Introduction: Remove Broken Light Bulbs Without Getting Cut or Shocked Using a Water Bottle

Picture of Remove Broken Light Bulbs Without Getting Cut or Shocked Using a Water Bottle

I made this instructable for the "SAVE THE BOTTLE" contest. I know there are other ways of getting this piece out but I wanted find a good use for a water bottle. The risk of getting shocked is pretty much non existant with a water bottle when compared to a potato or pliers.

Remove Broken Light Bulbs Without Getting Cut or Shocked With A Water Bottle.

Have you ever tried to remove a light bulb and had it break in your hand. DON'T try to get the metal piece out with your hands or pliers. You could get shocked or cut! Here's an instructable on how to use an ordinary water bottle to extract that piece.

Step 1: Remove Label, Lid and Collar

Picture of Remove Label, Lid and Collar

First, TURN THE LIGHT SWITCH OFF. Now, if it's a lamp with a cord and plug then, UNPLUG THE LIGHT. Then, double check the light switch is off. Then double check that it's unplugged. If you've ever been shocked you'll know why I repeated those steps. LEARN from my mistakes here people! Haha The devise we're making is plastic so you're not likely to be shocked even if the power is on but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Now, take an empty water bottle. The heftier ones are better for this application. Remove the cap, the label and the little ring around the neck that breaks when you take the lid off.

Step 2: Melt the Bottle Neck

Picture of Melt the Bottle Neck
Now, heat the threaded part over the stove or a lighter until it gets soft. Then shape it with your hands until it looks like this. DON'T touch the hot plastic too long. Just short spurts like the video. You can dip it in water to cool it down or let it air dry.

Step 3: Remove the Broken Light Bulb

Picture of Remove the Broken Light Bulb

... when you push and twist so you don't get glass on you. If you've ever had glass lodged under your skin or in your eye you'll know why I repeated that four times. Again, learn from my mistakes here.

Congratulations, now you've removed the entire bulb without getting cut or electrocuted.

PS if you put a tiny bit of petroleum jelly on the threads of the new bulb it will be easier to take out when it burns out next time.


MissEllenCat made it! (author)2017-10-28

I was surprised at how well this worked! Quick and easy! Thanks!

AdamC285 (author)2017-04-23

Easy solution, use a big carrot, always works

PrudenceMcC (author)2016-12-11

Yikes. Melting plastics is hazardous--both because of the fumes and the possibility of burning yourself. Making that a key part of this fix is unwise.

So is failing to instruct people to TURN OFF THE POWER to hardwired fixtures. Yes, it's a PITA, but it's the only way you know you're safe. Read HowtoDan's post for why.

Family Handyman recommends against putting petroleum jelly on bulb threads. They recommend Bulb EZ.

The recommendations on goggles is excellent, something people might forget. So are thick gloves and no unprotected skin on the wrists and forearms.

Myself, I'll be trying a sponge rubber, the kind used to remove soot, first, then needle-nose pliers on my exterior floodlight. WITH THE POWER OFF, of course.

HowtoDan (author)2016-10-10

Just so you know

When you turn off a light switch. You do not shut off the power to the light. You break the circuit between power and ground (actually neutral but let's keep things simple). The danger is, even if you shut off the light switch, while you are playing with the broken light bulb you might become the ground for the circuit. The power is still going to the light but the circuit is not complete until either the switch is moved or you and your potato become a ground and both get cooked.

Play safe, turn off the breaker at the panel.

Mary KayB2 (author)2016-10-05

Ok before I read this, I got the broken bulb out but couldnt turn the base thread to b get socket out. Used pliers and now base is mangled and broken. How do I now get it out? Im stuck because it wont move and its all chewed up. Help!! Help!!

frankweir (author)2016-09-13

I've always just turned off the main power at my circuit breaker box
and then used needle nose pliers to loosen and remove the bulb base
although I would assume just turning off the switch would suffice. Isn't
that what a light wall switch does? Turns power to the socket on and

2createawebsite (author)2016-06-18

This worked like a charm. I turned off the power in that room via the circuit breakers first just to be safe. The bottle opening was a tad bit too big but I was able to angle it and unscrew it with no problem. Thank you! You probably saved me about $200 in electrician fees!

