Introduction: Fire Lamp!

Picture of Fire Lamp!

This Instructable will guide readers through the fairly simple process of making a lamp from a spent fire extinguisher. I originally wanted to put some kind of flammable liquid in the empty tube, add a wick, and make a mildly ironic torch, but I like how this came out.

Perhaps it's a misnomer for the project...but hey, you're reading, so I guess it worked.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Check the picture below for what you'll need...and mentally add a hot glue gun or some sort of effective metal-to-plastic adhesive.

Step 2: Sticker Removal (quite Optional)

Picture of Sticker Removal (quite Optional)

I should have looked for a sticker-removal Instructable or something cause this part kinda sucked. I just went at it with a box cutter and the flat end of some pliers. Unfortunately, a fair amount of paint was also scraped off. So the side that looks like it served as a bear-mauling defensive shield should probably face a wall or something. Why couldn't the stickers just face the wall, you ask? ...Oh, just go on to the next step already.

A note: Some in high society's fire extinguisher lamp aficionado circles posit that a lamp lacking stickers might as well be a generic metal tube, so the stickers should remain. I would agree and advise leaving the decals on unless they're a bit grungy like mine. It would actually be ten times cooler if you made some custom stickers that showed a silhouette turning on a light rather than spraying chemicals at a little campfire. It would be subtle but very cool.

Step 3: Drilling Hole for Wire

Picture of Drilling Hole for Wire

As the wiring will run through the empty canister, you'll need to drill a hole to permit the wire an exit. Go for an area near the base of the extinguisher; I did it on the side that was most scraped up (the same side that will face the wall) so the wire could exit discretely.

A file would probably be a good idea (and might make the next step easier) but it's not really necessary. If you use it, smooth out all of those..."shards" on the inside when the drilling's done. I know those things have an actual name but it's not coming to mind.

Step 4: Wiring the Contraption

Picture of Wiring the Contraption

That nice cord you were holding needs to be severed--but wait! Several precautions must be taken first...

(1) In order to make the soldering job humanly possible, make sure that the wire that has the socket on one end is long enough to go the length of the extinguisher and protrude at least 10cm or so out. If you disregard that last sentence, you'll find yourself soldering inside a fire extinguisher...which would make for the most awesome Instructable ever if you succeeded. The length of the second piece doesn't really matter.

(2) After slicing the wire you'll need to reconnect the same ones to each other--no mixing and matching. This can be accomplished by coloring the insulation of one pair before the cut is made. Anything that differentiates the wires will do. For the safety reasoning behind this move please see the comments section of this Instructable.

Take the socket wire and stick it down the fire extinguisher; your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get the recently-severed end out of the little hole you were drilling. Things that help: a small bend in the wire at the very end (make a slight "L"), pliers, patience, music. Things that don't help: flashlights, dirty water laced with mysterious chemicals dripping out of the hole into your lap (or face). When you succeed you can congratulate yourself. If ever there was a rate-limiting step to this Instructable, that was it.

You'll now reconnect the wires you snipped. Make sure you reattach the wires in the same way they were connected pre-severance. Strip the wires (notice the staggering--something I learned from another Instructable-user's comment); twist the strands together; solder 'em! Wrap the spliced wires in electrical tape or use heat-shrink tubing if you're feeling big and fancy--it's not shown but I used duct tape for lack of the other stuff.

Step 5: Socket Attachment

Picture of Socket Attachment

Simple--hot glue or somehow adhere the socket to your fire extinguisher. I have the light bulb attached so I can better gauge whether the thing's going on straight or not. If you're feeling ambitious, you could try to shave down the socket so it fits snugly in the extinguisher. If you're lucky this might happen without any extra effort on your part.

Step 6: All Done!

Picture of All Done!

Pop on that lampshade; plug 'er in and admire!

Hope you had a good time with this Instructable; it can (and has been) done with an old nalgene bottle. The lampshade also has lots of room for Instructability--check out this link for a great-looking origami shade.


SIRJAMES09 (author)2014-09-28

I love it!! Cool Lamp!!

TY for sharing. : )

Before putting this whole thing together, you could have spray painted it with a red primer(1 or 2 coats) & then after it dries(1 - 2 days), spray it with the reddest paint you can find(3 coats minimum, allowing 1 day between coats). then you would not have to worry about what is the good side & what is the bad side....

