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.

Uses for Light Bulbs (Incandescent), A recycled vanity lightbulb with a snowman face painted on it.
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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.

plant in vase

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Terrarium hanging, with a closeup.This is a fun way to use a burnt out incandescent bulb that would otherwise be thrown out.

Approximate Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 hollowed out incandescent bulb
  • moss, dirt, pebbles, or any fun findings from outside
  • a pencil or other long, narrow tool
  • a screw
  • string or thread


  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. Fill the bulb carefully with your pebbles, then your dirt, and finally your moss and treasures.
  4. Use the pencil to move and push things so they are arranged to your liking.
  5. 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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decorated light bulbA 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. Once painted in a design or color of your choice take a high gage wire, I use 20 gauge copper, and wrap around the base. You can wrap some around the bulb as well, if wanted. Then you can hot glue glass stones or little trinkets on the wire. Attach to your average garden stake with wire and a bit of hot glue and plant! decorated light bulb I make mine with wire leaves to look like flowers and even bugs. Its really just what ever you want. Beware of children though or you may have one trying to smell your table lamps!

Editor's Note: Brandy added a very small photo to her reply in the feedback section. This is the best we could do to enlarge it a bit.

By Cookwie from Little Rock, AR

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finished bulb filled with beadsClean 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. finished bulb filled with beads

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


  • safety goggles
  • gloves
  • old bath towel
  • sharp knife
  • needle-nose pliers
  • screwdriver
  • craft wire
  • ruler
  • wire cutters
  • weathered wood scrap
  • jigsaw
  • marking pen
  • drill and 1/16-inch drill bit
  • decorative embellishments


  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. light bulb lying on towel

  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. shattered pieces of ceramic plug after removal

  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. glass tube removed from bulb, lying on towel work surface

  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. bits of ceramic plug, glass tube, wires, and insulators on towel

  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. craft wire wrapped around the screw end of 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. weathered wood scrap

  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. marking placement of the bulb 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. wire pulled to back side of board

  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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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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About the lightbulbs, I just saw them hanging upside down with flowers in them. Maybe you could also root plants in them too, hanging from limbs in the trees. Don't know about making candles, hopefully someone does for that sounds cool.

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Better Living Green Living ReusingNovember 17, 2011
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