Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I've recently re-filled a 2-year-old Astro with new water, following precise instructions on how to get it done. I've been happy with the results during the first two days.

But on the 3rd day the wax just stopped moving and stayed on the bottom forming a balloon-like shape that just won't rise, even when it's been turned on for 6 hours. So I figured the water wasn't heavy enough, therefore I need to make it more dense by adding epsom salts into the water.

So I dissolved some epsom salts in a beaker until the solution was saturated. Then I took an eyedropper and put in two drops of the salt solution into the lamp. The moment the drops fell in the wax started to rise like crazy. BUT it also became very, very bubbly.

I haven't read anything on the internet about epsom salts causing bubbly wax. Perhaps I did something wrong during the re-filling process. Perhaps there were unknown impurities in the water that caused it.

So I drained the lamp again, cleaned the inside of the globe by filling it halfway with ice-cold water and gently twirling it, draining it again, and filling it with distilled water. Finally I added the same amount of purple coloring into the lamp, and same amount of surfactant.

Same story again. It ran fine for two days. Then on the third day the wax stopped rising. I add in 1 drop of epsom salt solution, then another, until the wax started to rise. But it became bubbly again. So now I'm quite convinced that epsom salts causes the bubbles of water to form inside the wax.

Another side-effect of epsom salts is that it fogs up the water. There is even some light wispy stuff that seemed to have formed from the salts which settled out of the solution, now floating in the water. They're very unappealing and they ruin the aesthetics of the lamp.

I don't know who first came up with the idea. But adding epsom salts is BAD for a lava lamp :D

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I tried epsom salt long time agon in one of mine : it 'broke' the oil and someone in a thread said that one should'nt even consider using it as it brakes the oil.

If I read well you thread, the oil stayed 'doming' BECAUSE of the liquid too light, so the oil is denser/heavier & stays down. You have to experiment with some product to change the liquid density but obviously stay away from epsom salt.

I'm using epsom salts with mine and the water is perfectly clear and the lamp functions well. Now going on my 3rd year with this solution and I'm not seeing any coil or wax issues.

That's great and all that you haven't had trouble yet, but it's known that salts, even Epsom salt, are corrosive to metals and can cause problems with the coil. The anecdotal evidence/experience that you used it but haven't had issues yet doesn't change that.


I'll report back if it shows any issues in the future...


silas Jordan said:

That's great and all that you haven't had trouble yet, but it's known that salts, even Epsom salt, are corrosive to metals and can cause problems with the coil. The anecdotal evidence/experience that you used it but haven't had issues yet doesn't change that.

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