Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hi! Recently I found a great vintage Lava Lite Century model, dated 1974. It has blue liquid with yellow wax and one serious flaw—all of the wax floats to the top and stays there. I know several lamps have the issue where some floats and some stays at the bottom, this one has zero wax at the bottom. The liquid is not cloudy at all, in fact it is clearer than any of my other vintage lamps. The wax was floating when I purchased it with kind of a disgusting granular looking appearance (but it was in one blob). Curious if there's any hope for restoration or if the wax is just shot?

Things I have tried:

  1. Melt the wax with a hair dryer. This improved the appearance and texture of the wax 100%. But it just stayed at the top.
  2. Cycling the lamp. I left it on for 8 hours or so until all of the wax liquified. But it stayed in place at the top.
  3. Super Cooling. After cycling the lamp I popped it in the fridge. The liquid became even clearer than it initially was, but the wax just floats. I even tried turning it upside down (gently) to cool, but the cooled wax just floats back up when turned over.

My theory is whatever modifies the wax's density has completely separated from the wax into the liquid, but I'm curious if anyone thinks boiling the wax with the liquid removed would help? Or is she just past her prime?

Thanks for any help!

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Here are some pics of the lamp. This is after it was cooled upside down, so the wax isn't at the top because it's lodged in the middle by the shape of the jar.

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If you wax stays at the top then the master fluid is too heavy displacing the wax.  Too much salt, PG, whatever in the water.  Unless this is reduced weakened a bit, that wax will not come down.

None of those photos look like the wax is even melting

Try wrapping a towelk around it and let it run a few hours

I agree with Magoo, you may have to take out some of the fluid and displace it with distilled water so the specific gravity changes and the wax will drop

but try getting it to melt first, It could just be a bubble in the wax making it float

The wax isn't melted in the photo, I just switched it on quickly for the pic. I've melted the wax multiple times, both by heating with the bulb and accelerating it via hair dryer. The wax floats both when it is in fully melted and solid states. Guess it's time to crack her open. I'm a little curious if it has been tampered with in the past because the jar is full all the way to the top. My other vintage lamps have a fluid level well below the top cap.

Claude J said:

None of those photos look like the wax is even melting

Try wrapping a towelk around it and let it run a few hours

I agree with Magoo, you may have to take out some of the fluid and displace it with distilled water so the specific gravity changes and the wax will drop

but try getting it to melt first, It could just be a bubble in the wax making it float

Do you think replacing some of the original fluid with distilled water would help or should I add something else? To my knowledge the fluid is the original from 1974.

Mr MaGoo said:

If you wax stays at the top then the master fluid is too heavy displacing the wax.  Too much salt, PG, whatever in the water.  Unless this is reduced weakened a bit, that wax will not come down.

Yes, it sounds like someone was tampering with the master fluid if the level is high.

Just take some water out (@2") and slowly add some distilled water (letting it reach temp before adding more) to see if you can reduce the density of the fluid.

If it still floats once it reached 125D F,. repeat the process until you get the desired results..


Chances are,.. someone used salt to adjust the density and it doesn't take much to overdo it.

I always use propylene glycol so the corrosiveness of salt content is not an issue

Any update on this lamp?

Still no update I guess.

I haven't had a chance to tackle it yet, I've had a very busy few weeks. With the weather turning cold, I should be able to focus on projects like this soon!

Mr MaGoo said:

Still no update I guess.

Sweet bro, no rush, understand the crazy schedules.  Just keep us in the loop, as we all like to celebrate successes.

MaGoo!

Finally got around to popping the top. Poured out some of the liquid (nasty chemical odor!) and added a few inches of distilled water. No improvement to the wax, it still looks odd gritty/chunky and all of it floats to the top. After adding the water, however, the liquid now has a distinct oil and water appearance. It's all the same color, but when the lamp is hot you can tell the liquid itself is separating into two separate densities. Not sure what is going on. I think the next step will be emptying the jar and boiling the wax to see if that produces any effect. Last resort—I bought a newer used lamp for $8 and I might just pour the new wax and fluid into the vintage bottle.

Mr MaGoo said:

Sweet bro, no rush, understand the crazy schedules.  Just keep us in the loop, as we all like to celebrate successes.

MaGoo!

Since you popped the top on the lamp, you could drop the fluid level to just above the wax at the bottom.  With the lamp open, place it back on the base and light it up.  The was should then melt, take a straw, stick something rigid and gently stir wax while in liquid state.  Then turn of let it cool down and solidify, then add distilled h2o back to top and turn it back on and see what it does.  Then we can go from there. 

MaGoo!

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