Apart from the glow of an open fire, there can be few features in a room more hypnotic and soothing than a lava or Astro lamp.
There is a huge range of colours and designs on offer to suit all interior designs but all produce a soft glow and feature the moving blobs of constantly changing wax. It’s like watching the moving clouds on a summer’s day, but inside your own home.
Since they were invented by Edward Craven-Walker, a British accountant, in 1963 lava lamps have found themselves homes across the globe, in everything from student digs to executive officers. Their soothing glow can relax the senses just before sleeping or to help clear the mind and open up the channels of thought in a busy work environment, not to mention their benefits as a quirky design feature.
Many children choose to use them as nightlights in their bedrooms, allowing the gentle movement and soft glow to soothe them back to sleep if they wake up in the dark. Downstairs, meanwhile, mums and dads can create the perfect relaxing or romantic atmosphere using a stylish lamp.
Just make sure to switch on your lava lamps a little while before you need them to work. It normally takes around 45 minutes to an hour in standard room temperatures for the wax to heat up and start moving around. In a particularly cold environment, this can take a few hours.
Don’t be tempted to shake the lamps and try not to knock them over. This can cause the fluids to emulsify, leaving the fluid around the wax looking cloudy. If this does happen, however, just turn them off and wait for them to cool and for the wax to come together again at the bottom. You will sometimes need to heat your lamp up and cool it down several times before all of the wax combines again, leaving the surrounding fluid clear.
Craven-Walker was inspired to create the lamps after he saw a home-made egg timer created using a cocktail shaker filled with liquid bubbling on top of a pub stove. He went on to sell the marketing and manufacturing rights in America. His company continues to produce the lamps and other products at his original factory, based in Poole in Dorset.