Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Lets figure out the original lava lite formula..I have a good start

Through my struggles to revive my consort lamp I have discovered a few interesting things. The reason why most people dont get their consorts running is because the formula they are using simply wont work. The liquid used in consorts is only slightly more dense than water. Waters density is 1,000 kg/m3 while a consorts fluid is slightly denser.

Heres a handy chart to give you an idea of how dense things are.

http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/liquids-densities-d_743.html

 

I have been measuring the densities of various lava lamp liquids. The only thing I have right now is a alcohol hydrometer so I have to convert brix to kg/m3. Sadly I dropped it yesterday and it broke so I have to buy a new one today.

http://www.tlarson.com/units/?from=brix&to=kg%2Fm3

 

What I have found out is that the consort is only slightly more dense than water. The china lamps made by lava lite a year ago have the same density. The 32oz and 52oz lamps we all love ranging from the early 70's to 2003 all have a density of 1,0381 kg/m3.

 

So we have the densities... now how about the formula? I tried refilling my consort with distilled water along with a little bit of surfactant and a few drops from another lava lamp. For some reason it would not melt properly and it liked to "freeze" mid blob so obviously my fluid is lacking something vital. So now I am on a quest to remade the original formula. I happen to have some info from my big post that is a compilation of information I have gathered from other people.

 

"

The lava lamp was found to contain water, 38% by mass; chlorinated paraffin, 36%; low molecular weight polyethylene glycol, 13%; kerosene 7%; and microcrystalline wax, 6%.

http://oozinggoo.ning.com/forum/topics/lava-reverse-engineering

 

Lava lamps flow optimally at 45-50 C.

The wax contains paraffin wax, a mineral oil such as ondina 17, carbon tetrachloride, and petroleum jelly.

The liquid contains glycerol ethylene, glycol, polyethylene glycol or propylene glycol(30% of total volume).

"

 

For the wax we can assume that the majority of the mix is paraffin wax. *edit* It turns out "paraffin" is actually kerosene in the UK which is where the patents were written. So I think that paraffin wax may not be the wax base. *edit* Petroleum jelly is used to make the paraffin wax more liquidy. I am assuming that the carbon tetrachloride is used to weigh the wax down. It has a gravity of 1,584kg/m3. I do not know the density of the paraffin wax so does anybody have a way to test this?

Mineral oil is liquid paraffin wax..

From wikipedia about the microcrystalline wax.

"It is generally darker, more viscous, denser, tackier and more elastic than paraffin waxes, and has a higher molecular weight and melting point."

So microcrystalline wax is used is used to make the paraffin wax stretchier as well as increase the melting point.

 

??% Paraffin wax900 @kg/m3 : Melting Point: 117°F to 147°F

??% mineral oil @920 kg/m3 : Melting Point: 

or ??% petroleum jelly 810-880 kg/m3 : Melting Point:    -might be the same thing

??% carbon tetrachloride @ 1587kg/m3 : Melting Point: 73.22°F 

??% kerosene "paraffin"

 

Not sure if this is in the wax.

??% microcrystalline wax @ 960 kg/m3 : Melting Point: 170°F-180°F 

 

The liquid will probably be rather easy to figure out. The analysis from the guy who drank his lava lamp shows that the liquid contained water, 38% by mass; chlorinated paraffin, 36%; low molecular weight polyethylene glycol, 13%; kerosene 7%; and microcrystalline wax, 6%. I am assuming he must have drank it while warm if he had wax in him, but I might be wrong.

 

30% water @ 1,000 kg/m3 

35% chlorinated paraffin@ ??? kg/m3  Not water soluble.

13% polyethylene glycol @ 965.3 kg/m3 

7% kerosene @ 820.1 kg/m3 Not water soluble.

6% microcrystalline wax @ ??? kg/m3 Not water soluble.

 


Going by the patents suggests

70% water 1,000 kg/m3

30% glycerol ethylene @ ???? kg/m3

or

30% glycol @ ???? kg/m3

or

30% polyethylene glycol @  kg/m3

or

30% propylene glycol @  1,036 kg/m3

The patent says "preferably propylene glycol"

So it looks like the original formula is just 70% water and 30% propylene glycol.

 

This is about the extent of my knowledge. I am hoping someone here can pick up where I left off and point out any errors I made in my reasoning.

I am attaching the patent files for reference.

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*grabs popcorn and waits patiently*

 

NOM NOM. Great start Autumn. If anyone can figure this out, you can.


I went to a local chemical store today. The owner wasnt a chemist... just a guy that sold chemicals so his knowledge was limited. But what I found out was pretty interesting.

Polyethylene glycol is known as peg to people in the industry. It also comes in a powder form at different densities.

Carbon tetrachloride is also known as tetrachloromethane and perchloromethane. 

He said that anything on www.spectrumchemical.com he can order for me if they wont sell to me or if the cost is too high because of large quantities, but the stuff that he wont be able to turn over quickly he will have to charge me more than what they are asking.

Kerosene can be bought at a hardware store.

