Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

How to stop these small lava blobs? (picture included)

So I received a classic LAVA LITE from ebay.


The flow is pretty good except that the lava comes apart easily and ends up making lots of tiny balls of lava. When I let it cool all the wax including the tiny balls settle. But when I turn it back on it the little balls form again.


Is the wax too hot?  Damaged in some way?


Is there any fix?


Thank you! :)


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What wattage bulb do you have in that lamp? It seems like it's too hot to me.
40 watt appliance bulb.
How long are you running it before this happens?

Connor said:
40 watt appliance bulb.
About an hour. When the lava starts flowing, the little balls start forming as well.
How long do you let it run before you shut it off?
I've only had it for a couple days. I have ran it for 4 hours a few of times. This is a used lamp by the way so I have no idea what it has been through, though the water is pretty clear.

I would keep running it for about 4-6 hours every day. I do have a globe from 1993 that overheats really quickly and I've never figured out why. Sometimes if a globe hasn't been run in awhile, it can have weird flow issues. Keep running it, but give it a definitely cool-down period in-between runs.

If you look at the bottlecap and tell us the #s on them, we can tell you how old it is. :)


Also, what's the room temp where you're running this? That can have an affect, too.

Connor said:

I've only had it for a couple days. I have ran it for 4 hours a few of times. These is a used lamp by the way so I have no idea what it has been through, though the water is pretty clear.

I figured out the lamp was made in 2002. It is running in the basement out 78 degrees.


I'll keep running it then everyday to see if time can heal it but honestly I am doubtful that it will.


If anyone else has advice it would be appreciated.

Running lamps over and over again fixes most problems. Give it time. You might also want to check and make sure that the wax is making full contact with the coil. Another thing you might try is making sure your light bulb is frosted, not clear.
Okay. The coil and wax are touching fine. The bulb however is not frosted. I will try a frosted one and give it time. Thanks. :)

Let me guess ... the tiny blobs crop up when a large blob separates, and the skinny, stretched-out goo between the upper and lower blobs snaps into a tiny droplet-sized blob, rather than remaining part of one of the larger blobs, right?  So you've got two medium-sized blobs, with a tiny blob or three floating in between them, right after separation?


I've got a 2000 lamp that does the same thing.


My current best guess is that the bulb (both mine and yours) is just fine, and that the issue is a sub-optimal amount of surfactant.  Whether there's a bit too much surf or a bit too little, though, I'm not sure.


Clearly, in the battle between goo-cohesion and goo-surface tension, the surface tension is winning, which makes me think that the problem is too little surfactant, rather than too much.  But that may just be wishful thinking on my part, because it's obviously a lot easier to add some surfactant than to remove some.  (Although I do have a plan for that, if that should prove necessary.)


Would anyone better-versed in goo chemistry care to chime in? 

Interesting comment there MJM - I reckon its possible too much surf as if you add too much then this brakes up the surface tension and creates small blobs. I think this is quite common with lamps made around this time and generality with any Lava Lite lamp (even USA ones), I have a china lamp made around this time and its doing the same thing so it probably something to do with the formula.

I think it is overheating as so try putting it on a dimmer and see what happens then.

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