Introduction: Light Bulb Lamp: Another Option

Picture of Light Bulb Lamp: Another Option

I too saw the post of the light bulb lamp ad got started working on my own. I was hoping to put out an instructable before anyone else did, but BUMPUS beat me to it (cheers mate!)


This instructable covers the entire process, from a new light bulb to a new lamp. It includes the hollowing out of the bulb. However, you'll need to come up with your own base for the lamp.

Special thanks to nm918273 for the original instructions on how to hollow a light bulb.

Bigger thanks to my little bro Tanner for shooting the pics.

I did my best to include a lot of photos and detailed steps.

Hope you enjoy it.


Step 1: Materials Needed!

Picture of Materials Needed!

-Light Bulb
-Pop Can
-Old Sock
-Lamp Oil

-Needle Nose Pliers
-Flathead Screw Driver
-Exacto Knife
-Big Ol' Nail

Step 2: Hollow Out the Bulb!

Picture of Hollow Out the Bulb!


(I really thought something would pop or explode during this process, but it didn't. Not as exciting, but less dangerous)

1- Using your exacto knife pry up an edge of the brass disk on the bottom of the bulb.

2- Use your pliers to pull it off.

Time to move outside as there's going to be some broken glass. Be safe, clean up your mess when you're done.

3- With patience and care remove the black glass cone that the brass disk was attached to. I used the following methods--
-Resting the threads (not the bulb) on a sturdy surface tap the glass with the pliers to chip/break it.
-Holding the bulb use the screwdriver as a chisel and the piers as a hammer.
-Use the nail as a chisel and the pliers as a hammer.
-Use the pliers to grip and pull out the last few chunks.


4- Use the screwdriver as a chisel once again and break the glass that hold the filament in place inside the bulb.

5- Use your pliers to break up pieces too big to fall out of the hole but simply squeezing them.

You should have a nice white hollow bulb now.

Step 3: Clean the Bulb!

Picture of Clean the Bulb!

As you examine the bulb now you'll see some of the white removed where the broken bits were moving about inside the bulb. We're basically going to do the same thing to get all the white out, but we'll use salt instead of broken glass.

1- Put about a spoon full of salt in the bulb.

2- Cover the hole with your hand/finger and swirl. You'll need to use different positions and angles to get all the white out.

Now you've got a clean hollow bulb. Oh the possibilities!

Step 4: Cap and Wick!

Picture of Cap and Wick!

We're about to make a small aluminum disk that will cap the hole in the bottom of the bulb, through which we will put the wick that we will make out of a sock.

1- Use your exacto knife to cut a one inch square from the side of the pop can.

2- Use your scissors to a circle with a thin tab protruding from one side.

3- Fold the tab in against the painted side, then up perpendicular about half it's length.

4- Use your exacto knife as small screwdriver to cut/punch a hole for the wick.

5- Cut a thin strip from the top (not the elastic bit) of the sock.

6- Use the tip of your exacto knife to push the wick up through the cap.

For the most part the cap will be held on by the weight of the wick. We put the tab on the cap so that the lamp can be displayed at an angle. As long as the tab is at the lowered edge of the cap it will keep the cap more or less centered.

You might experiment with two tabs instead of one.

Step 5: Fill! Assemble! Light! Enjoy!

Picture of Fill! Assemble! Light! Enjoy!

Almost there!

1- Find a base for your lamp. I found an old brass fitting in the garage that I polished up. Other suggestions: a shot glass, large washer, or piece of wood with a large hole drilled into it.

2- Fill the bulb 1/3 to 1/2 with lamp oil.

3- Slip the wick in and rest the cap on top. Use the tab to stabilize and position it.

4- Once the wick is saturated with the oil light it up!

That's it! Enjoy your new lamp with caution as it is fragile, easy to tip over and has an open flame.

Thanks for stickin' with it till the end.



The Guardian 2 (author)2015-01-09

Just finished this project. Not exactly the same but pretty close. I love it.

abstracted (author)2012-03-29 are a couple of my versions

jvet (author)2011-11-28

Very cool, the only thing i first noticed is that a european lighbulb is different.
the glass blub is completely closed, the electronics are cast inside the glass, its an way to make te lamp more effecient and safe. im only looking for a good solution to refil it !

bensspace (author)2011-01-21

i used to have a friend that was in a gang he died a few years ago but he used somthing like this to set fires

honigkuchen (author)2011-01-04

all the glass that had to break during this process really refused to do anything. maybe for the german lightbulb I used that looked a little diffrent from the one you are using.

wilderness (author)honigkuchen2011-01-20

oh, and i forgot to say - you might find the white coating doesn't come off with just salt, too - i guess it's a different material. I got it off with salt and water, but sand and water might be better!

wilderness (author)honigkuchen2011-01-20

Hey Honigkuchen,

if German light bulbs are like English ones, then they're much more stubborn than the American ones seem to be, but it's still possible to do this. Use something soft to protect the bulb, grip it firmly by the metal part, and tap th black glass repeatedly, very hard, using controlled force and a small scredriver or other instrument. Eventually the glass will start to crack, and by combining the various tricks mentioned above you should be able to clear out all the black glass. It took me about 20 minutes per bulb, with a 50% success rate (the bits you're trying to break are much stronger than the part you want to keep whole...)

