10 Clever Uses For Burned-Out Light Bulbs

I’m slowly making the switch over to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (which last, I think, roughly 800 years), replacing each old incandescent bulb as it expires. Every time I remove an old bulb – the standard-sized ones in my overhead light fixtures, the big round globes that frame my bathroom mirror, the flat-faced extra-bright work lights, etc. – I stuff them into the back of my closet. I can’t throw them away. I just know I’ll want them back some day!

Light bulbs are really pretty; iconic and curvaceous and aesthetically pleasing, I think. I knew I wanted to do some sort of project with my old burned-out bulbs, and so recently I went looking for inspiration. Here’s all the cool stuff I found:

1. Use a bulb as a bud vase. Remove the metal screw ring and the interior, fill with water, and add a flower. To get it to stand up, you just need a little round something to act as a base – the right sized jar lid, plastic cap, etc. The New York City handymen over at Apartment Therapy show you how.

2. You can also create hanging vases, by stripping the bulb as described above, filling it with water and a flower, and then suspending it by fishing line or wire.  These look adorable hanging all in a row, in a windowsill or even over a table.

3. Are you familiar with air plants? They’re these amazing little organisms that seem to be quite popular these days, and they can survive without being planted. They just hang out and sit on whatever surface they’re placed on, and they look super cool suspended in hanging vases (as described above).

4. If you wrap standard brown twine around a standard-shaped light bulb, and then add a little stick at the tippy top, it looks just like a rustic pear. An adorable, artistic centerpiece.

5. Here’s a timely tip: Old light bulb. Spray glue. Doused in glitter. BOOM. Christmas ornament. This would be a fun family craft for Christmas Eve.

6. You can turn a bigger bulb into a teeny tiny tabletop terrarium. Just remove the metal screw ring and insides, then fill the bulb with moss, pebbles, and mini pinecones. Or make a beach-y version with sand and little sea shells.

7. It’s very easy to turn a light bulb into an oil lamp. The Internet is full of tutorials (so don’t bug your local electrician to teach you how, OK?).

8. Dude, you can make a “ship in a bott- er, light bulb”! Love this.

9. If you have a bunch of matching bulbs, you can use them in the kitchen. Carefully remove the metal screw ring and the insides, but hold onto the screw ring – that will be your “cap”. Now, thoroughly wash and dry the bulbs. Then you can fill them with all your bulk-bought spices for display. “Cap” them and keep them in a pretty plastic (or ceramic) egg holder.

10. Or, you could turn them into salt and pepper shakers, like this guy did.

Got any other fun ideas for using old light bulbs? Please share in the comments below!

By Sayward Rebhal, Networx

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Val M.
Val M.1 years ago

I don't think I'd do the oil lamp, but otherwise great ideas - thanks!

Tanya Selth
Tanya Selth1 years ago

I love that xmas decoration idea.

Im annoyed with myself now as I threw away a rare old style globe (we havent had those in a long time where I am) which had been handpainted (I was using it as a light like that till it blew). I never thought of keeping and using it for xmas decoration, it would of been perfect already for that.

Marcia Lawton Schlichting

I have been using a burned out light bulb to help in darning socks. Works great!

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Thanks, but I don´t use these anymore!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

I hand paint mine into really unique beautiful christmas ornaments. they sell well

Nancy Hatcher
Nancy Hatcher2 years ago

Some of these ideas are dangerous! Light bulbs are really fragile and there is no way I would use one as an oil lamp! The least little knock and my house could go up in flames.

The ONLY way I would ever even consider one of these ideas would be to coat the inside with a resin such as ICE or other's available from craft store.

Care2 - PLEASE use some common sense when you promote ideas like this. Seems to me you could leave yourselves open to some legal problems!

Nancy Hatcher
Nancy Hatcher2 years ago

The only way I can see any of these ideas holding up would be to pour a clear resin - ICE or others available through craft companies - to strengthen them. Light bulbs by themselves would be too fragile for my clumsy household.

Anna Ballinger
Anna Ballinger2 years ago

Some great ideas. Thank you for sharing.

Dee Williams
Dee Williams2 years ago

Really cool ideas. I will have to try some of these.

katarzyna phillips

interesting ideas! over here in the uk, the 'old' lightbulbs you're referring to have been out of fashion for around 10+ years and so are more difficult to find. and when you do find them, they're all able to use so it's not really worth the effort to destroy them [not including the environmental impact such waste allows-it's taken energy to make them] and the 'new' lightbulbs have coils in them, so it's even more difficult to find a use for them!