Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hey everyone! Long time no see. So I have had a Colossus sitting empty in my house for a few years now after it wouldn't flow when I put a Gookit in it. I finally decided it was a shame to keep it in its sorry state.
For a quick recap of the original project you can check out this uploaded picture and read the comments.
http://oozinggoo.ning.com/photo/status-update-on-the-colossus-gooki...

I started this project with a call to the fine people at Magma Tower to get some advice on what went wrong when I originally tried this out. I emptied the water out most of the way to make it easier to move the lamp since I had moved a few times over the years. It turns out if you want to store their goo they suggest you store it dry so the water doesn't leech chemicals out of the wax. I was also told that chemicals can be left over from the original lamp contents that will stop the lamp from flowing. I also found out that even residue left on the cap can stop the flow once the cap starts to drip from the humidity. Finally I got the prescription for the lamp.

Scrape the top layer of wax off because it likely will have issues due to chemical leeching.
Wash it out with surfactant. 2oz should do.
Buy a 16oz bottle of surfactant and 8-9 gallons of distilled water.
Refill the lamp, add the surfactant, see if it flows.

Some stats for others going down this route.

  • The lamp needs 10ml of surfactant per quart. The lamp is 40 quarts(10 gallons) so I will need to add 13.5oz of surfactant.
  • The lamp should have a 20/80 goo to water ratio.
  • 175 watts is about what you need for a light. Bigger lava lamps are dramatically more effected by ambient temperature so you should probably use a 200 watt light and use a dimmer to maintain a stable temperature.
  • The top of the lamp should come in at 125-134 degree Fahrenheit.

I originally ordered 4 quarts of goo. I asked if that may have been my issue and I was told no, but it will have less wax at the bottom. I may end up having to buy 4 more quarts to reach. This kind of throws off the calculations slightly, but shouldn't effect anything.

I should have my surfactant next week, but I'll be out of state for a business trip. I'll update this post when I get back.

Anyways... picture time.

Views: 1941

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Progress update. It's still slightly cloudy. It has been that way since I added the surfactant. I'm hoping it will clear up with time. I'll take some nice photos once it clears up. If it doesn't clear up within a month I'll replace the liquid again. Besides that the flow is good and it runs without issue.

Killer flow

It's still clearing and I'm still working on figuring out how to properly use this camera for a good shot. Here are some quick ones I grabbed this morning before work.

I like the stringy goo

I still wasn't really happy with how the lamp was flowing and after leaving it sitting for another couple of years I refilled it again. It still did not want to flow following the standard formula Magma Tower provides on their site. After talking to Claude I discovered Magma Tower offers a "tower formula". This formula has less dense wax and it meant for bigger lamps. They only make this wax twice a year so if you are going to refill your colossus make sure to ask for this wax. The normal wax will not work.

Anyways here it is refilled again with the tower wax dyed orange. Flows without any alterations to the water.

2021 update!

I was still disappointed in the final results after I made my last post on the topic. The lamp only ran with a bulb extender and at full temperature. The thing about the colossus lamp is you don't really know the true results of any changes you make to it for about 24 hours. It takes a very long time for the lamp to change temperatures or density and behave differently. What I was disappointed with was after running the lamp for a few days the wax would turn transparent. It would lose it's vibrancy. I strive for perfection so this was driving me nuts. So I set out to fix 2 things. Make the wax opaque and make it run at a lower temperature.

The first thing I tackled was the temperature. As I mentioned earlier I bought some "Tower Wax" formula from Magma Tower a while back. It helped, but the formula was still off. It just didn't run like it was supposed to. The flows like in my earlier pictures were rare and the wax spent about 50% of the time at the bottom still. Additionally the wax would fill with bubbles over time. In the last picture you can see the top most blob was full of bubbles. Over time the lamp would lean more towards looking like that. To fix this I bought another round of propylene glycol. I ended up adding half a gallon to get the balance correct adding about 50ML a day over the course of about 2 months. This lamp definitely taught me some patience. I found the minimal dimmer position for the wax to melt and then increased the temperature by another 10%. Now I knew the lamp would run with a wide range of temperature options and I could adjust based on the seasonal temperature changes inside my house. I also learned another thing by doing this. No matter what temperature I ran the lamp at, the wax would go transparent. Even though I had the lamp running at just above the melting point it go transparent which disproves what I was being told by Magma Tower that the lamp was too hot. If it was any cooler the wax would solidify. Getting this ideal balance has allowed me to run the lamp for a month straight without adjusting anything on it. I'll be testing how long it can run. I suspect because of the size of the lamp and the lower temperatures I might be able to run it basically forever.

My next goal wax to solve for the transparent wax issue. I did some research on why the wax was turning transparent. The old theory that it is because the wax got too hot is either not true or half true. Wax turns transparent due to the crystalline structure of the wax. Most waxes become transparent when melted. As explained here.

https://www.quora.com/Why-does-opaque-candle-wax-become-translucent...

"

It has to do with crystallization in the wax. When solid, the long alkyl chains align and crystallize, and these crystallites scatter light which leads to higher opacity. When heated, the crystallites melt, and the resulting amorphous liquid no longer scatters light.