I recommend wearing glasses or goggles and working somewhere easy to sweep!

Have fun,

nafango22 (author)2008-06-17

couldnt you use water to clean the bulb?

Rmstrjim (author)nafango222010-02-23

Water alone will not remove the residue, you need an abrasive media or thin-necked toothbrush/pipe cleaner. (fiddly, just use the abrasive)

CYNICALifornia (author)nafango222008-06-17

I guess, but I'm not really sure. The salt is super quick and efficient. Plus, you dry time and no water spots. Know what I mean?

everage (author)2009-12-12

I just finished mine, its an awesome idea. It actually made me join here. I used two magnets, a small one inside the bulb and one hidden under a tealight shell. Now it stands stable and i can lean it over to a side without worries.


Eag;p (author)2009-07-18


Whitedude0728 (author)Eag;p2009-12-05

lol exactly what i was thinking.

nobody_95 (author)Whitedude07282009-12-05

mee too

El Mano (author)2009-11-25

That's really cool. You could also make some sort of wall mount.

tippmannphreak (author)2008-06-19

Umm. This looks like something that would be on the anarchist cookbook. haha. Good instructable nonetheless

s_allen40 (author)tippmannphreak2008-08-10

"..looks like something that would be on the anarchist cookbook" Come again ?

loki233 (author)s_allen402009-11-23  

basically tippmannphreak is saying it looks like an improvised incendiary device, like a molotov cocktail

MrLouque (author)2009-11-13

 Sweet instructable, got to try it

Awsome Fairy (author)2008-10-17

What fuel is better: Paraffin Oil (aka. Kero), Metho/Alcohol or Oil. What do they smell like, how flammable are they, if it spills out of a light bulb and brakes what one would do more damage? All those kinds of things I want to know Thanks

PKM (author)Awsome Fairy2009-01-13

Paraffin/Kero smells weird (slightly sweet and petrol-y), has a very bright but slightly sooty flame. As a pure liquid it's not actually very flammable but if it soaks into carpet or something it will be.

Meths (that purple stuff) smells like neat alcohol, has a much dimmer flame (not great for lighting unless you make a mantle or something) but is much cleaner burning. It is *very* flammable, meths spills are dangerous so i wouldn't recommend it for an unstable lamp design like this one.

Lamp oil (if that's what you mean by oil) smells better, burns a little cleaner than paraffin and has a nice bright flame but is more expensive. I don't know how flammable it is if spilled.

I wouldn't try burning other types of oil, veggie oil has some water content so spits/crackles a lot, smokes and doesn't smell very good, and I haven't tried engine oil or other types but I'd steer away from it. Paraffin or lamp oil are probably your best bet.

sharlston (author)PKM2009-11-13

veggie oil is fine all my lamps run off the stuff

carcharhinus (author)2009-05-15

does anyone know if you can make colored lamp oil by simply adding food coloring?

sharlston (author)carcharhinus2009-11-13

yes but the flame wont be coloured

sharlston (author)carcharhinus2009-07-27

if you made the wick go throught the colouring aswell as the oil then yes

Food coloring is water based, so probably no dice. I've seen colored oils before though.

AustenQn (author)2009-08-04

cant it blow up?

Falling_Jihad (author)2009-01-14

wow this looks like the potential arson cause to me. lol cool stuff though i think i would much rather have a larger base than that though.

kreeperjoe (author)2008-10-22

Great Instructable! question would you happen to know of any ways to make oil's at home that give off a pleasant fragrance? im going to make more just so i can put them in some geocache's

Bigev (author)kreeperjoe2009-01-05

Geocache! Brilliant! I love these, and can never find enough excuses to make them.

ewilhelm (author)2008-12-16

This project was mentioned in Popular Mechanics's 10 DIY Gifts for Friends and Family.

MJTH (author)2008-11-29

Wood there be any possibly of the bulb cracking because of the heat?

