Picture of Wine Bottle LED Gel Lamp
Recycle an old cell phone charger and wine bottle into a gel filled LED lamp.

Step 1: Parts List

Parts needed:
- empty wine bottle and cork (I used a 1.5L bottle)
- wire
- blue and red LEDs
- 220 Ohm and 100 Ohm resistors
- small toggle switch
- gel candle wax

I got the gel wax from Michaels for $32.23 with a 40% off coupon. There is enough wax to fill three 1.5L bottles.
The wire, switch, resistors, and LEDs all came from RadioShack for about $15.
With $11 worth of wax per bottle and $15 worth of electronics, this project cost about $26 all together. You could get the parts much cheaper online, but I wasn't feeling patient enough for that.

Tools needed:
- drill or drill press
- glass drill bit
- squirt bottle
- clamp
- soldering iron and solder
- wire cutters
- hot glue gun
- funnel
- sticky tack
- a pot to melt the gel wax
- a food thermometer for the wax
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milesduggan4 months ago

I had one major problem and hopefully you could help. When my wax cools in the bottle I get a huge air bubble in the top center of the wax I have tried remelting the wax by heating the bottle and it liquifies but goes back to the big bubble once it cools. What am I doing wrong?

this is so coooooool!!!! I want to do this

Larkin943 years ago
Is there any other substance you can use instead of the gel for example water and just make sure you use waterproof el wire instead of LED's and insulate any naked wiring?
Mineral Oil is non-conductive.
kenkaniff2 years ago
I love this instructable! i gave it a try with some slow-change RGB LEDs, and I think it turned out pretty awesome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJxklSTs024 has a full video. Thanks for the idea! 5*
kkendrick3 years ago
I wonder in what ways the properties of the wax gel is different from possibly and alcohol free based hair gel? if its possible you could create a whole different array of colors and possibly get the gel a bit cheaper. if anyone knows about it please let me know, i love this project!! cheers
bkhurt (author)  kkendrick3 years ago
The gel wax is not runny at all after it has cooled. When you first open the bucket of wax, you can turn it upside down and the wax won't move.
oh i see, thank you. is it possible to inject colored pockets into the wax as it cools to create a lava lamp effect? And can you add food coloring to the wax gel itself for a different color spectrum?
I know this comment is way outdated, but I came across this instructable and thought it was cool.

In regards to your question, what about using something like this to inject food coloring?
maybe melt crayons into it?
Perhaps instead of adding coloring to the wax gel, colored leds, particularly color changing leds would give the desired effect. I'd like to see one that would cycle through colors. I'd really like to do this with one of those glass head display pieces. That and a color changing led.
Easy breezy, just use gelatine like Knox, add to hot fluid and let it set, I used it with great success in Anti-freeze for a cool green glow, that should cost you about 2 dollars, I bet you could come up with some neat effects by layering the gel using different colors or adding opaque fluids such as milk, I had a good cristal look by letting the anti-freeze gel set shredding it with a sharp object, then pouring clear gel in to fill the cracks.

Here is a pic of a tupe with the gel set up, no spills or leaks, very cheep!
test tube 002.JPG
bkhurt (author)  longwinters3 years ago
Knox would be a much cheaper alternative to the gel wax. Does the Knox break down or turn liquid after sitting around for a long time?

Good info on the diamond drill bit too. Thanks!
rose9 bkhurt3 years ago
I googled for a while, and I found this: "One might ask why agar, as opposed to regular gelatin (like that found in Jello), is used for culturing bacteria. The answer is agar, unlike gelatin, won't be degraded (eaten) by bacteria. Also, agar is firmer and stronger than gelatin. It's still possible, however, to use gelatin as a culture medium for bacteria if agar is unavailable."

So yeah, gelatin breaks down, so I'm gonna try it with the agar gel :)
I am so rude, I forgot to tell you I really do like the look you got, good job from a good idea!
I don't know for sure but I would guess so, it is animal based so the biological contaminants would have their way sooner or later I'm sure.

Who knows maybe the breakdown process would look interesting if I had to guess I would think a little hydrogen peroxide would slow down the process quite a bit.

I look at these projects as short term things, build it, enjoy em for a while, and then try something new.