"

Candle makers have a way to manipulate the the structure of the wax with things like stearic acid. Turns out most opaque candles come with stearic acid. From my discussions with Claude he mentioned that the Magma Tower UV dye would make his lamps opaque. I have a feeling the dye they are selling has a high concentration of this so I bought 5 UV dye packs. I didn't want to dump something like stearic acid into the wax simply because I don't know enough about the science behind how it works to know if it would ruin the formula. Keep in mind 5 gallons of wax, 5 packs of red/yellow/orange dye and 5 packs of UV dye isn't cheap. Also I changed the color to red. I wasn't happy with orange.

I added all 5 packs of dye to the lamp and didn't notice any immediate change. Remember though any changes with this lamp takes time to really show so I gave it 24 hours later. The next day I woke up and the lamp wax 95% opaque. Problem solved... I hope. We will see over the course of the next month though.

A couple of other things I learned along the way.

The Magma Tower surfactant I ordered for this recent refill has some kind of bacterial growth in it. One of my bottles is full of the same slime I originally had in my colossus. The surfactant is unopened and straight from their factory. I have a feeling that is where my slime came from and several others on this site who have had the same problem. I suspect if I turned my lamp off and let it long enough it would grow slime again.

I was not happy with my previous capping solution. The bolt I used to hold the plug together ended up rusting and the plug never was a good fit. I ordered a new drain plug and reversed the bolt and added some velco strips to the top so the cap rests flat on the plug. This time I'm hoping the bolt is more resistant to rust since it is stainless steel. I figured I'd share this info since others will need a solution to replace their plug if they open their lamps up.

Cherne 270138 Black Mechanical Clean Out Plug, 3.78"-4.25"

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H57CLNA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_t...

It's been a long journey, but I think I am finally happy with the lamp and I can quit messing with it and just enjoy it. I work from home now and it sits next to my desk and I watch it every day. It's a shame it took me this many years to finally get a clear lamp that runs without constant fiddling, but in the end it gave me many hours of entertainment learning how lava lamps work on a deeper level.

YAY!
a long road but It looks like it was worth it

Definitely a learning experience

Did you use Propylene Glycol when you redid this lamp? If not you almost need to. Especially with the big lamps. Gookits on their own do not provide proper flow. You need to add a liquid density agent like PG. Good luck.

Another update. The lamp developed a residue on the inside of the glass. Not sure if it was due to the propylene glycol or the surfactant from Magma Tower. I turned off the lamp and took a shop cloth rubber banded to a pole to wipe it away. It didn't just wipe onto the cloth and instead it turned the lamp really cloudy. Chinese Lava Lite levels of cloudy. I had to use my MSR ceramic filter to remove the sediment from the liquid. I think either the surfactant or the propylene glycol must have either had impurities in it or I added so much it started to precipitate out of the solution and settle onto the glass. This was the first time I've had to turn off the lamp since November. It's back on and running fine though.

So, one thing I have come across in my research is that the standard practice for filling these lamps is as follows:

* Melt wax

* Spray inside of bottle with surfactant
* Fill bottle with wax
* Let Solidify
* Fill with liquid
* Hot water bath to eliminate stuck wax
* Capping

That hot water bath *may* have a dual purpose- if they leave it submerged long enough and the temp is hot enough, it could be enough to kill that slime-creating bacteria.  There's probably some anti-microbial agent in there as well, I would imagine.  I wonder if an aquarium supply store might have some good knowledge of additives that could help.

The stuff we do as hobbyists is uh... not sterile whatsoever.  I've seen similar growths on a couple of the smaller lamps I have fiddled with.

I am as certain as I can be that my bacterial growth came from Magma Towers surfactant. I still have an unused bottle from them that had the same slime inside it. No amount of cleaning would help if I add surfactant into the liquid after cleaning it. I think using chlorinated paraffin is what deals with most of the bacteria in Lava Lite's lamps. That's not to say my lamp wouldn't have grown something due to my process, but the growths in the unopened surfactant bottle and my lamp were exactly the same.

Ant Bee said:

So, one thing I have come across in my research is that the standard practice for filling these lamps is as follows:

* Melt wax

* Spray inside of bottle with surfactant
* Fill bottle with wax
* Let Solidify
* Fill with liquid
* Hot water bath to eliminate stuck wax
* Capping

That hot water bath *may* have a dual purpose- if they leave it submerged long enough and the temp is hot enough, it could be enough to kill that slime-creating bacteria.  There's probably some anti-microbial agent in there as well, I would imagine.  I wonder if an aquarium supply store might have some good knowledge of additives that could help.

The stuff we do as hobbyists is uh... not sterile whatsoever.  I've seen similar growths on a couple of the smaller lamps I have fiddled with.

let's just say,..
MTs lab has a lot to be desired in the area of cleanliness

I've had multiple containers of goo come to me with remements of insects in them

Reply to Discussion

RSS

About

Mark Goo created this Ning Network.

Support Oozing Goo

By using the eBay button above, you support OG if you purchase anything. Thanks for thinking of us. Mark Goo

© 2021   Created by Mark Goo.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service