Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

New Guy just did a water transplant have a few questions and one on water coloring black wax.

I have a ? size lava lamp. It has a 4" Dia base where the glass sits on top of and is 16" tall without the plastic top. It is black wax on black base.

I just did a water cleaning. I couldn't afford the gookit. All I did was emptied out the water rinsed it out a few times filled it with distiled water and added a epsom salt solution until it got moving good.

The first time I did it I also added a little dishwashing soap (1-2 average size drops) while still trying to get the movement right (adding salt solution) It seemed like it would go from not moving to long strings (thick though) from top to bottom most of the time and or oversized balls that couldn't get to the top because it was wedged going to the top. Then at the end I had it where it had too many small balls (like popcorn )and even smaller balls that would just get smeared in the water clouding it up again.


I re-did it again, I did not add any dishwashing soap at first and added the salt solution slower this time and seems a lot better. It has a variety of small-average large balls and stings. It still does produce a few specks of wax maybe 10 or less at a time but they seems to all fall to the bottom and does not cloud up the water.

Any way to get this any better?

I did add the smallest drop of dishwashing soap possible. I mean probably the size of a ball point pen tip because I saw a little spot of wax that was stuck to the glass. Afterwards I saw a different spot on the glass it was a very small spot again but it must of removed itsef as I don't see it anymore.

Should I try to add more soap?


Besides the couple questions above here is a few more:

What size lamp is this called?

Should I try to add more soap?

I need to put the top back on (crimp type bottle cap) I was thinking of doing this when it is hot and with the hose clamp method. When its hot I have a total of a 1" air gap to the top.

Is this a good enough air gap?

Is there any water coloring that would look good with black on black? I tried looking around and could not find any pictures of water coloring with black wax. :(

Any other sugestions or questions please let me know


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Hi Michael, I just recently redid a 52 orange liquid/black wax lamp.  What finally worked after many tries is this:  Empty the liquid with the wax at the bottom and cooled.  Add a little dishwash and distilled water, swirl it around to coat the inside of the globe then pour it out.  Fill the globe 1" below  your fill line with distilled.  Mix a small spoonful of epsom salt to 2 oz. of warm water.  Dissolve.  Add to the globe.  Pour in a one-second timed small, light stream of dishwash liquid.  Top off the globe to your fill line with distilled.  Cap and heat it up and see what you get.  We've got lots of smaller globs, but we like that.  You might be able to add a little more dishwash to reduce the number of little globs and get bigger globs. 

You might have a bigger globe and need to add just a little more epsom solution and dishwash. 

On the liquid level, I mark the globe at the bottom edge of the cap with a sharpie.  I fill my liquid just over this mark 1/8" maybe so the air gap does not show.  This leaves plenty of room for the expansion of the wax. 

On the liquid color, we left the liquid clear.  Not much works with black, it becomes too hard to see the lava.  The clear/black is awesome!   I just today redid a blue/red wax because it was cloudy.  I used two drops of blue food dye to my 52 oz globe.  The results are stunning, what clarity and a beautiful lamp.  I will be adding pics to my photo section in the next day or two.

I used a hose clamp to tighten the cap back on, after I was sure I liked the flow.  Hope this helps you somewhat.


Thanks Vince,

It seems like mine acts the opposite of yours if I put in soap. I put the smallest drop possible in it (more like a drip) and got the salt to the point where it was flowing good. I ran it all day and was good. I cooled it down and it had the wax residue all around the top. I cleaned the top out by hand and the next morning I put in 1 drop of soap (more like a real size drop) and now it is making smaller balls and a lot more micro specs but also at the same time it seems more gooey and won't break up and stretches from the bottom to top. I am not sure if that means to much soap not enough or too much salt now.

I am going to try again tomorrow and see if I can figure it out.


I'm still on the learning curve, but this is what I do know as fact.. The epsom will increase the density of the water so that the lava will rise when it hits a certain higher temp.  You do not need a lot of epsom to get the right effect.  The "surf"actant which is the dishwash supposedly alters the lava action.  I think a drop or two is not enough in my tests.  A decent little squirt worked for me.  (if you did the calculations I think it comes out to less than 1% of these additives) And finally the hotter the lamp the smaller the blobs and the more likely they'll camp out on top.  On the goo kit when I used too much surf (or dishwash liquid) the goo action got worse, bigger blobs and less action.  If you can afford to redo the liquid again, then try adding more dishwash to see what effect you get, I would say. 

One vital key is to coat the inside of the globe with surf before you add the distilled.  This really keeps the lava from sticking.  And when you cycle it a few times it does get better and the wax on top will eventually melt down and recombine. 

Oh, also, firsthand I can say that using a dimmer on some of my lamps helps.  I let them get real hot, then put the dimmer on them.  After an hour you can see the flow get bigger blobs, more stretch, and less hangin' out at the top!  It's my belief you can put a dimmer on a lamp and run it continuously for a long time, within reason.  The goo kit folks have run their lamps for days on dimmers.

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