug stores, although paraffin oil is known to work well too and can be found at hardware stores, craft stores and major retailers. Some people use glycerin, but water is not suggested as it will evaporate too quickly and the lamp will no longer appear to be raining.

How to Add the Oil

Before you begin adding or replacing the oil in your rain lamp, be sure to find a flat, sturdy surface to work on and line the area with a plastic covering and several towels. Paper or fabric towels will work, so choose what you prefer. Then, turn the lamp on. Along the base, you will see small holes in a collection pan at the bottom. Carefully add oil by pouring into these holes a small amount at a time. The lamp should resume the raining effect after about 1 pint of oil has been added, so wait a few minutes to see if your lamp has enough oil needed to start doing so. If not, add more about a half pint at a time, stopping every so often to check if the lamp has started working again.