Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

The problem below has been fixed. Please see the second page for my new question.

I bought this lamp (my first) at an auction. I had no previous knowledge of lava lamps except that I knew they worked because of thermodynamics and that they were cool. The lamp is a Century, I'm pretty sure, but I have some questions.

The first one is the lava lamp, the second one illustrates the 'chunks' in the lava. The outset has been adjusted in Photoshop to bring out the flakes.

When I turn on the lamp, it heats up fine, but then a large blob starts accumulating at the top because bunches of lava merge together, and does not go away (it seems like surface tension holds the blob there to the top of the liquid). I read here that the lava should only be able to merge when at the base, and not at the top (at least not much). How can I get the blob to go away (see below for possible causes)?
Also, if you look at my second picture, the blob at the top is full of 'clumps' of whitish flakes. These are not melted obviously, because they actually cause spikes to poke out of the blob at the top. I have looked all over for explanations of these, and can't find any. Can I do something about them? They are like this guy described here

Here are the lamp specs:
Model: Century 102 (found that out by looking around)
Bulb: 60W unfrosted (we replaced the original bulb, was to cold for our house, but installed a dimmer switch which is set below max.)
Height: 15in approx.
Color: red wax/clear liquid.
Room temp: 62-65 F (I know, we run our house cold).

My dad suggests the following:
1. empty liquid.
2. melt lava and swirl to homogenize it.
3. filter liquid to remove cloudiness.
4. rebuild lava lamp.
Will this take care of the problem?

If anyone could help, that would be great.

Edit: I turned the lamp on this morning and after heating up, the wax on the bottom formed a big cavity underneath and basically popped, sending the bottom layer of wax away from the coil. Now it won't run. Is there anything I can do about this, or is the lamp a lost cause?

Edit: Now the wax is running, at least in little bubbles. How can I keep this from happening again?

Views: 1173

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hope you get good some techno advice. There are plenty if guys with good knowledge around here, this one's a bit of a mystery!
I'm beginning to suspect that the problem of the popping lies in the bulb not being frosted, but I'm still clueless about the flakes.
Thanks. Will try that.

Will this solve the lumps problem too?

BTW, should I use a 40 watt, since our house is only 62-65 F, and my current bulb is a 60 w with a dimmer control set below maximum?
Ok, we went ahead a did a complete 'refresh'.
1. Emptied out the liquid while filtering it into a clean container. Then sealed the container.
2. Melted the wax inside and sloshed it around to ensure that it was well mixed.
3. Used a piece of copper wire to hook out the coil. The coil looked new and shiny, but we cleaned it with rubbing alcohol.
4. Poured the wax out of the globe and skimmed off some small white flakes floating on the wax.
5. Cleaned out the inside of the globe with rubbing alcohol.
6. Poured the wax back into the globe and added the coil.
7. Added the liquid back in.

The lamp seems to be running fine now. I will put a 40w light bulb in and see what it does. It definitaly looks much cleaner and I can't see any flakes in the wax.

Thanks for the advice.
So far it is only bubbling small bubbles. I can't seem to get it past that stage, but I'm hoping that it will begin to circulate big globs again. The flakes are still there a little bit, but there are way less. Right now it's getting rid of air bubbles we introduced by moving the wax around in the air. It kind of looks like the lamp is burping. And the liquid is 90% clearer than it was (nothing's perfect).

Just a question: You have two coils showing in your pic. My lamp only has one. Is that okay?
Ok, now it's running full. It's still having problems with the lava merging almost the instant it gets to the top. But I think our labor did help clear the liquid, which is good.
Well, the white flakes are back, and its back to doing what it did before*, although the wax is not pooling up at the top as much (probably because I have it running cooler) and the water is clearer. I will give it a few months. I found out when cleaning it that it is a 1990 model 100 Century. I bought it about a year and a half ago, and I just now started to run it again. Hope letting it run will help.

BTW, the wax seems cleaner now, even though it still has flakes, and the wax still has some bubbles in it.

*For Notability: It sends a blob up to the top, where it merges. Then the top gets heavy and releases a blob back to the bottom, where it merges, and the process starts all over again.
Ok, the lamp is working now with the flow (although it seems to prefer the full heat of the 60w bulb for some reason). However, It has been having trouble warming up. It sends out tendrils out the sides, as expected, but then it never makes little bubbles. I dont know quite what it is doing, but somehow the whole blob of wax at the bottom (and sometimes the coil as well) rises up and turns on it's side. It's really hard to get it to go back down, and I don't want to hurt the wax. Is there any way to keep it from doing this?
Actually, I think that the problem with the flow is that I have little tiny air bubbles (not liquid, air) around the top edge of the wax at the top. These float and and support a part of the wax and keep it from returning to the bottom. When a glob of wax comes up, it slides off the bottom of the glob at the top, and heads up one side. It should push the wax at the top away from it as it does, but because the bubbles are holding that wax to the top, it stays where it is and the blob from the bottom is squeezed until it comes in contact with the wax at the top, causing them to merge. If I could get rid of the little air bubbles (they are really small), I think the wax would flow better.
Will a Styrofoam cup do instead of a towel? That is what I use now, and it fits nicely over the top of the lamp.
Ok, the lamp has been running fine for some weeks now. However, most of the time when it heats up, the lava right near the coil (bottom of the globe) gets gooey, but the lava that is on top if it is really hard. as it heats up, the whole lump at the bottom tilts up to one side, and eventually the side now closest to the bottom heats up enough to 'spring a leak' and the lava shoots up the side to the top as expected. Is there any way to get the lava to heat more evenly from the top to bottom of the lump? Also, I think the reason my lamp takes so long to get going in the mornings is because our house gets down to 52-58 degrees during the night, which is much colder than it is during the daytime, so the lava is very cold when the sun comes up.
Well, the temperature is usually 65 in our house, and I am in the coldest corner. We turn the heat on in the mornings, but overnight the lava cools a lot.
What do you mean by white chunky stuff.
Also, I really can't do a refill from another globe, as I don't have one. But if I do get another lamp (just to run on its own, perhaps. I would really like to find a 20 or 50oz blue/white lamp.), where would you recommend getting one from? Coolstuffcheap? Ebay? If The Personality Fits?

Reply to Discussion


Support Oozing Goo

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

© 2020   Created by Mark Goo.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service