Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I redid a 52 oz. LL that has black lava.  Dumped the colored liquid and now going with just clear.  Keeping the original LL black lava.   I used distilled water, a little bit of dissolved epsom salts, and started adding dishwashing soap.  The liquid is staying clear and the lava is moving, but I'm not getting the lava to break up.  I've attached a picture.  So my question is:  What effects the lava breakup, adding epsom salt or adding more soap (surfactant)?  How would I know if I added too much soap?  My goal is to get more round smaller blobs and less stretchy.  Can one add TOO much soap?  Thanks for any help.

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It doesn't look like a surf problem, it looks like a water density problem to me, anyway. Try adding a bit more salt water, and hopefully that column will reach up and break off.

It's interesting to me that you're getting these results when replacing LL fluid.

Oh, and that's not really a "lava tube", that's just stuck column flow. :p

LOL, I need to learn the terminology.  I will drop a little more epsom solution into the liquid.  Loren can you elaborate when you say the results are interesting - good, bad, unexpected?  Thank you for the help.

Loren said:

Oh, and that's not really a "lava tube", that's just stuck column flow. :p

Well, considering the fact that I added maybe 1 tbsp of distilled water to top off a clear/red midnight that leaked during shipping, and that lamp never ran again...I was surprised that you obtained the results that you did...a lamp that flowed at all!

And you can also try adding more surf...don't be afraid to try different things and take notes. You can always try the water solution again, but yes...too much surf can destroy lava.

Check real good for any places where the wax is sticking to the glass-I've definitely had a situation or 2 which looked jus like this, and turned out to be a place on the very bottom where the wax was stuck to the glass.  And take it from someone who has ruined several LL lamps with dishsoap-the wax in LL lamps can't take much dishsoap!  I've never had one survive more than a few drops...

Good luck!

UPDATE: So I added more epsom and let it run overnight.  Just a big 'ol stuck column.  What I will do is empty the liquid and repour with distilled and some epsom.  But I will only add like, two, drops of dishsoap.  When you guys say 'destroyed' the lava and 'never survived' the drops of soap, are you saying the wax itself is no good or that you just have to put new liquid in?  Is the wax actually trashed?   I do appreciate your guys help.

I do find that coating the inside of the globe with some surf eliminates sticking, as I have not had any.  Jus when I turnned the hot lamp upside down (slowly) I did notice a little wax sticking at the bottom around the ring a little.  There is also a coating of black stuff (it's black lava) at the bottom.  The bottle may need a good scrubbing on the bottom to get that crap out of there. 

Sounds like you have a good plan.  The signs I had that I used too many drops of dishsoap was the wax started sticking to the glass; no matter what I did to try and fix that I never could stop it sticking.   A couple of times it ruined the wax in that it caused really odd and ugly little pointy tails to remain on the blobs after they separated.  It's hard to describe, but whereas normal wax separates then immediately snaps itself back into a rounded shape, the over-soaped wax would pull apart, and the long pointy spot left over from the point of separation wouldn't pull back into the blob, it would jus stay extended and pointy and very ugly.  The other thing I remember is I've had it form one continuous column of wax from the very top to the bottom which refused to break off into separate blobs. 

You're right about needing to clean and then coat the inside w/surf.  Depending on how much soap you've already hit the wax with, I'm thinkin' it may be a thin line between getting enough surf to keep the wax off the glass, but not too much to freak the wax out.  I've been having some very good success with mixing wax, which makes me think PERHAPS if you reach a point where you think you K.O.'d the wax, maybe you could try removing part of the wax and replacing it with some wax from another source.  Back when I didn't know better, I gave up and threw the wax out once it showed the bad signs.  I've had some wax turn the corner here lately, after adding in some unadulterated wax to help it remember how to act.  LOL 

Good luck!

Last time I fitted chinese lamp with "homemade" wax and I had this problem too. I my case, running lamp for longer time cured it's sickness. But I'm sure there are differences in wax formula between chinese and original so maybe can't do the trick with Yours. I'm recommending adding salt as long as Your lava will do something, even if large amounts is a must. It shouldn't harm wax, and can help You. When You add too much, lava will stay mostly on top so You can cool it down, pour some liquid out and add tap/destilled water to decrease it's density. I'm tuning my lamps like this as long as it flows without overheating for about 24 hours. When this job is done, and You are sure the densities are right - add one drop of surfacant and I think it'll be successful restoration :)

And don't forget to post Your results here! Greetings from Poland.

Thanks for the inputs fellow goofolks.  So here is what I did..  Emptied out the bottle, wax and all.  Scrubbed the bottom with boiling water and dishwash liquid.  Poured the black wax back in, cooled it.  Then I put in a little distilled water, and a few drops of dishwash liquid.  I swirled it around and shook it around the inside of the bottle.  Then I dumped that and added distilled to the top.  I put in 3ml of very concentrated epsom salt mixture (in distilled water).  It's now on the base and heating up.  So let's see what happens and I will begin tuning. 

I think the black wax is funky, a little different chemical makeup..  I will prob try adding more epsom to the mix if I do not get much action at all.  I do think I need to add a LOT more epsom.  3ml in 52 oz water is not much.  That works out to under a tenth of a percent !!!! of salt.  Prob hardly anything!  So I'm sure I'll need to add more epsom.  Of course I do not know the concentration that I made, but suffice to say it's strong.  (isn't this a molar thing in chemistry....??)

Jus I know exactly what you are saying, I got the pointy things too, like upside down teardrops.  Adding more surf made that go away and resulted in the stuck column.  So let's see.

I will post results.

UPDATE:  OK, so what I did was the lava is hanging on the top of the globe.  For three cycles I've poured about 8 oz out and replaced with just distilled water.  This is to reduce the concentration of epsom salt solution in the liquid.  I've attached a picture-- lava is still hanging at the top.   My epsom salt solution was VERY concentrated, could it be that I have to water down the liquid even more to get the lava to start sinking?? 


That's likely the case, Vince.

Good luck!

Hi Vince,

Yes, you have a density issue, but it's that your water is too dense.  DO NOT as more salts or surfactant.  Let eh lamp cool, then take out about 3/4 of you water and replace it with distilled.  Should do the trick.

In theory, your problem is that as the goo warms it rises as it becomes less dense than the water. Problem is that it may not be fully liquified yet.  Most want their goo to fluctuate above and below the density of the water when it's in the liquid state. If it rises before it's fully liquified then you water is too dense.



UPDATE:  Yes Jus and Jethro, I certainly concede.  I had way too much salt in the mix.  I found out what happens when it's WAY too dense with highly concentrated epsom salt solution-- the wax just floats to the top and stays there.  All camped out like a lucky ball of goo.  Sittin' on top of the world!   BTW I had not added any surf (dishwash liquid from the dollar store) to this trial.

So I dumped the liquid and put in ONLY distilled, there might be enough residual salt solution sticking to the inside of the bottle after I dumped it, so this time let's see if I can get a little lava action.  I also only added two TINY drops of dishwash liquid, to prevent sticking.  

Thanks for the help, again, I appreciate it!  I will post another update when I get somewhere with this.  Just a reminder what I'm trying to do is convert an orange/black LL 52 oz. into a clear/black.  Once I get a good black lava flow I might add a tiny bit of coloring to the water.  The orange that LL puts in their orange/black is too dark, renders the lava invisible.

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