Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Trying to crack the original formula- why was kerosene used?

In my quest to figure out exactly what the original formula is, one thing I haven't figured out is why they used Kerosene in the mixture.  It seems like it was a very small part of the mixture, something like 7% by volume.

But what was the point?  Did it act as a preservative, or enhance the flow, or help to bind everything together?

Speculations?

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I would guess it helps keeping it together as I have tried to figure out the formula too a few uears ago. the perchloroethylene kept leaching out and hence the flow got worse and worse until it stopped flowing at all.

I have actually found that there's two causes for that.  1)  Assuming you're using Brakleen, there's two types.  One will leech like that.  2) Not adding Liquid Paraffin, or not having pure enough Liquid Paraffin.

Arne said:

I would guess it helps keeping it together as I have tried to figure out the formula too a few uears ago. the perchloroethylene kept leaching out and hence the flow got worse and worse until it stopped flowing at all.

I had pure perc but I actually only used solid parafine. does the perc only bond with liquid parafine?

In my experience, yes.  When I originally set out I only used solids, like you, and *nothing* held together until I added LP.

Arne said:

I had pure perc but I actually only used solid parafine. does the perc only bond with liquid parafine?

Partial answer because I don't have the chemistry for it, kerosene can be used to help liquify the solid wax.  

Thats quite interesting...I think keith does have a point here, it might just help to liquify the wax faster and spread the heat more evenly. The wax I made didnt have this initial spiking when the already liquid wax turns around the still solid "hat" and solidifies again before slowly beginning to flow...maybe the missing kerose is why...and also...kerose does make everything better...if it can make planes fly and nascars go faster it probly is a good idea to just add kerose to basicly everything...coffee...joghurt...bottle of milk for newborn child...(before I get sued by someone who killed their baby, please dont, it was just a infantile joke, kerosene is not healthy for people or any other living thing...as far as I know...trial and error not recommended and neither is perc...look at me...before I tried making lava lamps I was kinda smart and now my jokes are horrible)

Ant Bee said:

In my experience, yes.  When I originally set out I only used solids, like you, and *nothing* held together until I added LP.

Arne said:

I had pure perc but I actually only used solid parafine. does the perc only bond with liquid parafine?

Well, that's an interesting thought.  LP is what I am using to not only bind the perc to the wax, but also to make the melting point of the mixture lower.

I wonder if they used LP at all, and just used Kerosene? 

I think what I will do is, the next time I make a batch, I will make some with LP and some Kerosene, and also *replace* the LP with kerosene entirely.  It's not like there's a ton of kerosene involved, so I don't think there's any danger.  Just stinky.

Also, to touch on your point about spiking, I actually think that Microcrystalline Wax is what makes that happen.  When I use it, I get nice spiky behavior on the warmup, Like this:

When I don't use it, the warmup looks an awful lot like the new China formulas that just kinda soften until it flows.

what is microcrystaline wax? any idea why it changes this spiking effect? did they also use different kinds of parafine with the original formula or isnt this shown in the patent which I think is available online. do you know of kerosene is heavier than perc? I'm wondering what mathmos used to make the glitterballs as they had to make it heavier in order to make the glitter squares float in the wax and not just sit at the bottom of it like it did when I tried this.

Microcrystalline is a type of paraffin wax that has a denser structure.  It has a higher melting point, which is what I THINK makes it do the spiking.  I add a little bit to my normal paraffin/LP mixture to impart some of the characteristics of oldschool lava.  However, if you make the mixture entirely of microcrystalline, it has a really hard time melting and just kinda sits there in a permanent "warmup" phase.

Kerosene is lighter than perc- it floats on water.

The original formula is not known, we just know a little bit because some dude ingested a lava lamp and the hospital requested the ingredients.  Lava Lite obliged but only to a certain extent- hence why we know kerosene was involved.  (I may be getting my facts a little wrong here)

One thing we do know is that Crayola used to provide their wax.  However, crayons don't work well for this, because they have a hardening agent that really screws things up in a lot of ways.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I could go about removing that agent, because melted crayola wax in a lamp looks JUST like vintage lava.

kerosene - makes the liquid less dense

And it what makes the liquid when you open the bottle smell like KEROSENE.  It's very easily detectable. Most other ingredients in the liquid are antifungals to keep the liquid clean and fresh forever.  

Wait- the liquid or the wax?  I'm no chemist, but isn't kerosene non-soluable in water?

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