Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

It's hip to be square - DIY Square block lava lamp build

Well that worked.

Recipe is close to a 65% distilled water 30% propylene glycol 5% glycerin mix. Wax is paraffin, liquid paraffin, TCE.

Glass 'craft' block has a rectangular opening at the top which required a custom acrylic/rubber plug seal. Stand is temporary until I can design molds for a cast concrete form that I like. Currently it's made of scrap ply and some aluminum foil for a reflector. 40W bulb.

Metal coil is three extension springs overstretched and attached end to end with some stainless steel wire to compress the loop to fit in the bottom of the block.

Overall, I'm elated with how testing has been going. When pouring fluid out of the block, it's better to tilt it and let the fluid run on the outside of the block and collect it below the bottom corner due to the shape of the glass. So far, there's thankfully been zero sticking to the glass and it seems to flow as good as the other lamps I've built. I'd love to improve my wax/fluid to have more stretch, slower movement, and more action, but for now I'm very happy. :)

So there you go. A true square lava lamp. No idea yet how I want to color this one.

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Looks great! I like the different visual compositions the square shape allows for.

I like it! Great job!

looks awesome! as for color i'm thinking either stain the base a light color (or don't stain it at all) and do a dark color wax like black or purple, or stain the base a dark color and do a light color wax like yellow or orange. this would create a cool contrast and also i would leave the liquid clear.

I did another run with the square block lamp and I wonder if I'm using enough wax, have enough heat, or if I need more surf. Most of the wax was totally content to hang out at the top or bottom of the lamp with little exchange. Seems to be the issue I run into with most of my home built lamps actually. Usually, I always end up not getting much movement except for the occasional big blob up or down. It could be my SLS.

When my SLS showed up (I bought a gallon of it), there was a white substance settled at the bottom of a clear fluid. Not sure if I needed to agitate it and homogenize the mixture prior to pipetting it in.

I haven't made much progress on the design for the cast concrete bottom/top I plan to design for this lamp yet either. I think I may hold off until I can get some high quality casting silicone to make some good flexible molds since I've been using rigid 3D printed molds for my original design and it's a pain to clean them and lubricate them with petroleum jelly as a mold release. I'll likely use Moldstar 30 by Smooth On, but it's expensive for the amount I'll need to make the molds for the top and bottom for all my designs. I could do a design that looks like a retro TV since it's a square build.

Also I'vet already done thumbnail sketches on a 3x3 array of lava block lamps mounted to my wall with tidy cable management, welded frame, and centralized controls for individual dimming. It would make a such a cool room piece.

I'll post updates when I get more success with the balance and uncooperative flow or any luck with a design for the rest of the lamp build. For colors, I definitely want to utilize colored fluid with a secondary color lava or just leaving the lava white-which I'm starting to think may be my favorite.

My SLS came super concentrated and nearly the entire bottle was filled with white substance to the point where I would have had to scrape rather than pour it out. I heated the bottle by putting it in a bowl of warm water and after like 10-15 minutes all the white stuff was dissolved and I added it to the lamp. This was back in January and I had to repeat this process of heating every time I wanted to make a lamp, but now with the warmer weather the SLS seems to stay liquid 24/7 with no white stuff in the bottle at all.

Anyway if you didn't dissolve all the SLS before adding it to your lamp it is possible that the concentration that you added was much less than you intended, which would lead to weak flow. I had the same problem with mine until I added the SLS and then it began to flow like mad (although side note, I added way too much and clouded up the liquid a ton).

I look forward to your updates! Your lamps are way cool compared to a lot of the other homemade lamps i've seen because you build cool bases and like entire lamp designs rather than just putting your custom formula into an old lava lamp globe or wine bottle.

Thanks Tim. I fear you could be right about the SLS. Strangely, I don't see any white substance at the bottom of my jug now and I've barely used any of it, which is curious considering my lamps still flow like garbage.

Also, going to remember that compliment and ride high until the next minor inconvenience!

Something else you might like-since I can only run cycles and observe flow of my lamps when I'm physically home, I'm acquiring items to build a remote monitoring/observation/control station for cycling lamps when I'm not at home or doing stuff outside. Just using wifi outlets, a wifi dimmer or two, and a wifi camera. That way I'll be able to monitor my lamps and control their power (if using a dimmer) and turn them on/off from wherever so long as I've got connection on my phone and at home.

tim said:

My SLS came super concentrated and nearly the entire bottle was filled with white substance to the point where I would have had to scrape rather than pour it out. I heated the bottle by putting it in a bowl of warm water and after like 10-15 minutes all the white stuff was dissolved and I added it to the lamp. This was back in January and I had to repeat this process of heating every time I wanted to make a lamp, but now with the warmer weather the SLS seems to stay liquid 24/7 with no white stuff in the bottle at all.

Anyway if you didn't dissolve all the SLS before adding it to your lamp it is possible that the concentration that you added was much less than you intended, which would lead to weak flow. I had the same problem with mine until I added the SLS and then it began to flow like mad (although side note, I added way too much and clouded up the liquid a ton).

I look forward to your updates! Your lamps are way cool compared to a lot of the other homemade lamps i've seen because you build cool bases and like entire lamp designs rather than just putting your custom formula into an old lava lamp globe or wine bottle.

Mattgyver92 said:

Something else you might like-since I can only run cycles and observe flow of my lamps when I'm physically home, I'm acquiring items to build a remote monitoring/observation/control station for cycling lamps when I'm not at home or doing stuff outside. Just using wifi outlets, a wifi dimmer or two, and a wifi camera. That way I'll be able to monitor my lamps and control their power (if using a dimmer) and turn them on/off from wherever so long as I've got connection on my phone and at home.



That's a smart idea and would be a very fancy setup, although i'm not sure if i would be interested in building something similar as I don't run my lamps when I am not home at all out of fears that my shoddy wiring/construction will catch fire and burn down the house. but i wish you good luck with the project as it sounds really cool!

I did some sketchup work after a lot of doodling around ideas for what to do for this square lava lamp to help celebrate it's shape and ended up with something like shown above. The parts repeat to reduce the number of molds I need to print and cast with silicone. The base will be combined into one solid form before casting a silicone mold. Base is laminated laser cut wood parts just like my rocket design. The parts will likely be attached via pegs (likely wood) and some adhesive that plays well with concrete. The top parts will be friction fit to allow access to the top of the glass block and the seal.

Going to do silicone molds for the rocket design top and bottom first before doing this one since the rocket is smaller and will need less material to make the molds. If it works, I'll do the same for this one. :)

That's all I have to share for now.

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