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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Use beeswax instead of microcrystalline paraffin you'll be satisfied.

It crashes to the bottom when I use the glow power.



Ant Bee said:

Alright, I got a new batch of strange and wonderful chemicals in, so lets mix them up in random proportions and see what happens!

According to random forum/youtube comments, Vybar and Stearic acid can be used to increase opacity.  Beeswax is just because I want to see how it behaves. 

The powdered pigments are what I'm most excited about.  I got them here:

https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Fluorescent-pigment-powder-f...

All of my research on the methods used to color OG formula leads me to believe that the same powdered pigments used in Crayons will work best.  They are Melamine formaldehyde resins, a VERY fine powder (almost like flour).  I have no idea how much of this stuff to use, so I just dipped the end of a knife in there and yeeted it in.

I didn't know they'd ship glow in the dark stuff in my sample pack!

So DUH, we are gonna try that today.  Here's what's cooking:

I am using FAR less micro, and no kerosene whatsoever.  The idea here is I want to see if we can lower the melting point without using kerosene, but also have the benefit of opacity from a touch of micro.

Here goes nothin!

Small failure update:  using less liquid paraffin and no kerosene, while keeping a higher ratio of perc isn't ideal at all.

The stuff is just *way* too dense, even with mostly PG in the liquid, it just sits on the bottom.  Doesn't even lid-flip, it's *that* heavy.  No pictures, since its pretty uninteresting.

However.  Even in their lame-ass, blob on the bottom state, I could tell a few things.

1) The powdered pigment is nice- however it may need something to hold it in solution.  There's a limit to how much the wax can "hold" before some of it starts to settle on the bottom.  However, *none* of it "escaped" the wax into the water.  Good.

2) Stearic acid does in fact provide opacity.  Doesn't leech into the water either.  Good.

3) The vybar gives the wax a very strange, almost petroleum jelly like consistency, and doesn't provide a full opacity on it's own.  Sort of a splotchyness.  I'm not sure what to make of it yet.

4) Beeswax is actually pretty nice.  Even the small amount I added gave the liquified wax a nice consistency and a touch of opacity.  I don't think it was part of the OG formulas, because I don't think that would be very economical, but I'm going to mess around with it some more anyway.

Overall, I think some combination of these things, plus going back to a lighter wax formula will yield good results.

Thanks for the update!  Interesting info :)

Perc is 62% heavier than water. PG is only slightly heavier than water. You could have a pure PG liquid lamp and it still won't flow with too much perc. You should calculate the density of your solution before making the lamp. Then you only need to fine tune it once you make it. 

Ant Bee said:

Small failure update:  using less liquid paraffin and no kerosene, while keeping a higher ratio of perc isn't ideal at all.

The stuff is just *way* too dense, even with mostly PG in the liquid, it just sits on the bottom.  Doesn't even lid-flip, it's *that* heavy.  No pictures, since its pretty uninteresting.

However.  Even in their lame-ass, blob on the bottom state, I could tell a few things.

1) The powdered pigment is nice- however it may need something to hold it in solution.  There's a limit to how much the wax can "hold" before some of it starts to settle on the bottom.  However, *none* of it "escaped" the wax into the water.  Good.

2) Stearic acid does in fact provide opacity.  Doesn't leech into the water either.  Good.

3) The vybar gives the wax a very strange, almost petroleum jelly like consistency, and doesn't provide a full opacity on it's own.  Sort of a splotchyness.  I'm not sure what to make of it yet.

4) Beeswax is actually pretty nice.  Even the small amount I added gave the liquified wax a nice consistency and a touch of opacity.  I don't think it was part of the OG formulas, because I don't think that would be very economical, but I'm going to mess around with it some more anyway.

Overall, I think some combination of these things, plus going back to a lighter wax formula will yield good results.

Side note- I have been tinkering with three different cloudy Spencers 52oz globes- you know the ones.  Boring, perfectly spherical blobs, one up, one down.  I used this as an opportunity to test the conventional wisdom of more surf = stretchier blobs.  So each one has a varying amount of SLS in it, with the most being almost 15% pure SLS by volume in distilled water.

....they all flow identically.  It makes not a lick of difference to the modern formula.  I DO think it's worth adding a lot more SLS than I normally would- I think the 90's globes had a lot in them, which is why they are practically stick proof.  But with modern lamps, you can go absolutely apeshit with it and it doesn't do a damn thing.

They also are not using Propelyne Glycol at all- it's pure distilled water and surf.  The older formula uses almost 30% PG by volume (or at least we think so, based on available documentation.)  But why does that matter, if the relative densities sort of equal out?  Lighter wax, lighter fluid.  Heavier wax, heavier fluid.  Should be the same, yeah?  But we all know, it's not.

I am starting to think that relative viscosity is what affects flow.  PG and Glycerin is very viscous, it's almost syrupy.  The modern waxes are very viscous (with a higher melting point, too), and the fluid they float in is not viscous whatsoever.  It's water and a touch of SLS.  The old wax formulas by comparison seem very liquidy, and the fluid it floats in is very viscous due to the high amount of PG/Glycerin. 

