Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I had a cloudy red/clear lamp from 1987.  I thought I would try an experiment.  I dumped the liquid and added distilled water, detergent for a surfactant and sugar instead of salt.  After 4 tsp of sugar the lava still won't dome.  Has anybody tried either sugar or salt with vintage lava?  Either the vintage lava is denser than sugar water or I have yet to add enough.  Seems like more than enough sugar water has been added already if it is ever going to dome.  I was trying sugar since it made sense to me that salt would have a tendency to rust the coil over time.  Would my problems go away if I dump the liquid and just use salt instead?  One very cool effect of the sugar water is that it makes the globe look like a magnifying glass.  I bet if I could get it to work with sugar the lava would move through the globe like it's in a funhouse mirror.  Any ideas?

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Um, not used sugar, I might be wrong but, I don't think you can change the density of water with sugar. I've used epsom salts on Mathmos globes from the mid 90's. If it was my globe, I'd probably take out the liquid and start again as I don't think the sugar will do anything. Please don't take my sole advice though, I'm only learning myself, wait for a lava expert to reply lol. :) Best of luck.
Consider the fact that nobody is willing to divulge the original contents and concentrations of a vintage lava world mix, particularly for copyright reasons. That being said, anybody on this site that has ever had the least bit of success could be called an expert by the Webster's dictionary definition. Even a crude salt lamp works better than anything I've seen from Lava World lately. I tried sugar because I was concerned about corrosion of the coil. I consulted with an old chemistry teacher buddy of mine. He said: "It will probably work, but it will take quite a bit more sugar than salt for it to happen". Having never made a lava lamp himself he had no idea just how much it might would take. As you can see, it takes a tremendous amount and it doesn't even dome. I may try it again with a homemade wax/perc mix. I'll keep everybody posted on the success/failure of that venture. I've got it in my head to make a lamp with that sexy vintage flow and I will succeed. It's just a matter of time. Thanks for the input Susan. Your help is much appreciated.
I see what you mean about coil corrosion, never thought about that. Have you checked out the section on here about how to make a lava lamp (sure you have, just thought I'd mention it in case you'd not seen it)

:) Sorry I'm not much help lol.
Yep. I've done quite a bit of research on this stuff. No need to apologize. Seems I remember that you have tried your hand at making a lamp as well. Any successes lately?
I only re-filled two Mathmos astrobaby bottles, that's all lol, with epsom salts and water.
Has the liquid become cloudy? I've heard pickling salt (a pure salt) is actually better for use than epsom for that reason.
They seem OK still at the moment but, I've only used them a couple of times since I filled them up again.

To be honest, I've decided that I'm not re-filling any more, I'm just going to buy new bottles from Mathmos.
That would certainly be the more economical choice if you consider the time it takes to get one working with salt. Although I just love it when a creation comes to life. Nothing like saying I did it myself. I've heard Mathmos is trying to get licensing to sell in the USA. Can't wait for that. Say goodbye to the ancient dinosaur called Lava World if that happens. They simply don't hold a candle to the clarity of a Mathmos lamp.
True, very true, I just wonder how long my creations will last lol.

I'm a stickler for lamps having to look really, really clear, like cyrstal clear, otherwise they totally do my head in.

The lamps I re-filled flow really well but, they have the odd bubble in the wax which I've not seen with a non re-filled lamp, I think I'm just too picky. You can see a pic of the lamps in my photos on this site.
Weird. Your last post didn't have a 'reply to this' link. Seems we have something in common with the 'must be clear' issue. I just hate a cloudy lamp. Maybe the bubble in the lava on your lamp will work itself out over time. You might just have to run it for a while longer. I had one with lots of bubbles in the wax and it did work itself out over time. It was a brand new lamp and just had to break itself in.
Did it not! Strange.

You are probably right about the bubbles, they will probably work themselves out over time. Cheers.
Sugar will not work like a salt to change the density of the water. Salts work because, by definition, they are ionic compounds that break apart in water and increase the space between the water molecules, serving to increase the density. If, for example, you take normal table salt (NaCl) and dissolve it in water it forms sodium and chloride ions. Sugar (C6H12O6) does not work the same way. It is an organic compound and even though it is water soluble, the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms do not readily separate like an ionic compound. Not to mention, hydrogen and oxygen are components of water already so it does not effectively change the density or specific gravity like an ionic compound will. I hope this helps!

Jester

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