Why Do Bubble Lights Stop Bubbling?


Bubble lights are a festive Christmas decoration that combines an effervescent bubble effect to a colored light. Introduced in the U.S. in 1946 by Norma, these lights remain a popular way to add a bit of extra ornamentation to a Christmas tree or other Christmas display. For various reasons, a bubble light may stop bubbling, so you may need to troubleshoot.


  • Bubble lights are filled with methlyene chloride, or a lightweight oil with a very low boiling point. The heat from the bulb causes the liquid to boil, which gives it the bubbling effect. Bubble lights consist of a bulb, where the liquid is held and a cap, which also includes the light and shaft.

Warming Up

  • One of the most common reasons a bubble light may fail to bubble is because it is simply too cool. Allow your bubble light to stay lit for several minutes to warm up. If used outdoors, the air temperature may be too cold to allow the liquid to reach the boiling point. If this is the case, you will not be able to get the light to bubble until the weather warms. For most lights, a temperature above 65 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Allow lights to warm up for about five minutes.

Mixing the Fluid

  • Occasionally, the fluid inside the bulb may separate, which impedes the boiling process. This typically happens after the light has been kept in storage for a long period of time. Gently shake the light or tap the bulb to mix the fluid--it should resume bubbling after it warms up.

Replace the Light or Fuse

  • If the light does not turn on, the bubbling action will not occur. Replace the light or fuse using the instructions included with your light set. The procedure may vary depending on your manufacturer.


  • Be careful not to break the bulb. Methylene chloride is toxic if swallowed and can irritate the eyes and skin. Keep bulbs away from heaters, fireplaces, ovens and other sources of heat. Do not leave lights up for longer than 90 days.


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