Just a thought....I'm still loving this lamp regardless! : )

I had made a fire extinguisher lamp years ago, but chose to leave the handles attached....

I drilled a hole through the top of the handles, inserted a threaded hallow electrical pipe/tube/??? & secured it to the handle via washers & nuts....ran the wires through the body, then reattached the original handles.

the socket for the light bulb attaches to this hallow tube.

for stickers, I went to a store where they do maintenance on fire extinguishers & bought new ones, taking the lamp with me to show off my work & explain why I wanted the stickers. I had no problem getting new stickers.

stienman (author)2006-12-19

Don't worry about re-attaching them backwards or anything

Regarding the electrical wiring.

Please worry about attaching the wires backwards. Even if you intend to never give this lamp to anyone who might do stupid things with it, there is a polarity and a reason for polarity for lightbulb sockets.

The neutral should always be the ring of the socket, and the hot should be the bottom center contact of the socket.

If you stick your finger in the socket accidentally then chances are good you'll touch the outer ring only, and not the center contact. If it's neutral then you'll get little or no shock. If you do touch the center contact, you'll likely also be touching the ring. The electrical path will then largely be constrained to your finger and not go through your heart.

If the socket is miswired, then touching the ring first will cause the electricity to go through your body to whatever ground it can find.


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actually, sorry, but wall outlets are AC meaning it doesnt matter, their both live 1/2 the time (switches 40 tiems a electrician told me this BTW so I'm not jsut some random kid wqho doesnt know anything)

it isnt 40 times a second, it is 60 times a second, and i should know, my dad is an electrician, and so is my uncle. so next time that you are not sure of something, say "I think it switches 40 times a second". thank you- gamer

Callum Snowden (author)gamer2010-11-05

Or 50 :)

hmmm.....maybe its different in different places then.

At the moment, the electrical standards around the world are 120v 50 or 60 Hz or 240v 50 or 60Hz, 40Hz may have been used long ago in the past, but harmonization of electrical systems means that they were replaced with what we have today... :)

See here for more info:

In the US the neutral wire is connected to ground at the breaker box. This means that the neutral wire, regardless of the AC cycle, will be at or near ground and poses very little shock hazard.

Therefore the neutral wire is not "live" half the time.

Also, note that simply because some lamps do not have polarized plugs does not mean it's safe to wire it this way. Lamps with terminals or connectors where a "standard" human finger can come into contact with live voltage have to obey certain rules to be UL certified. This lamp has user-accessible terminals that are directly AC connected, and should attempt to prevent this possible hazard, especially since it's so easily, cheaply, and quickly implemented.

Many lamps do not have to worry about this for a variety of reasons. For example, they may use transformers and low voltage for the lamp, the socket and/or contacts might not be touchable (small opening for the bulb), or they may be protected behind glass when in operation.

And some lamps are not UL certified and may pose a hazard to their users.


StepsoftheSun (author)stienman2006-12-19

Thanks for catching this! I hadn't even considered the potential hazard but it makes a lot of sense. Light bulb designers are far more thoughtful than I had ever imagined... Or maybe they're just better engineers.

5Volt (author)StepsoftheSun2007-01-19

I'm not sure about regulations,but wouldn't a ground connection to the metallic base make the lamp safer ? I like you lamp ! Ciao 5V.

StepsoftheSun (author)5Volt2007-01-24

I really don't initial guess would be no. I don't think a typical, store-bought metal lamp would have a ground connection to the body.

I think a metal lamp (or any other appliance with a metal shell, for that matter), by regulation must be earthed. It's to stop a fault from developing inside the appliance which may result in the shell becoming live. It's easy to imagine a power cable becoming frayed and the active line coming into contact with the case... I'm fairly sure that's the case, check it out and see.

As long as you don't yank on the wire, I think the chances of it fraying spontaneously are quite low. Also, I have to disagree with the whole polarity thing. many many store bought lamps do not have polarized plugs, indicating that in any given situation, either the center contact or the screw receptacle might be "hot".... my lamp has an un-polarized plug at any rate.

I will vouch for this guy's opinion of the situation (he's a smart fella). And this is the lampshade I mentioned at the end of the Instructable. Coincidence? Not exactly.

