Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate


I am a new member, I just joined today. I am the original owner of a 1978 Carlisle, received it as a Christmas gift when I was a child. My wife found it in the basement, it hadn't been used in 20 years. After replacing the bulb, the lamp still works.

However, the lava doesn't flow as well as it did decades ago. For the most part, the lava just forms a tall column reaching from the bottom all the way to the top. The wax mostly just pulses and flows up and down through the column. It rarely breaks into globs or other structures as it once did. There also appear to be a few bubbles in the wax that remain at the top of the column.

Over the years, about one inch of fluid has gradually been lost to evaporation. I added about 1/4 inch of distilled water to the lamp. It didn't have any noticeable effect. I have been reading on this site, and have proactively purchased some SLES and polyethylene glycol 200. I plan to use the PEG and distilled water to restore the fluid to the original level and balance the density.

Should I try to add some SLES to help the wax break into globs? Or should I run the lamp for a few weeks to see if the flow improves on its own?



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Claud J would be a good source to answer this question, but in short yes.  The more SURF you use the more globs, but if you use too much you will get a mess of little blobs.  Add about a teaspoon at a time while the lamp is flowing and wait a good 30mins before adding more. I have also attached a guide to help you that was provided to me by Claud.  I hope he doesn't mind me sharing it haha  Please let me know if this helps!  REFURBISHING%20A%20GLOBE.pdf


I almost always advise to run the lamp daily for a week or so and see how it responds.  I would also say in this case that sometimes the column flow is because the lamp just isn't getting warm enough.  It may bee in a cool room (ambient temp should be 70 to 74 degrees F.), or it may be in the draft from a fan or a cooling vent. If so just changing the location of the lamp will help.


Thanks for the information. The lamp is getting plenty warm, the ambient temperature in the upstairs bedroom has been 80+ degrees recently. And it has a fresh 40S11 bulb installed.

I will run the lamp for a week or two before I add anything. On last nights run, the vertical column would occasionally break up into globs, and then quickly return to the throbbing column structure.

Jay Goo, the information you sent me from Claud says to use propylene glycol (PG). Other information I have seen says to use polyethylene glycol (PEG). Both have higher density than water, so either would work to increase the density of the liquid. Any idea which is most likely to be in a 1978 Carlisle? I purchased PEG 200 from eBay, but I could buy propylene glycol if it would be better.



You can buy PG by the gallon in feed stores, it is used in cows to correct ketosis in cows.  That is where I get mine anyway.

Check it out. Just another resource and Welcome to the mad house!

Most likely it's due to a bare spot on your coil. Liquid bubbles shoot up from the spot pulling wax up with it, keeping the column from breaking. Put a bright light behind the bottle and you probably can see the bubbles flowing up the column. 

Thanks BamaMatt, I will take a look at the coil. What causes a bare spot on the coil? Is it a gap in the coil, or just a spot where the wax refuses to stick for some reason? How do I fix this?

Currently the lamp is cold. I can see the coil has a silver crimp piece about 1/4" long that joins the two ends of the coil together. Is this the likely problem spot?



It's a spot where the wax doesn't stick. Some people have had luck running with a dimmer set low enough that the wax stays melted but doesn't actually rise up. Occasionally lift off the base, place it on a flat surface, and gently spin the bottle. This will hopefully coat the coil. Some people recommend running the lamp for 24 hours or more on low power like this but you risk overheating if your not careful. 

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