Cool Cloud Lamp!




About: I've had many different jobs in my life, but I've discovered my passion: Mental Health Counseling. However, that doesn't keep me from still being a technogeek!

Make a very neat lava-like lamp for less than $10 in parts. Uses only soap and water. No chemicals, easy, fun, and the results are incredibly neat!

I added some cheap plastic eyeballs and suspended them from the lid with thread to make an Eerie Halloween Display!

Step 1: Supplies You'll Need

The main things you'll need are a 6" piece of THICK PVC pipe, a 15-25 watt bulb (you can go as high as 40, but the base can get pretty hot at 40), and "pearlized" liquid handsoap that contains glycol stearate or glycol distearate (should be listed on the ingredients of the bottle). Avoid anything that has moisturizers or additives like aloe, etc. Click on the pictures for a full list of the supplies I used.

Step 2: Build the Base

Sand off and trim any plastic leavings on the top and bottom of the PVC pipe. Notch the bottom of the pipe for the cord. You can glue the bottle to the base, but I recommend using an old mouse pad and fashioning a rubber seat you can place the bottle on and glue the ring to the top of the PVC pipe. See pics for illustration.

Step 3: Prepping the Bottle

Soak off any labels in soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Fill the bottle about 3/4 full with warm water. Add 7-10 squirts of the handsoap, screw on the lid and shake well until the soap is mixed. Then "top off" the bottle by adding water to about 1" from the top. (This allows for air expansion as the bottle heats up). I recommend creating a rubber seal for the lid by cutting another piece of the mousepad you used for the base. Cut to fit inside the lid. This helps insure that no water leaks out of the top.

Step 4: Get Ready to Rock!

You can leave the bottom of the bottle clear, but adding some color with magic markers can give it a nice dramatic effect. Place the bottle on the base, plug in the cord, and watch as clouds form and swirl around in the jar. Pictures really don't do it justice. If you'd like, you can view my video on this project below. Expect to have your friends ask you to make these for them! 8)

Step 5: Halloween Mod!

Here's a Halloween Mod I came up with. I used a red permanent marker to draw the dripping blood on the base and the bottom of the jar for the color. I then used some cheap plastic eyeball favors and drilled holes in the backs to fill them with water. I then used sewing pins to suspend the eyeballs from the lid with white thread, and the Eyes of Doom Lamp was born! The coolest part is that the eyes sway with the water currents while mystical swirling red clouds float around them... AHHHHHHH!!!!! 8D



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    173 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Just found this instructable, and wanted to mention that the liquid you're making is called "rheoscopic fluid". Here's an instructable on making some with an alternative way that may be useful for this lamp too:


    3 years ago

    Carbon tetrachloride isn't used anymore. For DIY lava lamps, tetrachloroethylene is a better option. It is also known as Perc, and is used by dry cleaners. Still, it is a possible carcinogen and extreme care (masks and goggles) must be taken when it is still in liquid form. As soon as it is mixed with the wax, it shouldn't give off fumes anymore. A full guide on that is found here. I am planning on trying it as I can get the required chemicals, and I have an empty lava lamp.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I've completed a couple of these, and this is a great idea!  I have put up a video of my build, since it looks like the one in the Instructable isn't there anymore, you can see it here:

    I used "Softsoap with rich moisturizing Shea Butter Beads" for my lamps.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    carbon tetrachloride can cause many health issues when concentrated so thats probably why they stopped using it. I would be suprised if you could buy it.

    2 replies

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I once mixed some bronze powder with white spirit and got good 'clouds',
    put between 2 sheets of glass, I could leave a 'hand print' in the cloud,
    was going to add a lamp to warm up one end to make a 'hurricane'...
    and hang it on the wall
    might try again with some thrown out double glazing...

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    If you have a blacklight, fill the bottle with tonic water instead of regular water, makes it glow in the blacklight, sooooooooooo cool!!

    STi 33W

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Here is mine. I made it as a present for my gf. I used an actual lamp as my base (with some modification) and a 25W bulb. I painted the base of the jar blue with a sharpie. The heart in the middle is just a blue coat hanger. I'm not sure if I have the mixture right, or if I have a strong enough bulb. I've had it on for almost 8 hours and no problems. I think 25W is as high as I will go. Mostly because the base has rice paper windows. Excellent Instructable. I will let you know if my gf likes it ;)

    Love Light 001.jpgLove Light 002.jpg
    8 replies

    Yes, she loved it. She thought it was very romantic and she couldn't believe that I had made it myself out such random things. I also received a present that night ;)

    berky93STi 33W

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    strange, she gave me the exact same present that night! lol just kidding. the lamp looks awesome btw


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    O MG berky 93 that is the funniest thing I have seen on here. cute. any way I think I remember something about denatured acohol and glycerine? is that maybe possible? Or is that light an explosion and fire waiting to happen like it sounds. I don't know I just remember a friend making these Slow Motion Ocean things back in the 70s and he put a light on some of them.

    STi 33Wberky93

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I wonder if you can embed a rimshot to go along with that comment ;) Actually, as an update, that girl cheated on me and we are no longer together... The lamp still works though.

    CyrusSTi 33W

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Did you replace the heart that was in it with a broken one? That would be so emo.