Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I am refurbishing an old Hot Rock model 4650-X lava lamp which goo went bad and stuck permanently to the sides.

I have followed this recipe: http://www.oozinggoo.com/ll-form5.html

I was able to make the goo work ONCE, but after it cooled down, it never worked again. It either stuck to the walls of the bottle, or it floated to the top and never came back down (it cooled down that way).

Now I tossed the old batch. I think I used too much petroleum jelly (about 4 or 5 table spoons) in order to correct the goo's density. I saved the liquid (distilled water with a drop of dish soap and two drops of food coloring (blue)).

I'm not worried about what went wrong, but I'd like someone to help me with a reliable recipe with proper measurements of quantities and details. If it helps, I have a float hydrometer to measure water density.

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This recipe actually works fairly well, keep in mind the following:

1. The less Tetrachloroethylene (Perc) you use the more likely you'll have a quality goo. Sometimes this goo will degrade after a month or two, if you do it right, it will not degrade/separate.

2. Vaseline and Mineral Oil should make up less than 2% of the total goo.

3. Oil helps lamps heat up quickly, too much oil will make lava stick to the sides of the globe.

4. Vaseline adds opacity (non-translucency) to the goo, but too much and it sticks to the sides, takes forever to cool, and doesn't flow pretty.

5. Narrow bottles by nature do not work with this recipe, a narrow bottle will not have a good flow, and the goo will always stick to the sides (20 oz lamps really don't do great with this recipe, I've made it work, but it takes patience and a lot of tweaking).

6. You need to cure this goo before you start getting it to flow, heat it up to almost boiling and slowly turn the temperature down over the course of 40 min to 1 hour. Then allow it to solidify.

7. After you get a good flow going, let it cool completely, COMPLETELY. Then start it up again, you will notice it doesn't flow as well as it did before, you still have to do some minor tweaks (usually adding a bit more surfactant).

Those are my tips seven tips.

Also, I notice when people follow this recipe they ignore the advice given at the very end; it's a huge timesaver:

I thought it might help to go over how you can calculate the specific gravity of a mixture. Estimating a solution’s specific gravity is not too hard, you just need to know the specific gravities of each component. I looked up the material safety data sheets for each of the ingredients for the lamp, and the specific gravities are approximately:

     Distilled Water = 1.0
     Glycerin = 1.26
     Perchloroethylene = 1.62
     Wax = 0.8

Multiply the specific gravity times the percentage for each ingredient, and add together.

For example, A 50% glycerin, 50% water solution has a specific gravity of:
(1.26 x 0.50)+(1 x 0.50) = 1.13

If we have a 25% glycerin, 75% water solution, we can estimate the specific gravity as follows:
(1.26 x 0.25)+(1 x 0.75) = 1.065

A 1/3 perc, 2/3 wax solution would have a specific gravity of:
(1.62 x 0.3333)+(0.8 x 0.6666) = 1.07

Great help Vision.
A few further questions
1- Should I aim for the solution to also be around 1.03 like the goo?
2- if we are aiming for a 1.03 goo density, why does the recipe call for a mixture that will give us a 1.07? Or should my goal be 1.07?
3- To cure the goo (tip #6), do I do that before adding it to the globe? If not, do I do that with the liquid in the globe already?
4- For surfactant, does it matter the concentration of the soap I am using? I feel my soap is very concentrated so I was a little afraid of using too much.

I am convinced my first goo did not work because of the amount of Vaseline I used. It was more than 25% in volume for sure. I will definitely use less perc this second try.

Wish me luck!

1. Yes, shoot for 1.03, make it just heavy enough to sink.

2. Not every wax has the same density, even the same box of wax of the same brand can be a little different. If possible get the weight of the wax then factor the amount of Tetrachloroethylene to add.

3. Yes, I highly recommend doing this before adding it to the globe.

4. Don't use Dawn as your surfactant in any amount, it will tear the goo to pieces, you want a mild surfactant, and not much of it. Dishwashing liquid is popular but often damaging... you wind up with an emulsification that looks like floating dandruff in the goo. You can try making the fluid out of Polyethylene Glycol, or Glycerin, or grab some Fog Solution for a Fog machine (which is 30% Glycol 70% Distilled Water), I haven't tried Fog Solution yet myself, but it will work.

Glycol and Glycerine have surfactant qualities by their nature, and you usually don't have to add any additional, but they can be a bit pricey.


Good Luck!

Great! I have pure glycerin at home. How much of it? A few drops or a percentage of the liquid?

Trial and error, slowly with patience. Or develop a system similar to his advice at the end of the tutorial, find the specific gravity of x amount of glycerin vs x amount of water and then you'll be far ahead of the game.

Will do. Thanks Vision!

Once again, I feel I have missed somewhere that there is no salt needed.  Do you use salt with the distilled water?  I am going thru a rough patch of bad lamps (impatient operator) and am looking for answers.  lol.  I am no longer using dawn dish soap and am working on the patience factor.

So am I correct in my assuming that gycerin is being used instead of Polyethylene Glycol?

Thanks for any direction you can give me . 

Vision said:

This recipe actually works fairly well, keep in mind the following:

1. The less Tetrachloroethylene (Perc) you use the more likely you'll have a quality goo. Sometimes this goo will degrade after a month or two, if you do it right, it will not degrade/separate.

2. Vaseline and Mineral Oil should make up less than 2% of the total goo.

3. Oil helps lamps heat up quickly, too much oil will make lava stick to the sides of the globe.

4. Vaseline adds opacity (non-translucency) to the goo, but too much and it sticks to the sides, takes forever to cool, and doesn't flow pretty.

5. Narrow bottles by nature do not work with this recipe, a narrow bottle will not have a good flow, and the goo will always stick to the sides (20 oz lamps really don't do great with this recipe, I've made it work, but it takes patience and a lot of tweaking).

6. You need to cure this goo before you start getting it to flow, heat it up to almost boiling and slowly turn the temperature down over the course of 40 min to 1 hour. Then allow it to solidify.

7. After you get a good flow going, let it cool completely, COMPLETELY. Then start it up again, you will notice it doesn't flow as well as it did before, you still have to do some minor tweaks (usually adding a bit more surfactant).

Those are my tips seven tips.

Hello, I've refurbished my chinese lamp recently using this recipe and it works pretty good. First of all, remove all the contents of the bottle and degrease it with boiling water with dish soap, gasoline or thinner. You can also use a piece of rag wrapped around some bar to clean it also mechanically. This will eliminate sticking problem.

Wax floating to the top means the wax density is too low. It's now a lot less dense than water. No one can give You correct quantities, because every wax source is different. I used about 6 types already, and each of them acts different, so You have to work out proper recipe straight for Your wax. Here's some photos of my "achievements"

First one is my very first attempt to making lamp. I used aromatic candles and it sucks - water gets foggy quickly...
Second one is a testing globe made of vodka bottle with ballpen springs inside :D Green goo worked very well here!

EDIT: Oh, I see this topic is a fossil :D

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