Lava, Touch and Salt Lamps — How Do They Work?

Ever wondered how a lava, touch or salt lamp works? Believe it or not, the science behind them is surprisingly simple, yet they contribute such a fabulous amount to the comfort, style and elegance of a living space. Then there’s also the convenience that comes with them because they don’t occupy much space. Below you’ll find out how these three different types of lamp work, as well as receive a few suggestions on how to incorporate them into your living space with maximum impact.

How do lava lamps work?

If you’ve not come across a lava lamp before, these are decorative lamps in which a bright wax-like substance floats suspended in coloured water and forms random shapes. That might not sound especially pretty, but you’d soon change your mind once you see them. The two substances have a similar density but aren’t soluble in each other.

The lamps themselves — also called ‘liquid motion lamps’ — heat and cool the wax repeatedly. This process starts with the light bulb at the bottom, which heats up the wax and causes it to become less dense than the water. The wax then floats to the top of the lamp and cools, becoming heavier than the water again and sinking to the bottom. Rinse and repeat.

Making lava lamps part of the furniture

When you want to depart from the usual classic style of table lamps, floor lamps, or chandeliers. Lava lamps are a cool touch when it comes to decorating your home and can transform any room into a relaxing space, whether you’re using them to create a chill-out-style ambiance in your own little man cave, instill a daily sense of calm in the room when you climb into bed at night or wind down with a movie in the front room.

Note that these lamps don’t light up a whole room, but instead light up only enough to make them glow. They combine well with black lights, which work best in bedrooms and studios, especially if the walls are dark. The room fades away, leaving the lights and the lamp for a stunning effect.

How do touch lamps work?


Touch lamps are very much a what-it-says-on-tin style of lamp. Instead of flipping a switch, you touch the lamp to activate it. One of the main benefits of these lamps is that dust and dirt can’t get into the switch and stop the lamp from working.

The principle of capacitance — the amount of charge (or electrons, in other words) an item can absorb— sits at the heart of their operation. If a circuit was to try to charge a stationary lamp, it would take a specific number of electrons to ‘fill’ it up. If we touch the lamp, we add to the capacity.

Many touch lamps have three different settings for brightness. The settings operate based on the cycles of the power that reaches the bulb. A bulb that has a normal light switch would have ‘full’ power, so to speak, but suppose you turned the power to the bulb on and off 100 times per second. The cycle would be 50% because the bulb is switched on half the time and off the other. This rapid switching on and off forms the basis of the cycles and three different brightness settings of the lamp.

Combining touch lamps with your living space

Touch lamps will always work well in a bedroom. Stand them beside your bed and let them serve you as a handy reading light or mood setter. The dimming control on them will bring about that much-desired calmness that we seek when we retreat to our bedrooms.

Place a touch lamp in the living room and, automatically, you create the feel of a room that’s warm and inviting, since they brighten alcoves and corners up. Touch lamps will also work well with traditional or modern decor. Choosing one with a glass shade will bring some real sparkle to the room or you can opt for a lamp that has a chrome base and would suit a more contemporary style of living room.

How to salt lamps work?

If you’ve not seen a Himalayan salt lamp before, they’re every bit as exotic as they look. These large pieces of pure Himalayan salt contain a small light bulb inside and absorb moisture in the air. The light bulb heats up the water from this moisture, causing it to evaporate and the lamp to release negative ions into the air. Many people believe salt lamps are beneficial for health because these ions soak up pollution in the air and, as a result, improve the quality of the air. Although there’s no hard evidence to prove the health benefits of the lamps, a lot of people perceive these items to increase energy levels and address some of the symptoms of allergies.

Furnishing your home with salt lamps

One of the unbridled joys of salt lamps is that they’re both versatile and cozy looking at the same time. It’s just something about the pinkish–orange hue around them. Although they look nice in any colored room, they’ll work especially well in any room that has a beige color scheme, adding extra warmth to the room.

Like touch lamps, they work well in bedrooms and make them seem inviting. They also sit nicely in reading corners, emitting a decent glow but not quite enough to light the whole room, so that you can engross yourself in that best seller. If you’re concerned about air quality, you may prefer to put your salt lamp in the living room or another room where there’s a TV (TVs produce positive ions, which, in a nutshell, are bad), or in a bathroom where you the crystals can soak up some moisture to produce negative ions.

The lamps above aren’t your average type of lamp. They use simple science to provide greater comfort and convenience in living spaces and, generally, make them a more pleasant place to live. At the same time, they convey a certain sense of style and taste for interior design on the part of the property owner or renter. If you’re looking to inject a splash of elegance to your home, one of these lamps could be just the way to do it.

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