I'm not a scientist, but this seems very intuitive to me.  Viscous wax in non-viscous water (modern) has no "side pressure" from the surrounding fluid.  There's no "resistance" as it travels through the liquid.  Therefore it is perfectly happy to take it's least-resistance shape, a sphere.

Less viscous wax floating in much more viscous fluid experiences resistance as it travels, which makes it take all sorts of weird shapes.

Since you can't really make oldschool formula rise with simply distilled water, this is hard to prove.  BUT we do have one way to prove it- modern 32oz globes vs grandes!

Grandes (gookits have this problem, too) straight up will not rise as high as they do without some PG in them.  And also, the flow is much stretchier in these big lamps, despite using the same lame ass modern formula.  Because the fluid is more viscous!

Coincidence?  Can't be.  Home-brewers, prove me wrong!

Conventional wisdom around these parts, and all over the hobbyist space in general says that more SLS/surf = stretchier, more interesting flow.  Here is some evidence to what I'm saying above, that surf alone does not affect flow.

This pic is the same lamp.  (colors are different just because the lamp behind it is on/off)  It's a china 2018 formula, formerly blue liquid red wax 52oz. These China formulas are made to exist in pure water with surf, no propelyne glycol or anything like that.  This is probably a cost saving measure, but that's neither here nor there.

In the both pics, it's "maxed out" on SLS, meaning if I add any more SLS to the liquid, it has a really hard time blending with the water and tends to stay in its natural "boogery" consistency.  Nothing in it but pure water, SLS, and unaltered wax.  The left is super boring.  One perfect ball up, one down.


On the right, I added a few grams of perc, but also added some PG to balance it out.  This means that the wax itself is slightly less viscous, and the liquid is also slightly more viscous.

The wax still heavily favors the perfectly spherical shape, but look at the formation, the "finger" below the blob in each picture that connects the rising blob to the coil.  On the left, it barely stretches at all before surface tension "snaps" it off.  On the right, it's much stretchier before the "finger" is broken.

The actual SLS content is hardly changed, we're talking a half an inch of liquid that was drained from the lamp that I replaced with PG. 

But the relative viscosity is very different.

See where I'm going with this?  SLS content isn't important except to prevent sticking.  Relative viscosity is what is changing the flow!

How did you make the wax density without perc on the left side.
Wax is lighter than water.

Ant Bee said:

Conventional wisdom around these parts, and all over the hobbyist space in general says that more SLS/surf = stretchier, more interesting flow.  Here is some evidence to what I'm saying above, that surf alone does not affect flow.

This pic is the same lamp.  (colors are different just because the lamp behind it is on/off)  It's a china 2018 formula, formerly blue liquid red wax 52oz. These China formulas are made to exist in pure water with surf, no propelyne glycol or anything like that.  This is probably a cost saving measure, but that's neither here nor there.

In the both pics, it's "maxed out" on SLS, meaning if I add any more SLS to the liquid, it has a really hard time blending with the water and tends to stay in its natural "boogery" consistency.  Nothing in it but pure water, SLS, and unaltered wax.  The left is super boring.  One perfect ball up, one down.


On the right, I added a few grams of perc, but also added some PG to balance it out.  This means that the wax itself is slightly less viscous, and the liquid is also slightly more viscous.

The wax still heavily favors the perfectly spherical shape, but look at the formation, the "finger" below the blob in each picture that connects the rising blob to the coil.  On the left, it barely stretches at all before surface tension "snaps" it off.  On the right, it's much stretchier before the "finger" is broken.

The actual SLS content is hardly changed, we're talking a half an inch of liquid that was drained from the lamp that I replaced with PG. 

But the relative viscosity is very different.

See where I'm going with this?  SLS content isn't important except to prevent sticking.  Relative viscosity is what is changing the flow!

The wax is just the wax that came with the lamp when I bought it- I believe they are using prechlorinated paraffin to make it heavier.  But they use such a lightly chlorinated mix that you only need water to make it rise- no PG

Only pure water and surfactant are sufficient in some formulas that I have made.

Ant Bee said:

The wax is just the wax that came with the lamp when I bought it- I believe they are using prechlorinated paraffin to make it heavier.  But they use such a lightly chlorinated mix that you only need water to make it rise- no PG

Yep, and this is what is in the modern china lamps.  A wax formula that only requires pure water and SLS.

The purpose of this test, though, is to show that the poor flow isn't caused by a lack of SLS, but rather the actual formulation of the wax itself.

Wax content; When I add greasy ingredients, eg silicone oil, kerosene, flaxseed oil, terpentine. Then it looks like a snake. Perc is for density only. But when I put too much, I add 85% glycerin to balance it. When I add more perc, the rising wax goes down faster. These are my observations.

Ant Bee said:

Yep, and this is what is in the modern china lamps.  A wax formula that only requires pure water and SLS.

The purpose of this test, though, is to show that the poor flow isn't caused by a lack of SLS, but rather the actual formulation of the wax itself.

What do you think about this study. I am running it now. Tap water, surfactant and glycerin.

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