CYNICALifornia (author)MJTH2008-11-30

I've burned my light bulb lamp for many hours and have had not problems yet. Thus far I'd answer your question with a 'I doubt it', but am always open the possibility of a freak accident. (Like the invention of silly putty)

kate the librarian (author)2008-11-30

Thank you for the clear instructions! This was my first attempt, and it was perfect. I ended up using a decorative halogen bulb, and an old wash cloth for the wick, as the sick turned out not to be 100% cotton! Ha. I had trouble finding a good base, but ended up setting it in a bowl of sand and river rocks I'd been using for candles, and it's beautiful! Thanks again ;)

Fungible (author)2008-06-19

Many stores also sell totally clear bulbs, if you want to save time and skip the clearning. Salt is a clever way to do it, though!

Spinergy (author)Fungible2008-06-19

Yep, easier to start with a clear bulb. Also... the spherical "globe" type bulbs would make a very nice lamp.

Fungible (author)Spinergy2008-06-20

Good point - the globe bulbs would look very nice, and also likely be a lot more stable, as they'd be less top-heavy, since they're uniformly curved.

rotf101 (author)Fungible2008-06-20

Hm. I was just thinking. Maybe a floodlight might have been easier? After all, you wouldn't need a stand for it. =)

Newblit (author)rotf1012008-11-12

Tried that already problem is that you can't get the white off of it I ended out breaking the glass because I was using pieces of broken glass because the salt wasn't abrasive enough and the glass barely even working. After I broke the glass I tried scraping it off with my finger nail, that didn't even work so you can't do it unless your flood lamp is totally clear already

Pyrocantha (author)2008-10-16

I saw glass "bulb" containers at Hobby Lobby today. The brass part unscrews and you fill it and decorate it, whatever....It was rather heavy and had a flat base. All you would have to do is drill a hole for the wick, fill and go. Takes all the "Brainwork" out of it, but is is safer for clutzes like me!

What's fun in that?

multipass (author)2008-09-29

One thing that wasn't too clear on either of the bulb lamp instructables was how to break that black glass cleanly without damaging the look of the thing. I had problems because using the listed methods you're likely to make dents or even break the entire bulb. One of these happened to 2 or 3 of my bulbs before I figured it out. If you have needle nose pliers they should fit in the center hole that is visible after ripping off the brass disk. Just stick them in and start bending and pulling. It should break like hard candy and you don't need a hammer or chisel!

jphphotography (author)2008-07-20

Great tutorial! I made a base out of FIMO and put the whole thing (bulb included) into the oven to set the FIMO. You just want to do this BEFORE you put flammable liquids into it. As for the top I used a beer bottle cap, my Dad brews beer so he had solid silver ones without writing on them. For the wick you can't beat an old shoelace, just make sure its cotton and not a synthetic fiber. Oh ya, the salt trick is perfect, I'm glad I read your tutorial first. There are others that used tooth brushes or wads of paper which I'm sure would have taken much longer. Start to finish for the second one was about 10min or less.

I bet the silver bottle cap looks great! I'd though of a fimo base, but thinking doesn't finish projects, does it? What color/shape did you go with?

Unfortunately I only had brown Fimo kicking around so thats what I used. As for the shape its kinda hard to explain without a picture, I'm at work right now so I can't upload one. I basically made a 4 point star and pressed the bulb in the middle. I then took each "spine" of the star and curved it up along the bulb. I then took and curved each of the spines into a rough "C" shape and the result kinda looked like a 4 legged octopus (a quartopuss?) enveloping the base of the bulb. It was all just a test and I didn't really put a lot of thought into it. I've since picked up some silver fimo but haven't had a chance to make any more lamps, when I do I'll try and post the results. Thanks again for the instructable.

freakmonkey (author)2008-06-13

You could also just use cooking oil if that's all you have laying around.

Grey_Wolfe (author)freakmonkey2008-06-14

Cooking oil's rather smokey when burning.

freakmonkey (author)Grey_Wolfe2008-06-14

In my experience it only smokes if the wick is too long.

Grey_Wolfe (author)freakmonkey2008-07-16

Hadn't tried it with a wick. Had a roommate that set a pan of crisco on fire when he was crisping tortillas. Big solid cloud of smoke came off of it. Took 45mins before the fire alarms in the house shut up. They were hard wired, so we couldn' turn them off, and no batteries to take out. We all sat on the curb outside because it was so loud.

I've never really been happy with any lamp I've made burning cooking or olive oil. I really recommend shelling out the two bucks and buying a bottle of lamp oil. BUT desperate times do call for desperate measures. Thanks for the input.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm just another person out there trying to get the most out of life. I love to expole the world around me and try ... More »
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