Phesarnion (author)stienman2006-12-19

although its good practice to keep the same wiring, as it helps keep the power in-phase, mains voltage is AC - Alternating current, meaning that the power zips BOTH ways, one after the other, usually at a rate of 50Hz (50 times per minute). If you do stick your finger in the socket and at the same time you have (stupidly) earthed yourself, you are going to get a jolt no matter which way the plug is wired.

trebuchet03 (author)Phesarnion2006-12-19

You can safely touch the neutral wire as it is at ground potential. AC does "zip" both ways, but only when the circuit is completed ;) You - the meat person touching the neutral wire just so happen to be at ground potential too. That's why the hot wire will shock you - you complete the circuit :P

I feel like I should know ten times more than I currently do about electricity given its prevalence in society and potential danger (oh, and how awesome it is). That explanation makes a lot of sense though, thanks.

StepsoftheSun (author)Phesarnion2006-12-19

I'm not following you about "keeping the power in-phase." Are you referring to the oscillations of the current and how backwards wiring is like a small source of destructive interference? In all likelihood I'm sounding like a fool so I'll someone else have floor to explain.

DIY Dave (author)2010-07-19

I would use a propane torch, but I don't know if it would be safe to drill into it.

alexhalford (author)2008-08-16

From a safety point of view, the socket should be neutral and the bottom of the bulb should be live. From a 'will it work' point of view, it doesn't matter. The neutral wire is always at or nearly at 0V, the live wire swings between 230v and -230v at a rate of 50Hz (in the UK). For this reason, you won't get shocked from by the neutral wire. And, to answer some questions on here, yes, appliances with a metal casing must be, by regulation, earthed. (Trust me, I've taken apart enough appliances in my time to notice that every one has had its metal casing earthed. Great 'ible. AlexHalford

twocvbloke (author)alexhalford2009-04-19

Not true, I have received shocks from the Neutral wires whilst holding an earth wire, though not lethal (or at least my reflexes did me proud), it still hurts like hell!!! :S AC current (whether it's our 240v 50Hz or the US 120v 60Hz) runs back and forth along the wires, so the Neutral (or Cold as our American (and Canadian) friends call it) is also "live"... :S The safest way to make sure you don't receive a shock is to unplug the device or switch off the power at the fusebox... :)

alexhalford (author)twocvbloke2009-11-29

Are you sure that was not after a transformer? Within the main fuse box (of the area, not just your house) the neutral and earth wires are, in fact, connected.

whiteboipumas (author)2007-07-16

this would go good in a loft

rh387 (author)2007-05-24

To solder "inside the fire extinguisher," you could simply cut the wire where the connection would be inside the cylinder, feed the wall end of the wire in through the base hole and up through the top. solder it up outside the tube, insulate it well, and then pull it back. Some heat shrink tubing would do wonders for your insulation.

berky93 (author)2007-05-21

im so gonna make a fire extinguisher oil-lamp! (irony!)

StepsoftheSun (author)berky932007-05-21

Haha, I'm glad somebody got that...

T3h_Muffinator (author)2007-04-07

Nice lamp! As soon as I'm done making a moving scanner head lamp, I'll definitely make one of these!! Also, I've never thought of clipping wires that way, so that they don't short! Thank you so much for that!! -Muffin

marc92 (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-04-27

Please let me know when your moving scanner head lamp is complete and the instructable is up. thanks ps nice instructable

T3h_Muffinator (author)marc922007-04-27

No Problem =) Probably won't be for a while though.... I have to study for SATs, APs, and SAT IIs

marc92 (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-04-27

OK thanks

Thanks! The lamp you're planning sounds excellent...I trust it will be documented here? The wire trick was from another Instructable, actually, and yeah, it's pretty clever. And I'm assuming that's flashlight art as your (current) user icon...haha, pretty cool (I remember the old smiley face you used to have). An Instructable on the tricks to doing that would be cool. I mean, it would sort of be like my lamp--just give people the idea, most can figure it out.

OOH! I've never thought of doing that! That's a great Idea!!!!

(Sorry, I get pretty enthusiastic sometimes)

That should be up by tomorrow ;) (My friend asked me to write her name out in light a few weeks back, that should be the perfect instructable)

And yes, the lamp will be posted @ Instructables... when I get the time to make it... stupid SATS and AP tests....

