Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I've made several different colors of wax/fluid for lamps and I've attempted a few times to get a nice purple color for the fluid for a lamp with yellow wax. I use McCormick liquid food dye for my fluids and have been generally happy with the colors I can get with them. But I wasn't super happy with the result when making purple fluid and thought I went too dark. The tricky part is I'm not sure how to get a nice color for the fluid when the lamp is lit up. Too light, and I don't think it's saturated/vibrant enough when straight light is passing through. Too dark, and the saturation might look good for the fluid, but the wax is harder to see and enjoy.

It could just be that I'm overthinking it and can get away with way less dye than I thought, the photos I'm referencing aren't true to the real color of the lamp (something I've noticed when trying to photograph my lamps), or maybe there's some element of pink/purple fluorescence to commercial fluid. There could also be a subtle haze that's helping the light and color from the fluid in these commercial lamps scatter more nicely without needing so much dye.

Is there maybe a chart somewhere for using liquid dyes in water for getting good lava fluid colors?

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when do you add the dye? if you dye the liquid as the very last thing you do and you do it while the lamp is running it shouldn't be that hard to get the color right.

otherwise are you making purple by mixing red and blue or do you have purple dye? despite what you learned in 1st grade art class you can not make every color from just red, yellow, and blue; and mixing red and blue will almost always make a muddy purple unless you have a pinkish red and a purplish blue (ultramarine is good). but even then it will never be as vibrant as a good purple dye.

Yep, I think that's the problem. I've been mixing the color with the lamp under the bottle to where I can see it, but the muddy purple you describe is my issue since I really only have red and blue to work with. I ordered some 'neon' liquid food dye (lime green, hot pink, purple, etc) last night which will hopefully get me much closer to an authentic pink and purple fluid. 


Magenta and blue should result in a not muddy purple.

If you are looking to reproduce the Mathmos purple, here you go-buy this

Hmm. The link seems to be broken.

Claude J said:

If you are looking to reproduce the Mathmos purple, here you go-buy this

Interesting! I thought about pen ink for if I ever wanted to try a smoke gray fluid. Even with neon food dye, I don't feel like it's much better than where I was, so I may give this a try.

Many thanks!

Claude J said:

I used to use food dye but it doesn't last

I did a test with the calligraphy ink in just plain water and it's WAY closer to what I was looking for. Big thanks Claude. Also picked up a magenta color as well and it makes an awesome pink fluid.

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