Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Question regarding Basic Retro lamp formula with Perc.

Hello.  A question to anyone who can shed some light on this.  I have been trying to make my first lamp using the Basic Retro lamp formula.  After several days of tinkering I finally got it to work,... for a while.  After the second time I ran it, (never for more than a few hours) it stopped flowing altogether.  Reading many of the posts I came upon one which sounded authoritative that stated outright that PERC lamps will only work for a days or two.  Is that the case?  Have others managed to get permanent or stable lamps using this formula?  Could my problem have to do with the airtightness of the bottle?

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no just abandon your method and buy gookit

I don't post often, but your problems with the retro formula are similar to my early attempts.

I have had great success making my own mix using Gulfwax, with about 6% Multiwax W445 microcrystalline wax, and about 10% lamp oil (kerosene), and enough PERC to make it flow right.

The microcrystalline wax provides a stretchy effect and the lamp oil decreases the melting point of the mix and is a mild solvent of wax as well.

It is very important to melt everything completely before adding it to the lamp as the microcrystalline wax has a substantially higher melting point than the Gulfwax.

When running the lamp the first time you will see millions of small white bits in the wax, but if you rise the temperature in the lamp to 125*F a few times the mix tends to slowly go into solution.

You can leave out the microcrystalline wax and still make a nice lamp, but I have found it adds an interesting effect if given enough time to blend into the mix.

Sealing the lamp is important, but can be done after you have everything flowing correctly.

The PERC will evaporate over time causing the wax to remain at the top.

Temperature is important and it is best to keep it steady at about 115*F max using a lamp dimmer.

I have operated homemade lamps as high as 125*F, but did not find any particular advantage in doing so as they seem to flow just as well at about 115*F using Gulfwax, lamp oil, and microcrystalline wax.

Surfactant is another important item.

I have had the best luck with the surfactant from the Goo store, but any pure anionic surfactant will work.

It is VERY important to use only anionic surfactants for long term stability.

If you use any type of surfactant that is not totally anionic (no blends) the lamp will look great for a while, but will eventually go cloudy and may start to stick to the glass.

Add surfactant a few drops at a time as adding too much seems to be counter productive.

I have made many lamps that are over a year old and still working great.

Once you have everything moving like you want then heat the lamp up to your final maximum operating temperature and then seal it hot.

By doing this you will have negative pressure when the lamp is cool and zero pressure when it is at operating temperature so long as you don't exceed your chosen maximum operating temperature.

Part of your problem may well be wide swings in temperature.

Keeping the temperature stable allows you to fine tune the ingredients.

Get a cheap hand held infrared temp gun from Harbor Freight or other source as it is a very accurate easy and fast way to monitor the temperature of the lamp in real time.

o.k. my bad. Didn't intend to be rude or anything.

Hello

I made the effort to translate the Basic Retro Formula into German.

There's one thing I noticed and don't understand. There is a listing of the "ingredients" required (destilled water, wax, perchloroethylene, salt, ethylene glycole).

Under the title "A BIT OF THEORY" the auther suddenly talks about the specific gravity of glycerin. How come? Glycerin wasn't mentioned throughout the whole recipe.

Can anybody explain this to me?

Best regards Danny 

The physics behind lava lamps rely heavily on the balance between the specific gravity (SG) of the wax and fluid. That is why that recipe talks about when the lava should sink and when it should float in the respective fluid mixes. The glycerin does the same thing as the ethylene products - it makes the water heavier - i.e. increases the specific gravity. Glycerin has a high sg - around 1.3 I think. so 50/50 glycerine and DI water = 1+1.3 = 2.3  2.3/2 = 1.15 = sg of that mix

In short - add more ethylene, pg, or glycerin and the water gets heavier thus making the lava lighter in comparison. If the wax is too light you can add perc to it to make the wax heavier as compared to the fluid.

Make sense?

In that theory area you are talking about he was just trying to show you how to do the math to figure out the sg of your fluid. Knowing is helpful.

Good luck!

Dan Zinger said:

Hello

I made the effort to translate the Basic Retro Formula into German.

There's one thing I noticed and don't understand. There is a listing of the "ingredients" required (destilled water, wax, perchloroethylene, salt, ethylene glycole).

Under the title "A BIT OF THEORY" the auther suddenly talks about the specific gravity of glycerin. How come? Glycerin wasn't mentioned throughout the whole recipe.

Can anybody explain this to me?

Best regards Danny 

Hello

Thank you for your reply.

The balance calculation with different specific gravities makes perfect sense (crystal clear :-).

I was (am) kind of confused because suddenly glycerin is mentioned in the calculation examples even though it wasn't mentioned throughout the whole retro-basic formula.

Best regards Danny

Hello again

Is it correct that I only need glycole/antifreeze to test and adjust the specific gravety of the ooze?

Best regards Danny

Yes, that is correct.

With that said - I don't do that at all. One piece of advice that I can give is to back off on the perc a little bit and make your wax lighter. My wax typically floats in DI water the 1st time and I adjust the density with perc while it is in the lamp adding just enough to get the float / sink balance that I am looking for.

Dan Zinger said:

Hello again

Is it correct that I only need glycole/antifreeze to test and adjust the specific gravety of the ooze?

Best regards Danny

So I could also use a different antifreeze (i.e. propylene glycol) as long as I know the specific gravity to mix the test mixture to 1.2 and 1.4?

English isn't my mother tongue so I have to ask if I got this right.

You add perc to the ooze while it is in the lamp?

But of course you drain the liquid first once the ooze is cold, right?

By the way - who is the author of this basic-retro formula?


So I could also use a different antifreeze (i.e. propylene glycol) as long as I know the specific gravity to mix the test mixture to 1.2 and 1.4?  (YES EXACTLY - but you mean 1.02 and 1.04. Note that PG is only 1.04 specific gravity which is why I make the wax lighter.  EG & SG Specific Gravity)

English isn't my mother tongue so I have to ask if I got this right. (YOUR ENGLISH IS PRETTY GOOD)

You add perc to the ooze while it is in the lamp? (YES, WHILE LAMP IS HOT. I USE A DROPPER WITH PERC IN GLASS BOTTLE .. I MAKE MINE WITH 1/4 CUP PERC INSTEAD OF 1/3 CUP)

But of course you drain the liquid first once the ooze is cold, right? (NOPE - SEE ABOVE)

By the way - who is the author of this basic-retro formula? (RETRO272)  http://www.oozinggoo.com/ll-form5.html

NOTE THAT I AM GOING TO ADD SOME LAMP OIL AND 442 WAX TO THE BATCH I AM MAKING UP TOMORROW TO SEE IF I CAN GET BETTER STRETCH THEN I GET WITH PERC AND WAX ONLY. NEED TO CLEAN THE BOTTLES TODAY

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