Home Design

What is a Rain Lamp? A Complete Guide

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Retro is back. With the return of retro items in modern homes, it’s only fair that we share what we know about the rain lamp. 

You may be asking what the rain lamp is. It’s not an oil lamp, or swag lamp as they’re often confused with. 

If you’re looking to collect a beautiful retro item for your home, or if you’re just curious what it is, here’s everything you need to know about the rain lamp. 

What is a Rain Lamp? 

An obscure vintage lamp is hard to find information on, so we’ve got the scoop for you. 

Rain lamps first appeared in the 1950s and were invented by Johnson Industries, sending this lamp into fame throughout the 1960s and 1970s. By the late 1970s, the popularity of the lamp had declined. 

However, these gorgeous pieces of decor should have never gone out of style.

The rain lamp is often hung from the ceiling, instead of standing alone on a desk or side table. 

These detailed antique lamps often depict the Greek goddess Aphrodite, surrounded by flowers and fauna. Other editions and styles of the lamp vary in the color and style of the Greek goddess’s depiction.

How Do They Work?

Even though it’s called a rain lamp, you actually shouldn’t use water to operate it. All you need to do is add oil to it.

Inside the lamp is a motor, which pumps a mineral oil from the top of the lamp, down fishing wire surrounding the statue, creating the illusion of rain. It is important to note that using actual water will not create this rain affect, since the water will evaporate. 

Mineral oil is the most effective oil to use in order to keep a rain lamp working effectively. Any other oil runs the risk of clogging the motor and cannot create the desired effect.

Here’s a fun article about how to clean, restore, and add oil to your vintage rain lamp. Check it out!

What Do They Do?

The rain lamp is a great purchase to spice up home decor. Besides the calming and beautiful ambiance they bring to a room, there isn’t much else that a rain lamp does. 

Since rain lamps use mineral oil, this is not a lamp to use with essential oils like essential oil diffusers that have become popular in the past decade. Mineral oil is odorless and is only used because of the rain effect it creates for the lamp.

Purchasing a Rain Lamp

Are you looking to buy a rain lamp to add to your home decor? Vintage rain lamps are difficult to come by. The most expensive rain lamp depicts a scene from the book Tom Sawyer, and is listed on eBay for $3,000.

These hidden gems might be found at garage or yard sales, but they’re not easy to find! Other vintage lamps can be found on eBay and Etsy. 

The Perfect Retro Lamp

It’s a mystery as to why these intricate lamps had a decline in popularity. However, nothing compares to these unique and beautiful lamps.  

Modern rain lamps have not continued to stay true to the original design, but still capture the eclectic and retro style of the original designs. Whatever you prefer, these rain lamps can bring a next-level look to your retro home.

If you want your home to stand out, the rain lamp is the perfect addition to your home decor. They might be difficult to come by, but they are worth the effort. 

If you’ve found this article interesting, check out our other blog posts!

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