No need to apologize for excitement; I'm looking forward to both of those Instructables you've got cooking. Hah, and yeah, I went through the finals, SATs, and AP stuff last year and can sympathize... I'd say keep working on your projects--building technical and communication skills are important (and way more fun than worrying about test scores).

pardonmyfreedom (author)2007-04-14


Haha, next I'll do "turning life jackets into trendy orange vests" followed by "take out your car's seat belt and make a hip buckle for your pants."

TheMadScientist (author)2007-01-04

heres your sweet custom decals - cheap ghetto ms-paint style

Those are exactly what I had imagined! Haha, very well done!

note, if you do try to make these into stickers, they WERE made in ms paint, and DO NOT have any alpha channels, you have to put those in yourself.

karen608 (author)2006-12-21

QUESTION about used fire extinguishers: i got three old ones now, 2 emptied out, but one has a dial that says empty, but when i pulled the pin and nothing discharged, it still is heavy. is it safe to use this or is it plugged up with age, dial reading wrong.??? any advice on this. I have two to turn into lamps at least, just don't want any accidents trying to use the third one!

crapflinger (author)karen6082007-01-02

most (if not all) household extinguishers are a,b, and C type extinguishers (can put out paper fires, chemical fires, and electrical fires) so they are filled with this poweder that helps the extinguishability of the device...that's probably what you're feeling as far as the weight with these...the meter on the extinguisher only measures the preassure in the device not the actual you'd probably be safe cutting the thing open and getting that powder out...just don't breathe too much of it's not the nicest stuff for the lungs (and everything else in the world "is known to cause cancer in california")

StepsoftheSun (author)karen6082006-12-27

I, unfortunately, couldn't tell you... I rather lamely bought extinguishers that already had their valves removed and were thus guaranteed to be empty. It may just be you have a heavy canister but I would advise not to risk it by trying to puncture the tube or anything of that sort. If you're anywhere near Durham, NC, check out the Scrap Exchange; they have dozens of already emptied extinguishers. Otherwise, enjoy the light from just two lamps. G'luck!

trebuchet03 (author)2006-12-18

Now that's cool :)

1 + for you :P

As a tip (to make it easier on those that read through the feeds).... Make your first sentence a descriptive one (rather than commentary) ;) Otherwise, your desciption through the feed may come back and saying:

Perhaps a misnomer for this project...but hey, you're reading, so I guess it worked.

And if all I have to go on is that sentence... I'm probably going to skip over it :P

Now if it said:
This Instructable will guide readers through the fairly simple process of making a lamp from a spent fire extinguisher.

I'd def. check it out and I know what I'm clicking on :)

Just for your information :)

Are you sneakily asking for less weird commentary...? Hah, only kidding, it's a very good suggestion and I'll definitely keep it in mind for my next Instructable. Thanks!

No.. I like weird commentary (and corny :P) -- it just helps those reading off a feed and bring in more viewers ;)

0.775volts (author)2006-12-19

One of my friends made one of these, but he rigged it so the lever turned the lamp on and off. It was a pretty simple mod if I remember correctly

StepsoftheSun (author)0.775volts2006-12-19

Well that just beats the pants off of my lamp! Got any photos? Was it just a bare bulb (no shade)? Seems like anything above the lampshade might make squeezing the lever difficult.

0.775volts (author)StepsoftheSun2006-12-21

He made a lampshade out of old filmstrips and pages of "farenheit 451". he also extended the socket a bit above the lever so you could squeeze it. (and the lampshade attached from the bottom, IIRC)

Tool Using Animal (author)2006-12-19

Nice, but just a couple suggestions, Use heat shrink on the wires, or better yet, use one long wire and add a replacement plug, or rewire at the socket., also pick up a strain relief grommet for the cord where it passes through the hole. Now if only I didn't have a wife......

Hah, despite your last sentence being a touch on the creepy side, those are also good suggestions. Is there a clever way to shrink heat-shrink tubing over wires besides holding the soldering iron kinda close or buying one of those guns? The grommet's a superb idea--far better than my "let's just dump hot glue around the hole and wire" which I abandoned.

I said that cuz she'd never let me have a fire extinguisher lamp. The clever way to shrink heat shrink? A lighter.

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