I apologize in advance, I'm sure this is a noob question.
I bought a couple vintage lava lamps on eBay last month. The seller described them as good condition, but the white wax is burned, light brown in color. Looks ugly, especially under the blue fluid. I've read a few hints on how to fix this and looked at the Goo Kits. I'm wondering if maybe there's a way to preserve the wax and just dye it a dark color, like black. I guess I'm wondering more specifically if anyone has ever fixed burned wax this way and has some hints on how to accomplish this. Or if it's a waste of time and I should just replace the wax with a Goo Kit. Or if there's any better ideas as to how I can make these look cool again.
One of the lamps is black, the other is white. Both have blue liquid and what used to be white wax. I'm sort of imagining what they both would look like with clear liquid and the white one with white wax, the black one with black wax. Or vice versa. Anyway, I'm also looking for an easy solution, any thoughts are welcome.
Hmmm, the burned wax could be tricky. If it flows well would be best to keep the wax and dye it. You could try to color the wax a matching shade of its globe fluid color and it will give it a much cleaner appearance, creating a faux white look. Keep it slightly lighter in color than the liquid color. A blue wax/blue fluid globe will take on a more pure white look as it kills the yellow influence from the bulb. Brad has a nice Mathmos example here, lamp on the left. Welcome to the forums that are OG!
Thanks for the responses.
Yes, the wax sill flows well, I'd like to save it if possible. It's just that the color is uneven. The globs white in the center, then yellow/brown at the edges depending on where the light hits them. It's difficult to show in picture what I'm describing when the wax is flowing, but I've attached a pic of what the wax looks like when it's cold, it's light brown in color.
Do you think if I just dyed it black it would solve the problem? Do you think the dying process would change the composition of the wax, or might I still expect it to flow as it does now?
I'm assuming the process would be similar to replacing the wax, I'd have to:
Drain the fluid from the globe
Boil the wax out into a mason jar
Clean the spring
Dye the wax(candle dye?)
Am I thinking correctly?
Most of my white wax globes have that similar color. The warm color of the light bulb really does help to amplify that brown look as well. I would say you are in good shape, A black dye job should not really have any negative impact on the wax itself. I use liquid candle dyes as to minimize the addition of any foreign wax chips. You should be able to take it to whatever color you like with little to no impact on wax performance. Maybe someone else chime in on dyes that are not liquid though, I can't vouch for them.
Black would rid it of that uneven color, it will make it look like ink if dyed to a deep black. Your steps are a nice process if you want to tear the whole thing down for a good clean up, otherwise there is no need to drain and dump using liquid candle dyes. When I dyed my blue glo-worm lamp I simply let the wax start flowing and placed a single drop on the liquid surface. Since the dye is oil based it will stay on the surface of the liquid until the wax hits it and absorbs it in. It is a pretty cool show to watch the dye start to infiltrate the wax!
If you do tear the whole lamp down you would have a better hand at achieving the true black color you are going for, much faster. Just make sure to keep all of your original fluids intact or else you may have one helluva time trying to replicate the fluid densities again to play nice with LL formula.
If interested, here are the liquid dyes that I use. I know their blue is top notch in my goo kit lamp, no leeching. A little goes a loooong way but in the case of black, their dye should turn that wax into a Cadillac!
I have found that changing the liquid can totally change the color and appearance of the wax, and not just for lighter colored waxes. I restored a mid-60's century where the wax literally looked like oatmeal. I couldn't even tell whether it was originally supposed to be white, yellow, or orange, and it was lumpy and fried-looking as the day is long.
All I did was pour out the original liquid and replace it, and when the wax melted, it came back together again as silky smooth and beautiful...a bright orange color. I think that the surfactant breaks down over time, and makes the surface of the wax look wrinkly and dark. Adding new liquid with new surfactant can make the wax look brand new again.
However, if your lamp is looking brown even when it's flowing completely, and it's flowing really well, then it may be due to a rusty coil or coil connection. In that case, I think you might be better off dying the wax.
In my experience dark wax in a dark liquid makes is hard to see inside the globe. I don't think you would be happy with black wax. There are a couple of different courses you could take, one is to dye the wax a light color; such as yellow, pink, light blue, etc. The other is to dye the wax whatever color you want and "sun fade" the globe. This is done by placing the globe in a window where it receives sunlight for most of the day. The blue liquid will fade, it may take a few weeks in the winter, much less in summer. But keep an eye on it so you don't fade it too much, unless you want to fade it to clear. Then you can dye the wax as dark as you like. :)
Yellow wax in blue liquid is a common Lava Lite color, the flow looks green.
Thank you all for so much excellent advice. After thinking about these lamps the path I think I'd like to take is to do clear liquid in both and one with white wax, the other with black wax. I have one black base and another white base, so that might be cool.Yin & Yang, sort of. Keith, your suggestion about letting the sun clear the blue liquid is super helpful, that hadn't occurred to me. I guess I can dye one wax glob black, for the other I'll probably have to make fresh white wax.
Again, you all are very helpful. I have a few ideas to work with, I think I'll make this into a restoration project with my kids. I bought these vintage lamps as a gift for them, but the wax was so bad I ended up buying a new Lava brand one from Amazon. We'll have fun seeing how this works out.