Some creative uses for old bulbs

So, you’ve finally come to your senses and switched all the old, woefully inefficient, economically draining incandescent bulbs for LED lighting, well done. However, you are now left with a conundrum, since incandescent bulbs can’t be recycled what do you do with all these left over bulbs?

Well, in keeping with your new found eco- friendly status, you can unleash your creativity and recycle these bulbs in other ways as interesting pieces of art and other quirky centrepieces.

However, before you get too carried away and do something ridiculous like make a neon platypus out of smashed and re-forged glass shards, you will need to know how to hollow out a light bulb. This is a simple process and all you will need is a screwdriver, a pair of needle-nose pliers and a cloth.

First, grasp the solder at the bottom of the bulb with your pliers and twist it off. You will likely break one of the wires inside at this point, which is a good thing. Then, pull it off the bottom of the bulb, but be careful as modern bulbs have glass insulators which are very delicate and the shards can get everywhere, so use caution. You should now be able to shake the filament free, if not, use your screwdriver. Just be careful not to break the bulb.

Now comes the fiddly bit, the interiors of most modern bulbs are coated with a fine powder called kaolin. This is fairly easy to remove; the best way is to put a bit of salt in the bulb and give it a shake, this will help loosen the powder. Next, roll up your cloth or tissue and put it into the bulbs and wipe, somewhat awkwardly, around the inside.

There, you should have a nice clean bulb, now onto the fun bit.

One way of using your old, hollow bulbs is to turn them into homemade salt and pepper shakers. There’s no fixed method for these and you can either simply fill them with salt, pepper or vinegar, cork the top and then shake as liberally as you like, or, use the top from an old shaker to add a bit of finesse to the finished article.

You could also use them a mini aquarium. Though maybe too small for a goldfish, depending on the size of the bulb, it would make a great habitat for sea monkeys or sea snails. Simply fill the bulb with fish tank stones, fill with water and add wildlife, sorted.

Just because you have replaced all your old fixtures with LED light bulbs, doesn’t mean they are useless now. What other creative ideas can you think of your old bulbs?