Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I've recently re-filled a 2-year-old Astro with new water, following precise instructions on how to get it done. I've been happy with the results during the first two days.

But on the 3rd day the wax just stopped moving and stayed on the bottom forming a balloon-like shape that just won't rise, even when it's been turned on for 6 hours. So I figured the water wasn't heavy enough, therefore I need to make it more dense by adding epsom salts into the water.

So I dissolved some epsom salts in a beaker until the solution was saturated. Then I took an eyedropper and put in two drops of the salt solution into the lamp. The moment the drops fell in the wax started to rise like crazy. BUT it also became very, very bubbly.

I haven't read anything on the internet about epsom salts causing bubbly wax. Perhaps I did something wrong during the re-filling process. Perhaps there were unknown impurities in the water that caused it.

So I drained the lamp again, cleaned the inside of the globe by filling it halfway with ice-cold water and gently twirling it, draining it again, and filling it with distilled water. Finally I added the same amount of purple coloring into the lamp, and same amount of surfactant.

Same story again. It ran fine for two days. Then on the third day the wax stopped rising. I add in 1 drop of epsom salt solution, then another, until the wax started to rise. But it became bubbly again. So now I'm quite convinced that epsom salts causes the bubbles of water to form inside the wax.

Another side-effect of epsom salts is that it fogs up the water. There is even some light wispy stuff that seemed to have formed from the salts which settled out of the solution, now floating in the water. They're very unappealing and they ruin the aesthetics of the lamp.

I don't know who first came up with the idea. But adding epsom salts is BAD for a lava lamp :D

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When you experienced the "doming" of your wax, before adding Epsom salts, what was the temperature of your room the lamp was in? 

I've used it only in an emergency

it ALWAYS seems to cloud and eventually deteriorates the lava and sometimes coats the inside of the bottle with a white haze

propylene glycol is my preferred fluid to adjusthe t specific gravity

@ $20USD per gallon

I don't have a thermometer inside the house. But the average indoor temperature where I live is around 27-30 degrees C (81-86 deg. F)

Soylent Green said:

When you experienced the "doming" of your wax, before adding Epsom salts, what was the temperature of your room the lamp was in? 


Yup, I started using Propylene glycol and it causes none of the problems I've had with epsom salts.

Claude J said:

I've used it only in an emergency

it ALWAYS seems to cloud and eventually deteriorates the lava and sometimes coats the inside of the bottle with a white haze

propylene glycol is my preferred fluid to adjusthe t specific gravity

@ $20USD per gallon

I've had replacement master fluid in my Aristocrat for 2 years, using the epsom salt + dish soap recipe and it still flows beautifully, it is a bit bubbly but it was like that when I got it so not a big deal. Don't know if Mathmos wax reacts differently or something, but I have heard of people using this recipe in Mathmos lamps and it worked fine for them. 

It is probably the chemical makeup of mathmos 

everybody has their own preferences

PG specific gravity is 1036, and my lava lamp original fluid is more than 1033, so, to renew all fluid my lava lamp need to run on 80%PG and 20% DI water, am I correct?

I dont know the exact original specific gravity just because my meter only goes to 1033.

Does epsom salt corrode the coil?



Claude J said:

It is probably the chemical makeup of mathmos 

everybody has their own preferences

Ive topped up the fluid of my Lava Lites with PG and somewhere between 70/30 and 80/20 works well. If you want the wax to stay in the column phase longer then add a tad more distilled water.  



teltras said:

PG specific gravity is 1036, and my lava lamp original fluid is more than 1033, so, to renew all fluid my lava lamp need to run on 80%PG and 20% DI water, am I correct?

I dont know the exact original specific gravity just because my meter only goes to 1033.

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