AllieM10 made it! (author)2016-04-10

it totally worked.. Thank you!!!

KellyS21 made it! (author)2015-09-08

Right, so was in this situation..... burnt my index finger and thumb trying your method..

then went to the pound shop .. got some blue tac and a strong bottle

bluetac over the rim of the bottle

pushed it into the light bulb, turned and twisted and popped off str8 away


daniellong2 (author)2015-07-07

disconnect the lamp and use gloves, but nice instructable, anyways

I KICKK (author)2015-03-09

Well we just got mine out using eletric proof pliers. Probably saved about an hour not doing this. xD

schabanow (author)2015-03-04

A pair of pliers as an alternative... o_0

guitarman63mm (author)2009-01-28

Why not simply turn it off and use pliers? To my knowledge, there's a very simple circuit employed in such things..Plug, resistor, transformer, and an electrolytic cap; no? The only thing that could cause a problem is the cap, but unless you bridge the contacts, I don't see the danger.

prabbit22m (author)guitarman63mm2009-01-29

Ever been shocked guitarman? Maybe I'm alone with this opinion but I don't like it. For ME it's not worth the risk, I would rather be safe than sorry. So, I try my best to use only insulated tools around electricity. I figure, if professional electricians have specially tools made of plastic, polymer or fully insulated and they are professionals who should never forget to turn something off, the average Joe me should probably be as cautious as possible. Humm, Resistor, Transformer, Capacitor (you forgot inductor, transistor and rectifier)... There are none of those components in any standard light fixtures I've ever seen. Maybe in Bill Gates' house!

acesnanna (author)prabbit22m2009-01-29

Actually as an Instructable it is clear concise and well written...Your language is clear, your wording is well written AND all your adjectives and adverbs are in the right places.Your pictures are crisp and clear it is very educational....I'm sorry I whizzed in your cheerios.. Though; by so doing YOU have opened a line of thought about Mercury in the environment...THE less the better....and LED lighting...THAT is a very good subject ! YOU did that! The whole idea is commendable...You Also stressed safety factors..On the whole it is good! And so many comments are just as well written..Thank You! Ace'sNanna

prabbit22m (author)acesnanna2009-01-29

No worries Ace's Nanna. Thanks for the comments. Any stimulating conversation is worth having. Oh, don't get me started on proper grammar. This country’s grammar is spiraling down into a black abyss of illiteracy. I blame text messaging and interpretive text for the recent sonic speed at which it’s traveling. Haha that reminds me. My wife is a great pianist but is too busy to play much lately. She said she sat down to play after a few weeks of procrastinating and could tell she had the mentality while reading and playing that “if I just get close it will come out okay” and she knew this mentality was from interpretive iPhone typing. What’s next? Maybe I should invent a piano that recognizes what song you’re playing or can tell if the note you hit won’t sound good and hit the right note instead. Hahaha … The iPiano!

paqrat (author)prabbit22m2010-09-08

I enjoyed the instructable too. Also have to agree with you about state of grammar today. What really gripes me is when it appears in the newspaper. I think " c'mon, people you are getting paid for this".

acesnanna (author)prabbit22m2009-01-30

Isn't it shocking to think who will be Picking our NURSING HOMES!!! Son who is in his thirties winks at me occasionally as a reminder, and chuckles! Now the good news....One of the boys I despaired for is one of the BEST sales men I ever met....and he is a very good parent! There are "good parts" to getting old too....Some of those "good parts" are seeing the "seeds you planted, grow and flower!" I see so many young people I fed, laughed with , and occasionally had as" long term" house guests. Some thought they were "Throw away" kids..... I've always been good at recycling!!! Some of the GEMS I have found, just Laying around!!!! Probably that is why I like these pages so well... There is so very much talent here and all of you are willing to share it with us for free!!

prabbit22m (author)acesnanna2009-01-31

It must be wonderful seeing your seeds grow and your uncut gems sparkle. Couldn't agree more about instructables. They've got a great think tank opperation going on here. Thanks You EVERYONE involved.