Petroleum jelly is just vaseline.

 

He also had a very informative book. I think it was a chemical dictionary. It didnt have all of the chemicals listed above, but he let me take photos of the chemicals I was able to find.

Paraffin wax has a density of around 0.9 g/cm3
Just wanted to note this here as well in the main post. I just realized "paraffin" in the UK is kerosene. That means that the main base for the wax might be microcrysalline wax and not paraffin wax.

Oh and something I just thought of... Instead of using salt to increase the density of their custom lamps they can use propylene glycol. Its colorless, it doesnt cloud, and it mixes with water instantly. A 50% propylene glycol and 50% distilled water has the exact same density of most usa lamps. This explains why Scott and Goo Geek found fog machine liquid to work with his lava lamp.

http://oozinggoo.ning.com/forum/topics/possible-clear-fluid

http://oozinggoo.ning.com/forum/topics/china-redclear-redo?commentI...

The nice thing with using pure propylene glycol and distilled water is that you can control your own densities without having to worry about the mixture of fog machine liquid.

Oh and you will have to use a very small drop of surfactant. I used half a ml of goo kit surfactant. The guy explained how combining surfactant with propylene glycol create a LOT of bubbles so be careful not to add too much.

 

Here is some information about polyethylene glycol. You can get several densities of this stuff and from PEG 200 to PEG 600 it is a clear liquid. From Peg 630 to 1500 it is a paste. Anything above that is wax like. 

 

http://chemicalland21.com/industrialchem/organic/POLYETHYLENE%20GLY...

This site lists all of the densities for several types of PEG.

Okay i think we have a problem. Like I said paraffin wax's density is 0.9. Well it is wrong. It ranges from 0.82-0.96 (found here http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_specific_gravity_of_paraffin_wax). The density of water is 1 and polyethylene's lowest is 1.08. This means the wax will float to the top of the globe and never come down. How do i know this? I put candle wax (paraffin wax) in a 52 oz globe and distilled water in. Heated it up and all the wax floated to the top and is now stuck there to this day.
I believe carbon tetrachloride is what weighs down the wax. CTC is not soluble in water so I don't see what else it could be used for.


Kempton said:
Okay i think we have a problem. Like I said paraffin wax's density is 0.9. Well it is wrong. It ranges from 0.82-0.96 (found here http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_specific_gravity_of_paraffin_wax). The density of water is 1 and polyethylene's lowest is 1.08. This means the wax will float to the top of the globe and never come down. How do i know this? I put candle wax (paraffin wax) in a 52 oz globe and distilled water in. Heated it up and all the wax floated to the top and is now stuck there to this day.

okay that explains a lot. It is in lava lamps according to Wikipedia.

       EDIT: This chemical seems very unsafe, it can cause liver damage, kidney damage, and cancer. Maybe we could find a safer chemical.

This probly wont help much as the text already sais it somewhere, but with 30% propylene glycol and distilled water I made working fluid but there has to be a bit of surfactant in it to flow properly. the more surfactant the stringier the flow, with no surfactant its just round blobs and it will stick easily. Also the masterfluid for vintage crestworth lamps is only distilled water and surfactant.

There is an apparently lesser known Crestworth patent, applied for in 1965, no.1,168,625, entitled "Improvements in and relating to Compositions for use in Display devices which Employ Liquid Components", http://v3.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?CC=GB&a.... This seems to have abandoned the Carbon tetrachloride/mineral oil composition, and instead gives very specific details of a formula including a Chlorinated Diphenyl or Polychlorinated Diphenyl - An "Arochlor" product is mentioned. These are quite nasty chemicals, and have been out of production for some years (late 1970's), by international agreement. I also have a Crestworth Astro from the early 1980's with a sticker on the top which states "The contents of this vase are harmless, basically water, also some paraffin and chlorinated paraffin wax". (This would have been made around the time of the safety scare caused by dodgy glitters, and all liquid filled lamps were being viewed with suspicion at this time).


Hmm well that pretty much tells you exactly whats in the wax. I have a feeling they went back to something like propylene glycol in the liquid due to how toxic aroclor is. They also probably changed the wax formula and removed the aroclor and replaced it with something else. This gets us several steps closer! We need to find more patents.

stevemo said:

There is an apparently lesser known Crestworth patent, applied for in 1965, no.1,168,625, entitled "Improvements in and relating to Compositions for use in Display devices which Employ Liquid Components", http://v3.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?CC=GB&a.... This seems to have abandoned the Carbon tetrachloride/mineral oil composition, and instead gives very specific details of a formula including a Chlorinated Diphenyl or Polychlorinated Diphenyl - An "Arochlor" product is mentioned. These are quite nasty chemicals, and have been out of production for some years (late 1970's), by international agreement. I also have a Crestworth Astro from the early 1980's with a sticker on the top which states "The contents of this vase are harmless, basically water, also some paraffin and chlorinated paraffin wax". (This would have been made around the time of the safety scare caused by dodgy glitters, and all liquid filled lamps were being viewed with suspicion at this time).

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