Actually I would like to thank you for the idea of the gel because I have been trying to think of something to suspend glitter in so that I can shoot a red laser into and get some sparkling effect the gel may be the perfect solution, (literally and figuratively)
ok thank you so much for the Knox idea. i am doing it now. it works perfectly and it is a lot cheaper. oh and if you want colors. get food coloring dye. mix with the water. and your good or for clear just use water for it. ;) ~ Thanks
whoneyc22 years ago
My friend and I used normal candle wax and melted it and it was fairly simple. But we wanted the bubbles so we started to use the gel wax but we've ran into some issues. We can't get an even good coat of gel wax. Its either too thin and you can see everything inside, or when we try to pour a larger quantity in there it turns out horribly. How do you get a good even coat on there? is there a trick?
pbaron3 years ago
I love this idea and I'd love to use it for my wedding. What would I need to do if I wanted to bypass the power supply idea and use battery power instead? Would I need to change the types of resistors?
bkhurt (author)  pbaron3 years ago
You could look up the LED Throwie instructable and combine that with the bottle lamp. I need to make another instructable for a battery powered version...
acarballo3 years ago
Whats the science behind the gel getting bubbles? i have some of that gel, but its cooled and crystal clear...how do you get bubbles?
bkhurt (author)  acarballo3 years ago
Let the gel start to cool off before you pour it. The cooler the gel is, the more bubbles will be trapped. Don't let it cool off too much though because you won't be able to pour it, and it will get clogged in the bottle neck.
acarballo3 years ago
Hey, im about to make this project as a gift for my girlfriend, but i was wondering, would it be a good idea to, once my whole circuitry is built and ready to deploy in the gel, should i protect all the cables with heat shrink tubing?
bkhurt (author)  acarballo3 years ago
It wouldn't hurt anything to use heat shrink tubing or electrical tape. I did not use either - I just shaped my wires so they were not near each other.
SQP2883 years ago
This looks like an awesome project!! So how do you connect the LED Circuit to the phone charger because the phone charger is entering through the base and the LED Circuit is at the top of the bottle. Would you not have to connect them before they are both inside the bottle, otherwise that seems a little tricky?

bkhurt (author)  SQP2883 years ago
There was enough slack in the wire to pull it out of the top of the bottle and make the connections.
AndyGadget3 years ago
Another alternative to the gel wax would be the water retaining granules available from any gardening or general hardware shop.  These come as white crystals and you'd need to hydrate them (add water) bit by bit until they've become a gelatinous mass.  Must of the water is locked away in the globs so they aren't as wet as you'd think.  Then add to the bottle and shake to get air-spaces between the globs.  Downside is the moisture and the electronics would produce corrosion in the LED wires.  I found this substance when planning a very similar Instructable using RGB LEDs.
I'm wondering about the safety of using a candle-making product in conjunction with electricity. That stuff is made to burn, so your connections really need to be secure and shielded before sticking them in a bottle of candle wax.

Use "wire pulling gel" instead of a water-based product - it's silicone. No corrosion with this stuff.

You can add fluorescent dye to it, like from a highlighter. Use a UV LED to get it to glow! (remember to wear proper eye protection plz.)

Gelatin (or any other organic substance) will decompose. Yuk. Not recommended.
bkhurt (author)  RaNDoMLeiGH3 years ago
The gel wax isn't made to burn unless it is vaporized by an open flame. I don't believe there is any risk of vaporizing the wax with LEDs, and I don't think there is enough oxygen in the sealed bottle to support a flame.
Dyte3 years ago
awesome project!
So going to make this.
One question regarding this step: where are the LEDs in the final design, resting on top of the gel wax ? Or inside it?
bkhurt (author)  Dyte3 years ago
The LEDs ended up inside the wax.
imawan3 years ago
good job!
jeoncs3 years ago
Awesome stuff! I have been pondering a similar project for some fallout based stuff and the wiring and filler in this is perfect. Thanks a ton!
Led Man3 years ago
ok never mind. so i got it to work. it was just the wiring that i hade set up. so i sodered the resistors to the LEDs and one wire from the 2 resistors to the switch comming out perfectly. so i might get this done tonight if not deffinatly tomorrow :D
pntbal3113 years ago
I would be careful about using tempered glass. Glass-on-glass contact severely weakens the bottle. Having many little pieces of glass on the inside of the bottle would make it very weak and could eventually cause the bottle to break if knocked into.
bkhurt (author)  pntbal3113 years ago
I didn't think about that. I wonder if I can find clear plastic that would give a broken glass effect.
This might be something to consider: https://www.inventables.com/technologies/rubber-glass
You can buy all sorts of plastic baubles in pet shops for decorating your aquarium that are made out of plastic. Some are round, some look like ice cubes, some are weird shapes. Ice cube shape might be fun!
phearlez bkhurt3 years ago
There's a number of paint products meant to create a crackle effect. I am pretty sure they work by drying to a much smaller area (think shrinking concrete) so you might be able to just put a small amount in the bottle and roll it around a little to get it dispersed.
I thought your bead idea was a good one. They have the plastic clear beads at craft stores.
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