acesnanna (author)prabbit22m2009-01-30

Thank you for your forgiving nature! When my children were applying for entrance to different colleges we each proof read their "product".....I was shocked to see their spelling.....then realized it's genetic...I couldn't live without spell check! Before that it was FRANKLIN.... I think you are quite right about the written word suffering from disuse!! What president wanted our schools to teach "Ebonics?" Two hundred years people have been working to crawl UP! What a travesty that would have been! Perhaps it wouldn't hurt for us to go back a hundred years for education standards. I know many people who have graduated this local "A rated" school. People who graduated without the abilities to read or to express them selves in basic English! America needs to do something! Washington State had a Wasel exam. The children had to pass these basic questions before graduating! They were administering the test in Senior year. The basic test was great. It should have been administered in sixth grade. Everything including your local paper is written at a sixth grade level! Instead of using it earlier to see what their needs are, they discontinued the test because to many kids were failing ! If they couldn't pass it in sixth grade; they could USE the help in the things they were missing, so they would truly be educated when they graduated! Then there is the aspect of Each child fitting into some mold, cookie cutter kids! Shhhhhhhh just pass me the ADHD Pill! Aces'Nanna

prabbit22m (author)acesnanna2009-01-30

Oh, I think that was president Jessey Jackson ... President number 42 1/2

prabbit22m (author)acesnanna2009-01-30

Haha, Ace's you're killing me! Hahaha. You're the best! True, I don't know what I would do without spell check either. At least I try to learn from it and not just use it as a crutch. When I check spelling and it doesn't find any mistakes I feel like the teacher just gave me a big gold star sticker on my homework. :) My wife taught ESL (English as a Second Language) for a few years and they wanted her to teach such words as: Kinda, Gimme and Wanna! That's one hell of a story about the exam. I guess it goes to show that not all decisions are based on what's morally best. In fact I would venture to gess that most aren't these days. They were probably losing funds with less graduates. Aggg ... what is this world coming to? Oh, and the cookie cutter kids and drug resolutions ... don't even get me started. The youth of our nation is doomed. The worst part is, when I'm ready to retire, they'll be running the place. Can you imagine? Eeek.

guitarman63mm (author)prabbit22m2009-01-29

Sorry if I came off a bit hostile. I have been shocked through my own carelessness, though it was only several amps. True, better safe than sorry. I'm referring to the components in a lamp adapter's casing....last time I opened one up, that's what I saw.

_soapy_ (author)guitarman63mm2009-02-09

I doubt you were shocked by several amps - you'd be dead.

It's the volts that jolt, and the mills that kill. And by mills, it refers to milliamps, thousandths of an amp. 65mA across your heart is pretty certainly deadly. Above 200mA the heart is totally overwhelmed and goes into fibrillation. Several amps would have boiled your water and blown you to bits.

Personally, I'd use a voltmeter or a neon or a voltstick to test the power at the socket, then I'd try this trick with the plastic bottle. No potato juice to clear up, either!

guitarman63mm (author)_soapy_2009-02-09

Exactly, across your heart. That amperage statement was certainly just a random figure, but hypothetically, if both electrodes are, say, half a foot a way from each other in your leg, the 'circuit', per say, wouldn't go through your heart.

I know not the actual figures, only that in my more naïve days, I shocked myself many times on live circuits (using 9v, still carrying hefty mA)

_soapy_ (author)guitarman63mm2009-02-17

You shocked yourself with 9V? I'm not even sure that is possible, unless you stab yourself with the electrodes, or test on your tongue. <br/><br/>Assuming you were properly earthed, and your skin resistance was for damp or broken skin, at about 1000 ohms (rather than 100x that for dry skin) then you will have taken a whopping 9mA.<br/><br/>V=IR --> V/R=I <br/>9= I * 1000 --> 9/1000 = I = 0.009 Amps or 9mA<br/><br/>So yes, surely you are lucky to be alive, showering with a 9V battery.<br/>

guitarman63mm (author)_soapy_2009-02-17

Did you ever consider the fact that it wasn't a battery, but a power adapter?

_soapy_ (author)guitarman63mm2009-02-23

Which is heavier, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?

prabbit22m (author)_soapy_2009-02-09

Yes, "across your heart" that MIGHT be true. That's to say if you pushed metal pins through your chest that touched your heart on both sides and put that voltage and current thorugh.

