Lava Lamps vs Mathmos: What You Should Know

Lava Lamps vs Mathmos What You Should Know

The Mathmos is a predecessor to the present-day lava lamp. This lamp has a startup time of close to a couple of hours. The lava used in the Mathmos is composed of a distinct formula in order to produce a clear liquid and interesting lava shapes.

The light source generates just the right amount of heat for the lava to melt and become less dense than the liquid around it. The lamp has an average lifespan of 2,000 hours.

A lava lamp was designed based on inspiration drawn from an egg timer found in a pub. It primarily consists of colored wax and a colored oily liquid. The standard design for the lamp is an hourglass. Like the Mathmos, the wax melts and moves up because of the heat produced from the light source.

When you assemble the lamps, you must make sure that they rest firmly on their bases so that they work as expected. Here we present you with a comparative study of the features of both lamps. This will help you decide which lamp best meets your needs.

Lava Lamps vs Mathmos

Choice of the light source

A typical Mathmos uses a halogen bulb as its light source. On the other hand, a lava lamp features an incandescent bulb. In both cases, the actual wattage of the bulb used depends on the size and design of the lamp.

Although LED bulbs are energy-efficient, they cannot be used in Mathmos and lava lamps. This is because they do not generate sufficient heat. The heat generated by these bulbs is not enough to melt the wax that forms the blobs to render the visual appeal that is offered by these bulbs.

Warmup time

A Mathmos takes about one to three hours to warm up. However, a lava lamp usually warms up in an hour to an hour and a half. The exact warmup time in both cases is dependent on the surrounding temperature as well as the size of the lamp. Also, new bottles take a longer time to warm up than older ones.

Over a period of time and repeated usage, the warmup time of both the lamps reduces considerably. As a result, they will also start turning ON faster than in the initial stages. The lamps start rendering their best performances after four to five uses.

Where to place the lamps

Since the working principle of the Mathmos and the lava lamp are identical, they feature the same type of positioning as well. Ideally, the best position is an area where the lamps will be undisturbed but can be viewed easily.

It is recommended that you do not place them on carpets. Also, avoid keeping the lamps in an extremely hot or cold room. If the room is extremely cold, the lamps’ operation will slow down or it may freeze. Too hot rooms may trigger overheating of the lamps.

Ideally, the lamps should be placed in an area that is not directly affected by sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause the colored liquid to fade and make the lamps lose their visual appeal. The lamps should also be positioned in a spot such that the ventilation spaces under them are not blocked.

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When you want to move any of the lamps from one place to another, make sure that it is turned OFF and completely cool before moving. Shaking or moving the lamps when they are ON or warm may cause clouding that cannot be cleared.

If the above precautionary measures are followed carefully, your lamps can last for many years and render trouble-free operation for years.

How to clean the lamps

The Mathmos and lava lamps share a common cleaning process. They just require some cleaning and basic maintenance using easily available cleaning agents. Remember to clean the lamps only when they are cool and not in use.

You can dust the lamps with a clean and soft microfiber or cloth once a week. Unplug the lamps from their wall outlets and wipe them using a damp clean cloth every month. Follow up with another wiping using a dry cloth. You must follow this step because the lamps should be completely dry before they are plugged in once again. You can add mild liquid soap to some warm water that you use for the damp cloth if the lamp has any caked stains.

Keeping the lamps ON

A Mathmos can be kept ON for about six to eight hours in a day while a lava lamp usually allows you to stretch the time limit a little more. You can keep it on for about eight to ten hours straight.

It is not recommended to keep the lamps ON the whole day so that their longevity does not get affected. Ensuring that you stick to the specified duration will give the Mathmos a lifespan of 2,000 operating hours.

The lamps must be cooled periodically so that their ingredients are at rest and retain their natural form. If you’re apprehensive of forgetting to turn them OFF, you can use timers to do this after a preset period and cool them.

Another drawback of leaving the lamps ON the whole day is that they can get overheated. Such lamps tend to explode over time.


Mathmos lamps and lava lamps are both equally mesmerizing with their excellent visual appeal. However, if you are looking for a lamp that is sturdier of the two, then a Mathmos lamp is your best bet.

This is because the metal used is of higher grade and thicker than in a normal lava lamp. The lava formulation and flow are also better in a Mathmos resulting in more vivid colors and clearer liquids.

However, if you want a lamp that turns ON relatively fast, you might think of opting for a lava lamp. As with any electrical product, you should exercise caution with these lamps and keep them out of access to children and pets.

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