Intro: Recycle Old Light Bulbs
Here is a simple, inexpensive use for burned out, used light bulbs of all types and sizes. If you follow these instructions you will be able to quickly create a unique decoration for your home or office. And if you use compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) for this project, you will be protecting the environment by saving your household's bulbs from the land fill. CFL bulbs can contain up to 4 milligrams of mercury, which, if released by breakage, could potentially contaminate the ground water and surrounding ecosystems.
Step 1: Step 1: Materials & Safety Precautions
Gather your materials.
An Inexpensive Glass or Transparent Plastic Container
For the example used in the photos, we purchased this large glass container from the local thrift store for $12.99. The larger the container, the more room you will have to add to it in the future. Yard sales and craft stores are also good places to find a large clear or translucent container.
Used or New Light Bulbs
Any size, type or quantity will do as long as they will fit in your container. Try asking friends and family to give you their old bulbs. You will be surprised at how fast you are able to accumulate an impressive collection of expired lights.
One Strand of LED Christmas Lights
A Source of Electricity
Materials for Safety and/or Cleanup
Broom & Dustpan and/or Vacuum Cleaner
Leather Work Gloves
Dust Mask or Respirator
No other tools are required except your own creativity and manual labor.
Do this project only under the close supervision of a competent adult.
Obey standard practices of using electric outlets, adapters, extension cords, etc. if opting for the lighted version (not shown).
If you do accidentally break any glass, do not panic. Have an adult grab the broom and gently sweep the shards into a dustpan for proper disposal in a wastebasket. If you are using a vacuum cleaner, refer to the owners manual for proper procedures.
Do not walk barefooted in the area for a week or two after the incident.
Step 2: Steps 2 and 3: Assembly & Finished Product
Now, simply fill your container with the light bulbs. Be very gentle when placing the bulbs, so as not to break anything.
As a fancy yet practical touch, you could intertwine a strand of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Christmas lights among the light bulbs and create a neat lamp. (Lamp option not shown due to the author's inability to acquire a strand of LED lights.)
I cannot warn you enough of the dangers of broken light bulbs. After all, the whole point of this instructable is to prevent the breakage of light bulbs, particularly CFL bulbs that contain mercury.
This project is not recommended for individuals residing in regions that are prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters.
Children should not be left unattended around the materials or the finished product.
If you have pets such as cats, dogs, ferrets, etc., consider the animals' behavior or general demeanor before deciding to proceed with making this instructable.
You now have a really cool piece of art and you're doing your part to save the environment at the same time!
Have Fun And Get Creative, But Be Safe!
The light bulbs shown in the photos are Incandescent Bulbs (ILB). Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) (not pictured) pose the greatest threat to the environment due to their mercury content.