Here's the thing about voltage and current and why I kind of chuckle when people say it's the amps that kill not the volts. Ohm's law states that volts and amps are directly related. Volts = Amps x Resistance. People never say, resistance is what kills, although that would have the same merrit in my mind. You see, depending on how far away the wires are when they touch you, how moist your skin is, how much water you drank etc determines the resistance of you and the circut you'll be completing when you touch the wires. When you touch wires in your house you will ALWAYS experience that voltage (110V in USA 220 elswhere). Voltage is a constant in this equation if we're talking about house wiring (except dryer,stove) Depending on the resistance YOU create (distance of wires when they touch you and your moisture ect) is the ONLY determining factor of how many amps will be drawn through those wires and through you. And, since those wires can deliver a lot of amps (say a 10 amp breaker) the only thing that decides how much current you absorb is your resistance.

Ohms law also concludes taht if the resistance you make is exactly the same and you get shocked with 220V vs 110V you'll get souble the amperage through you at 220V as compared to 110V. Please look this up if you disagree because it's true. V=IR IF R remains constant and V is doubled then I has to be double.

How else would you explain being shocked by a 12V battery in a car? it's capable of 600 Amps (the starter uses about 300 Amps) and yet you can barely feel the shock when you touch the pos and neg terminal with each hand (even moist). It certainly doesn't kill you "because of the amps". This is because the resistance your body createst to complete the circuit is high rendering only a small amount of current to pass. YOUR resistance is the only thing that regulates the amps drawn.

Your body had a very high resistance. It takes a LOT of power to get even the smallest amount of electricity to the center of your chest and across your heart. That's why Defibrillators use THOUSANDS of Volts and up to 30 Amps (not miliamps)

Being shocked by several amps is easily surviveable and quite common. Here's an instruction manual for a defibrillator analyzer. It's a machine that you can hook up any defib and see it's output. On LOW mode it's range is 1000V and 24 Amps (not miliamps). Ohms law proves that is the same amouht of watts (energy ie joules) as 218 Amps at 110V! WOW. Of course there's some other science and physics involved that give reason to use higher voltage and lower amperage. Higher voltage penetrates and travels with less loss. It's the same same reason the electricity company uses high voltage on power lines and then uses a transformer to step down the voltage to your house so the electricity can travel farther without loss. There is also biology to consider and your body's resonance and natural voltage potential. That's why they use monophasic and biphasic pulses or waves of energy.

So, now on to stun guns and tasers. Those create 10,000 to 50,000 volts! The same as a good coil on a car (all us mechanics have experienced that before!). The limiting factor on thigs like that is the current. Unlike the high current potential of the house wiring, theses small devices are only capable of producing a certain amount of power and have timers to only allow it for a small amount of time. Tazers and stun guns are about .003 Amps (that's 3 miliamps).

Let's just use this question to determine if "amps is what kills"
Let's say you had a choice to either be shocked by a source that was 10,000 and .003 amps (a taser) or a source that was 12 volts and 1 amp (a laptop charger transformer). Which would you choose? The one with the higher amps I bet.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, I'm an electrical engineer and I can't stop myself.

_soapy_ (author)prabbit22m2009-02-17

Yes and no. I can't fully agree with your statement there, because I said "shocked by several amps" and you agreed with me - by pointing out that he didn't take several amps at all. That the voltage source has the potential to put out several amps (or even hundreds of amps) makes no difference, as there is rarely enough voltage to drive it across the high resistance of the skin.

This is why Tazers have little barbs to stab you with on the ends of the wires. Gets through the skin.

If you actually took several amps through any part of your body, you would (probably) be unable to let go, the muscles would be fully contracted and your nervous system overridden. After a minute or two, you'd start to smell of cooking meat, but the pain would be barely noticeable. After a while, you would die.

If you *have* to test something as live HV, do it with the back of your hand - that way you can't grab hold and not let go. Then just hope it isn't both HV and high powered, or that spark could be powerful enough for your skin to boil instantly.

