DIY Lava Lamps in Alcohol Bottles

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Things You'll Need

  • Alcohol bottles, with caps

  • Soap

  • Water

  • Vegetable oil

  • Food coloring

  • Glitter

  • Salt


To make the lava lamps glow, place them in front of a light source.


Don't try to heat the lava lamp over a stovetop or open flame.

Commercially made lava lamps must be plugged in to a power source.

Lava lamps have long been a swirling, hypnotic symbol of all that is good and groovy. The lights were invented in the mid-1960s and have been in production ever since. However, commercially-made lava lamps can be expensive. Fortunately, it's easy to make one at home with a few basic supplies that might already be in your kitchen. Liquor bottles make suitable containers for lava lamps as well, and can be used to decorate at a swinging party.

Step 1

Select a liquor or wine bottle to use for the lava lamp and thoroughly wash it. For maximum visibility, choose a bottle made of clear glass, since darker colors are more difficult to see through. Soak the bottles in hot, soapy water and peel off their labels, if desired. For a tight seal, try to use bottles with screw-on tops, as opposed to corks.

Step 2

Fill the bottle 3/4 full with tap water or bottled water.

Step 3

Add food coloring to the water to brighten things up. Add the color of your choice to the bottle of water until the desired shade is reached. For a chic look, coordinate the food dye color with shades found on the liquor bottle's label. Also, a dash of glitter will make the lava lamp sparkle and shine.

Step 4

Add vegetable oil to the mixture of water, food coloring and glitter. Pour oil into the bottle until it is almost full, allowing for some empty space at the top to prevent the contents from overflowing. Allow the mixture to sit until the water and oil have fully separated.

Step 5

Pour salt into the jar of oil, water, glitter and food coloring until it begins to bubble and churn. To keep the action going, add more salt periodically when it becomes still, or give it a good shake and watch the oil and water move in opposite directions.

references & resources

Hallie Engel

Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.