Lava lamps drift in and out of fashion, but they’re rarely far from the minds of interior designers.
They’re decorative items that provide stimuli or calmness to a bedroom. If you’re considering using a lava lamp for relaxation and to enhance your room decor, you need to understand the risks.
If you have a lava lamp in your bedroom, turn it off before you sleep at night. Most lava lamps are intended for no more than 8 hours of usage per session.
Any longer than this means your lava lamp is at risk of catching fire.
Are Lava Lamps Safe for a Bedroom?
Lava lamps can make an interesting addition to any bedroom due to the vast array of colors available.
You can use lava lamps to create a calming or stimulating environment, enhancing existing bedroom color schemes based on paint or wallpaper.
The striking visuals produced by lava lamps are created by heat. The ‘lava’ element is created by wax, usually blending perchloroethylene and paraffin. The liquid the wax floats in is water, antifreeze, and salt.
A glass container holds these liquid and wax states, and a direct heat source is required to make a lava lamp. A 40-watt bulb will initiate the movement of the wax.
Lava lamps are a marvel of engineering and science, but they can be dangerous. Combining all these materials means you have a flammable object on your hands.
How Long Can I Leave My Lava Lamp on?
If you’ve purchased a lava lamp from a store, carefully review the safety information. Typically, this will recommend that the light isn’t switched on for more than 8-10 hours.
Abide by these guidelines, as a lava lamp left to burn too long can become dangerous. Lava lamps are designed to help you enjoy the light show they create, not sleep through it.
What Happens if You Leave a Lava Lamp on Too Long?
The movement of wax produces the color that makes a lava lamp so visually appealing.
It’s heated by the 40-watt bulb at the bottom of the light, and this heat reduces the density of the resin, encouraging it to rise. As the wax reaches the top of a lava lamp, it cools off and starts to sink back to the bottom, where the process begins again.
Running a lamp for too long without a break must be avoided because it becomes a fire hazard.
Can I Leave My Lava Lamp on Overnight?
The light displays are to be admired, not slept through. Leaving a lava lamp on while you rest disturbs your sleep and creates a safety risk.
The most significant risk of a lava lamp is fire. Aside from switching off the lava lamp and leaving it to cool off fully, basic safety steps to keep a lava lamp in a bedroom fireproof include:
- Avoiding clutter around the light, especially flammable materials, such as paper or books.
- Keep an eye on the aesthetics of the lamp. If the wax is not flowing, switch it off at once.
- Don’t touch a lava lamp that has recently been in use.
- Never place the lava lamp on or near another direct heat source, including a windowsill that allows direct sunlight.
- Never use a lamp with a greater wattage than 40.
Lava lamps are best located in a larger bedroom, locating the light somewhere far from anything else that would impact it and on as long as a lead as possible.
Can Lava Lamps Catch on Fire?
Homemade or low-cost lava lamps are the likeliest to catch fire.
Any lamp left plugged in constantly without the opportunity to cool off is a risk, though. Equally, replacing a 40-watt bulb with a more robust alternative increases the risk.
If you have a lava lamp in your bedroom, consider having a fire extinguisher on hand. This isn’t to be alarmist but advised as a precaution. Unplug your lava lamp enough, and it won’t be a concern.
Can Lava Lamps Topple Over?
Lava lamps are only as sturdy as the materials used to create them and the location they’re found in. This means that a lava lamp could fall over, and when it does so, the risk of fire is elevated.
A lava lamp could be knocked over by the following:
- A sharp gust of wind through an open window.
- Clumsy and explorative pets, most notably cats.
- Kicking and thrashing in your sleep.
- Knocks to the lamp when making a bed or getting dressed.
The hazards of a lava lamp being knocked over aren’t restricted to fire.
The contents of a lava lamp are toxic to humans and animals. Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine explains how ingesting the contents of a lava lamp leads to blood disorders.
Some people find lava lamps exciting, while others find the light show relaxing.
If you fall into the latter camp, there’s much to like about relaxing to the light show of a lava lamp. Like TV screens and other forms of stimulation, lava lamps must be used sparingly at night.
There’s no denying that a lava lamp excites the senses. Some parents of autistic children use them to create an environment of controlled visual stimuli.
You’ll need to allow time to calm your mind down. If in doubt, switch off a lava lamp no less than an hour before bed. This should be enough time for your eyes to calm down, leading to a relaxing night’s sleep.
Increased Ambient Temperature and Noise
Many people use a lava lamp to relax and unwind. Such an appliance, especially a cheaper version, will likely have the opposite effect if you sleep with it switched on.
Consider the noise that a cheap lava lamp will emit. Like all poor-quality technology, a constant low hum is likely to be emitted. That may not seem a big deal, but it can grow infuriating.
Humming technology is one of those things that, once heard, can no longer be ignored. Before too long, you’ll likely need another noise to distract you. If you prefer to sleep in silence, that will become an issue.
Another consideration is the heat that’ll be released from a lava lamp. As explained, a lava lamp is hot at the base and cool at the top, and this heat will spread and radiate, potentially increasing the ambient temperature in the room and keeping you awake.
Burning Out the Lamp
All lava lamps have a shelf life. On average, you’ll get about 10,000 hours of use from a superior, store-bought lava lamp. However, if you keep it on overnight, that time will be much reduced.
This is even more likely if you make a lava lamp at home, as you’ll find that the lamp burns out sooner. Avoid replacing the bulb with a more powerful alternative because it’ll magnify the risk of an accident.
Lava lamps are best enjoyed during the early evening before retiring for the night. Use the light show provided by the lamp to calm down before the end of the evening.
For safety reasons, you must switch off the lamp and let it cool before sleeping.