You can test this by getting a steak and making it twitch with a battery, then putting a mains lead through it. If you want to simulate high powered RF, stick it in your microwave.

prabbit22m (author)_soapy_2009-02-17

Yes, tazers have barbs to help get energy directly into your body better, but also, just as important if not more, so the user can be a safe distance from the suspect. What about stun guns? They can have the same effect (the good ones anyway) even over clothes. They just have to overcome the resistance of clothes and air gap. Yes, I agree with this comment >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> "That the voltage source has the potential to put out several amps (or even hundreds of amps) makes no difference" >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> BUT only when it's a low voltage. I guess what I was trying to say is that there is always only ONE thing that limits how much amperage runs through you. Either the devise's voltage is limited to a low value so that when applied to your resistance only draws a certain amount of current like a car battery that is CAPABLE of 600 amps but limits voltage to 12V so when applied to your body only draws 12ma. >>> OR, the source has a limited current and can only produce a certain amount of amperage like a taser that has high voltage but limits the current. In this case the amperage potential of the voltage source determines if it's a "prick", a "knock you down" or a "kill you" shock. So there are two cases here, both with different determining factors. Just because something has high amperage potential has nothing to do with how many amps the person will take because their resistance determines that. --->The Resistance Of Your Body Is The Determining Factor In How Many Amps Will Be Drawn In This Case<--- But, with high voltage, the amount of ammperage the circuit is capable of delivering is very important because this is often what determines how many amps will flow. Some stun guns are 50KV and 50,000 volts across 1000 ohms (your body's resistance) is 50 amps. If stun guns had the potential to produce 600 amps like a car battery they would be leathal. -->The Amperage Potential Of These Devices Are The Determining Factor Of How Much Current Will Be Drawn<-- Maybe we can make a statement that brings it all together? Something like: The amount of soruce voltage and a persons resistance is what determines how many amps will be drawn through the person. The higher the voltage and the lower the resitance, the higher the current. HOWEVER, this only holds true until the potential current of the source has reached it's maximum (or limited) potential. In which case the amount of current drawn through the person is determined by the current limiting features of the devise. How does that sound?

prabbit22m (author)guitarman63mm2009-01-29

No no you're not hostile. it's all in good fun. I would imagine there would be those electronics in a light if it were a DC bulb using AC as a source. Thanks for the comments

ac-dc (author)prabbit22m2009-02-05

Any incandescent DC bulb (glass w/filament like this one that broke) will run from AC, there would be no need for any other electronics besides a step-down transformer if it were a low voltage lamp.

You ABSOLUTELY CAN be shocked by a circuit that is powered off. The switch only breaks the circuit on the common/hot/black/brass (whatever you call it, I'm in the USA) lead. The white lead stay connected. If any other circuit that shares that white lead is on, then that white lead is energized because it is connected to the black lead through said device. So, that clock that you don't want to have to reset, is turning you white lead into a hot lead. Then if your body acts as a bridge between the white lead and the ground/bare you will get shocked. I wire light fixtures all the time and get shocked regularly by this. I've gotten so used to it that I now wire electrical outlets hot too. It's just something you must be aware of. Getting shocked when you don't expect it is very dangerous. Your reaction to the shock can put you in serious jeopardy.

Goedjn (author)RichardBronosky2009-02-09

The Neutral (white) conductor is supposed to be continuous
to ground, if you get a significant shock while from touching
that, there's something wrong with the house wiring. (which isn't
particularly unusual, but it shouldn't be the rule). More to the
point, though, even on a hot circut, if you're standing on a wooden
ladder you shouldn't be getting shocks at all. Even if the potato (or pliers,
or whatever) touches both the hot *AND* the nuetral/ground,
the current should just go through the potato, not you.
Now if you stick your FINGER in there, that's likely to hurt.

prabbit22m (author)Goedjn2009-02-09

I'm going to have to disagree with your wooden block argument. I agree that if the pliers touch the wires you won't get shocked but you'll see sparks. I also agree there shouldn't be voltage on white. But I know from experience that if you touch the black wire or touch pliers that are touching the black wire or slip off the insulating plastic of the pliers while they are touching the black you can get shocked regardless of what you're standing on. If the black is hot then all you need I'd to be touching the base of the lamp to complete the circuit.

