Uses for Light Bulbs (Incandescent)

When an old fashioned lightbulb burns out, the clear or white bulb can be reused for crafts instead of being thrown away. This is a guide about uses for incandescent lightbulbs.


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6 found this helpful
September 21, 2015 Flag

plant in vase

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This is a project to recycle and reuse old lightbulbs. I've converted them into vases for my money plant. They look beautiful and are super easy to make.


13 found this helpful
October 9, 2012 Flag

This is a fun way to use a burnt out incandescent bulb that would otherwise be thrown out.

Approximate Time: 30 minutes



  1. Start with an incandescent light bulb that has been previously hollowed out. There are some excellent tutorials online showing how to do this.
  2. Take the screw and start twisting it into the threads on one side of the bulb's aluminum cap to make a small hole. Twist it back out and make another hole across from the first on the opposite side.
  3. Ad

  4. Fill the bulb carefully with your pebbles, then your dirt, and finally your moss and treasures.
  5. Use the pencil to move and push things so they are arranged to your liking.
  6. Using the holes you made in the cap of the bulb, thread your string through and tie it into a knot.

By Shawna G. from Ann Arbor, MI

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5 found this helpful
September 7, 2006 Flag

decorated light bulb

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A fun craft and garden decor idea is to take old light bulbs and paint them. Glass paint is the best option, but you can use spray paint as well.

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July 4, 2011 Flag

Clean out the inside of an old light bulb to create a clever wall vase. Yes, light bulbs are very fragile, but with care and patience they can be repurposed into an unusual art piece. Once opened and cleaned out, your new vase can hold water for fresh flowers, buttons, beads, or other small filler trinkets.

The metal screw end of the light bulb is the top when referred to in the instructions. Warning: Wear safety goggles and gloves when attempting this project.

Approximate Time: 1 hour



  1. Cover your work surface with an old bath towel. Use the side of a sharp knife to pry up the edge of the disk covering the top of the light bulb. Grasp the edge with needle-nose pliers and peel the disk off the top.

  2. There is a solid ceramic plug in the top of the bulb. That is the black top shown in the pictures. Hold the metal screw end with one hand and firmly jab the plug with the tip of the needle-nose pliers. When the plug cracks, use the pliers to grab the edges and pull out the pieces. Note: When jabbing the end with the pliers, hold the bulb above your work space, not on it. This will prevent the bulb from taking any of the impact. Do not squeeze the bulb too tightly.

  3. There is a thin glass tube just inside the opened end. Grab the tube with the pliers and twist it off and out. There will be a small puff of air, so do this step with the opening of the bulb facing down toward your towel.

  4. The next level is a finger-like glass tube. The wires and glass "insulators" are in this tube. Hold the metal end and suspend the bulb above your work surface. Poke the end of a screwdriver into the bulb and pound the seal at the top of the tube. Once broken, insert your closed needle-nose pliers into the bulb and twist around the opening to break away the remaining glass of the tube. Shake out the broken glass and wires. If the wires get stuck in the opening, grab them with the pliers and pull them out.

  5. Cut a 20-inch length of craft wire using wire cutters. Wrap the wire around the bottom edge of the metal screw end. Bring the ends together and twist to secure it to the bulb.

  6. Cut a scrap of weathered wood approximately 7 inches wide by 10 inches long using a jigsaw. The exact dimensions are not important. If you find a piece that is close in size, it can be used without the need for cutting.

  7. Lay the wood on your work surface. The side facing up will be the front. Lay the bulb on its side and center it on the board. Use a marking pen to make a dot on each side of the screw end where the wire is attached.
    Remove the bulb. Drill holes through the board at each dot using a 1/16-inch drill bit.

  8. Lay the bulb back on the board. Insert one end of the twisted wire through one hole and the other end through the remaining hole. Bring the wire ends together on the back of the board and twist to secure.

  9. Place your index finger over the twist and between the two wire ends. Bring the wire ends together above the finger and twist. Remove your finger. The loop created by your finger is the hanger for the board. Clip off the excess wire.

  10. Fill the bulb with your desired trinkets or water, add a flower and decorate with a bit of lace around the neck.

    By Cyndee from Winfield, KS

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    July 6, 20110 found this helpful

    This is very pretty! It would be a great and attractive way to root cuttings like Coleus, etc. I would have to use my oven bulbs as we use CFL''s everywhere else. Thanks so much!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
October 12, 2004 Flag

I have empty light bulbs, just normal 60W bulbs with the inside pulled out. The end is open, and I was wondering what I could do with them. Any ideas? I thought about making a candle, inside the upside-down bulb, but there's not enough oxygen that gets into it. Any ideas would be appreciated! I'm sure there's something really cool I could do with them.


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October 12, 20040 found this helpful

Come to think of it, even if they're white and not clear, you could decorate the outside and make Christmas ornaments.

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March 12, 20050 found this helpful

I remember an idea from my youth where an empty light bulb could be used for an inexpensive flask for science experiments.

I also made a small terrarium from one back then.


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September 30, 20050 found this helpful

I am curious how you got the metal end off of the bulb without breaking the glass, and, more important, why. I have a couple dozen used light bulbs, I am looking for craft ideas of things to make with the bulbs. I am wondering if hot glue from a glue gun will make the bulb explode.

FL29erod @

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March 13, 20070 found this helpful

my aunt made me a doll back in the 70's with a light bulb & a glass coca-cola/soda bottle (the type of doll you'd display only). the bulb was the head with a painted face & glued on yarn hair -- the body was the bottle which she also painted & dressed with fabric scraps. she attached the 2 with glue -- I was a Raggedy Ann fan, so she looked liked Raggedy.

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March 20, 20070 found this helpful

what can i do with a light bulb

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September 1, 20070 found this helpful

This sounds a bit like when I was six years old. At school we made Christmas tree decorations that were supposed to be filled with candy. We were told to use colourful paper and fold and cut it in a special way, and then wrap it around an empty toilet paper roll. Us kids didn't react, but my mother threw the disgusting thing away!

There are some things that should be recycled rather than reused.

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March 9, 20080 found this helpful

How did you get the bulb empty I want to make a flower pot with it.

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June 14, 20080 found this helpful

To answer a question many of you asked, you can use a small craft saw to carefully saw off the bottom off the metal screw end. Just be sure not to saw it at an angle, and be sure do it at the end, just above the 'point'. If you do this correctly you will not break the vacuum in the bulb. There are two very thin wires that need to be broken, a simple twist of the cap will do that for you. I was lucky and was able to break the glass cleanly within the metal screw, so it was hidden. Then I carefully chipped away so of the excess glass and coated the sharp edge with a layer of hot-glue. Worked like a charm, now I can't cut myself!

Also, another tip: If you DO have a white bulb, do not worry, once you have broken the seal of the bulb and removed the glowing filament, run some water into the bulb, the white removes almost instantly! Now you have a clean clear bulb to craft into something creative.

Pics here:

http://www.flic  pl3k/2578200168/

http://www.flic  pl3k/2578200082/

Hope you find this helpful!

-Jonathan Lombardo (JPL3k)

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