Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Finally, I went to experiment with watermiscible(!!!) smoke-fluid as an ingredient when replacing the "water" of a lavalamp.

I assume you all know that, as given in the Crestworth Patents, glycol is (or has at one time been) an ingredient of the original mixture!

The colorless(!!!) liquid used in smoke-machines (!Note that there also is "oil-based" fluids, but I use a water-based here!) contains a non-toxic type of glycol which, afaik, can be either "propylene glycol" (PPG) or "polyethylene glycol" (PEG).
Unfortunately, over here (Germany) there's no regulation binding manufacturers to list the ingredients of such products, much less to indicate the mixing ratio. )-:

Yet, the price for one canister (5 litres = over 1 gallon) ranges between 10 and 25 Euros. In comparison: 250 ml (0.25 litres) of pure glycerin also cost 10 Euros in a pharmacy.
And my very first - bold and thus failed - experiment showed that 0.30 litres of smoke-fluid already are an overdose (once hot enough, all the wax shot up to the top and wouldn't sink again. >.< )

- - -

I used a Mathmos Astro that previously had the liquid replaced with the common water/epsom salt/soap mix. I disposed the liquid, rinsed the bottle carefully and refilled it with tap-water.

! NOTE: As it can cause annoying complications, a bottle freshly filled from the tap should rest for at least one day, so that the air "dissolved" in the water can settle. !

I placed the bottle on the lamp-base, let it heat up for the prerequisite time and then started to add the smoke-fluid as I would do with a salt-solution (i.e. add a little, wait a little, repeat). It took about 120 millilitres to get the wax to rise.

! NOTE: The required amount may differ. Smoke-fluids contain different concentrations of glycol depending on the thickness of smoke they produce. The "heavier" the smoke, the higher the concentration. !

Now that I had the one large globe rising and falling, I added a few drops of a soap-solution I prepared earlier (1 drop of clear dishwashing liquid in a few millilitres of water). I'm still not happy with that, simply because the dishwash contains more than one substance including useless ingredients such as perfume or citric acid. I doubt that they're any good for lava lamp chemistry.

Anyways, with the water/smoke-fluid-mixture the wax proved to be much more "willing" to behave as desired and soon formed nice blobs. Once that was obtained and appeared to be stable I screwed on the lid and switched the lamp off.

SUMMARY (Remember this experiment was done with a Mathmos - The Original!)

The water-based, watermiscible and colorless smoke-fluid is a cheap and reliable source for a non-toxic type of glycol.
USE: It lowers the specific gravity of the water, allowing the wax to rise. It also appears to aid in the interaction of wax and detergent, which results in a much clearer mixture than what can be obtained using salt-solutions.

Now all that's left to find is the perfect(!) substance to replace the common dishwash.

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I just fixed a second Mathmos Astro in the same way.

I have no real proof for the following. And honestly I simply don't understand how the wax/fat solution (the goo) can be caused to foam (aka Bubblitis), to begin with.

So this only is a conclusion and I might be misjudging what I've seen, but it seems that - with glycol in the equation - there's a higher risk to cause Bubblitis with the slightest bit of too much soap.

So I removed part of the mixture, replaced it with pure water and then added a little smoke-fluid again to replenish what was lost. And Tadda! The Bubblitis had lessened. I have almost no doubt that it, in fact, is caused by the soap...

Yet, for perfect action, I would have to add some more soap to reduce the size of the rising globs ... Now what?

As I said in my first post above, there must be a substance that works better than the common dishwash.

Or maybe there's a third chemical that must be applied to hold the Bubblitis at bay???
Erhm? Yes, I guess so. It's the only way I know to get blobs of the usual size and behavior (you know, the "exclamation mark" shape...) Do you know an alternative?

And a thick mixture using glycol.... hmmm.... I wonder if the glycol concentration in smoke-fluid is strong enough for that?!?!?

Smoke- or fog-fluid should certainly be available at a music store or the likes. Over here hardware stores sell smoke-machines and liquid, too.

You may want to search online using key words and the name of the part of the world you live in.
e.g. using "smokemachine" and "london" I found this site:

Now, if the concentration should prove to be too low, the only other (unfortunately expensive) alternative, that I know of, would be buying the pure substance in a pharmacy. A good pharmacist should also be able to help find out the exact type you need to get the desired concentration.

hope this helped,

Okay, some more news on this:

First, the first one I refilled using smokefluid and dishwash got overheated when I fell asleep, that caused some minor clouding, but the liquid is still, like, 98% clear.
The second one works perfectly and looks so, too.

And yesterday I just refilled another one, a white/clear Astro trying something new.

I bought an old Astrobaby bottle that had all color faded from the liquid and instead of using dishwashing liquid I took a few cc from that original liquid to get the wax in my refill to break as it should. Works like a charm, of course!

Next week I hopefully will receive an original globe of the new white/clear production.

I can't wait to compare them side by side. Cuz then I'll be able to tell how good this smokefluid really works.

I iz so excited!
End and final outcome of this experiment:

Given the latest comparison of a brand new white/clear to my refilled one, I tend to call it a fail.
Sure it works, but it IS NOT the perfect solution.

As of today it's offical! Those refills I made using smoke-fluid, even tho promising and certainly the best I managed so far, don't stand even the littlest chance compared to the perfection of clearness in a brand new original.
Sad but true. )-: I doubt that its the dishwash alone causing the troubles, the complete mixture is un-perfect!

I wonder what a chemical analysis of the masterfluid would cost? Can't be more than what I've put into my various experiments over the years (including messing up three globes beyond repair.)
I would love for someone to do a chemical analysis of the main fluid and the wax so we all would know exactly how much of everything to put into it all. I've been dabeling with making a lava lamp and the ones I did just don't compare to the original lamps. Maybe I should just use my left over wax to make candels lol.
yeah seriously

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