laznz1 (author)2009-01-31

HOW TO REMOVE A BROKEN OFF LIGHT BULB 1.Cut a potato in half 2. Ram on Broken metal 3.Twist SIMPLE and SAFE

paqrat (author)laznz12010-09-08

I've used the potato to good effect.

prabbit22m (author)laznz12009-01-31

I already had that comment 3 times. I already responded to that comment 3 times. I already modified the very first paragraph of the instructable to cover this comment. Why don't people read past comments before posting? Here's a scenerio for you laznz1. Let's say this broken bulb is in a light fixture on the ceiling and there are two switches going to it. You know, the type where you can turn in off from a switch at the top of the stairs or the bottom and up or down being off or on changes depending on which switch was used last? Now, the bulb burned out yesterday and you have no idea how many times someone has tried to turn it on. You have absolutely no way of knowing if there is high voltage at the light socket. Your choices are: 1: Ram a wet potato in the socket and have a 50% chance of shock 2: Go buy a voltmeter 3: Turn off the breaker and then spend the next 3 hours resetting all the clocks and alarms and VCR's, Microwave, etc 4: Take a few seconds to make this water bottle tool? Do you know how much water is in a potato? Weigh a bag of potato chips. Then weigh the same amount of potatoes you think it took to make that bag of chips. The difference in weight is mostly water.

ac-dc (author)prabbit22m2009-02-05

This is unreasonable. Any sane person dealing with broken, potentially still live AC powered items, unplugs them or flips the circuit beaker/pulls fuse, NOT shoving anything (even non-conductive because the circuit could still be shorted by part of the bulb or dodgy wiring) in until they know the circuit isn't live. It is not likely all the clocks are on the same circuit as one light, it would take about 1 minute to reset a clock, if we are talking about safety then never wonder, flip the breaker on the circuit or leave the job to someone who knows or has a meter to test whether it's live still.

prabbit22m (author)ac-dc2009-02-05

Agreed. Flipping the breaker is DEFINATELY the safest way to go. Or hiring a professional. But this world is full of people who insist on doing it themselves without knowing FOR SURE it's not live. I'm just trying to give those people ideas to reduce their risk. New homes are great and have circuit breakers labled. My old home doesn't. I can either start tripping breakers and hope that circuit is among the first I try (and again, how will you know you tripped the right breaker if the bulb is burnt out??) or turn the whole house off. But, yes, I agree 100% to make sure the circuit is off if they have the means of testing it. If not they should call a professional.

sarge89or (author)prabbit22m2009-06-23

Try tripping the breakers one at a time and make a list of which breaker controls what circuit. Then in the future you will know which one to trip. Duh, guess you never thought of that.

ac-dc (author)prabbit22m2009-02-05

If the home doesn't have a clear diagram of the circuits on the breaker box, that should be done right away, before a light bulb or anything else breaks. If one is unsure, generally it is better to at least flip the breaker for the circuit it seems to be on, rather than leaving that circuit live. Non-ground-faulted outlets in the same room are most likely on the same circuit for example so at least by plugging a lamp into one of those you can tell when that circuit is off. You can be reasonably sure the light is not on the same circuit as something distant, because the electrician won't have wound a single piece of wire in several different directions instead of the straightest run possible per area where it terminates, but again if there is any doubt it would be worthwhile to turn off any breaker in question, resetting a clock is a minor inconvenience considering light bulbs don't break in their sockets all that often.

laznz1 (author)prabbit22m2009-01-31

1: Ram a wet potato in the socket and have a 50% chance of shock its is completly safe ive done it for years

prabbit22m (author)laznz12009-01-31

I'm glad it's been working for you laz. I, personally would rather not take the risk but that's just my opinon.

Matt4_16 (author)laznz12009-02-06

always works for me (the potato that is)

Plasmana (author)Matt4_162009-02-06

But is that a waste of money?

Matt4_16 (author)Plasmana2009-02-06

What kind of expensive potatoes do you buy?

Punkguyta (author)Matt4_162009-06-23

I buy Yukon Gold spuds, they cost more than speckled salmon or canned albacore, dontchaknow?

what do you do with empty bottles?

About This Instructable




Bio: I would love to find a job where I could play with fabrication tools all day and be creative. Anyone have a suggestion?
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