Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hi all! Did you notice that there is a lot of information at different sites about homemade lava lamps, but none about homemade glitter lamps? I think that glitter lamps use much simpler chemistry than lava lamps, which is much easier to reproduce at home. But what chemistry exactly do they use? Maybe just water and glitter? Or some kind of oil and glitter? Can anyone tell me? Thanks in advance.

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I'd like to know too...
Well, some glitter lamps use glitter made from aluminium foil, while others use PET film coated with metal? And what about the liquid? Is it water or oil or something else?
There are broadly two types of glitter lamp, "fast" glitter and "slow" glitter. "Fast" glitter lamps contain a heavy, halogenated solvent, such as Trichlorotriflouroethane (some Crestworth ones were labelled as such) or perchlorethelyne. Solvent lamps are characterized by the fact that with the lamp cold, the glitter floats to the top, and the bulb used is usually 25w or less. When switched on, the flakes move fast. Glitter lamps caused a safety scare in the early 1980's, due to the dodgy solvents used in some cheapo imports. Trying to make a glitter lamp using solvent is not a good idea, and anyway, most of the heavy solvents were outlawed by the Montreal protocol on ozone depleting substances.

"Slow" glitter lamps use a liquid such as propylene or polyethylene glycol, these are characterised by the fact that when cold, the flakes remain suspended in the liquid for a long time, taking several days in some cases for the flakes to sink to the bottom. These are heated by a 40w bulb, and the flakes move slowly in the liquid. The Crestworth patent for a "slow" glitter lamp can be viewed here.

Well, but do there exist any variations that use ordinary water, without any additives? Btw, will water/aluminium foil flakes combination work?
Aluminium has a specific gravity of about 2.5, water is 1, so no, aluminium flakes and water wont work, the flakes will just sink.
Will adding salt in order to increase density of water help?
A saturated salt solution (i.e a solution in which no more salt can be dissolved) has a specific gravity of 1.2, so it will still be nowhere near the specific gravity of aluminium,so still won't work. I was thinking about using strands of Xmas tinsel in a salt solution with some detergent to break the surface tension. According to various web sites, Xmas tinsel is made from PVC, so it has a specific gravity of 1.39, so it's still doubtful!
I have found an opinion (in a Wikipedia talk page) that glitter in glitter lamps flows not due to density similarities of liquid and glitter, but due to convection happening in the liquid when heated from one side of the bottle (unlike lava lamp which depends on density changes rather than on convection), and thus liquid and glitter do not have to be of similar density in order for glitter to flow. Is that opinion correct?
Yes, that is right, the glitter lamp flow is due to convection currents in the liquid, but for the glitter flakes to be carried around by the currents, the specific gravities of the liquid and the flakes must be close enough together, ie if the flakes are too heavy they wil remain on the botom, too light they will remain at the top.
Thanks for the answer, maybe only experimenting will show what chemistry is the bes here.
Btw, i have one recipe that i designed myself about four months ago. I call it a "rust lamp". Take a small bottle, fill it with tap water, and pour an uncovered steel nail or several uncovered steel paperclips into it. Close the cap tightly and forget about the bottle for several weeks to let corrosion to slowly and quietly do its job. After that, you have a bottle in which thousands of rust flakes flow chaotically, with or without heating, after even a slight shake. Maybe because density of iron oxide is similar to that of water (btw, is that true?). Make a base with a low power bulb (five watts will be enough), and the "rust lamp" is ready.
Even though the image produced by the device is relatively interesting and the chaotic flow of rust particles can be watched for hours, the device is nowhere as spectacular as an ordinary glitter lamp simply because the particles in the "rust lamp", unlike particles in a glitter lamp, are dark brown instead of being reflective, and therefore the device does not create any chaotic light reflections on walls. That's why i am still searching for other homemade glitter lamp recipes.
Sugar? Thanks, i didn't realize that there is such a simple recipe. But with sugar, i also need to add some kind of antiseptic into the solution?

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