Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate


All, After trying several concoctions (from this site, thank you...) to repair the motive fluid in the lamp, I turned to a few friends at the industrial lab I work at. We downloaded the original patent and found that the fluid is a simple 30/70 by volume of propylene glycol and water. After looking in our stockroom I found some clear Prop-gly but it was pretty old. My one chemist friend said that this fluid is organic and after many years (the lamp is about 19 years old) it will start to breakdown. She suggested a change out of fluid. So I removed and remelted the wax and steam cleaned the container to remove any bacteria that may have gotten in after I was trying different things. After pouring in the wax onto the element, I bought a bottle of Easy Going -50 antifreeze from CAMCO. I called them and it turns out that the mix is: 30/70 by volume. And, it is tinted red which is the color I was looking for. As you can see the repaired lamp works perfectly and no more haze. I just wanted to pass this on so if somebody is looking for a ready made fix to change out cloudy water this may be for you. P.S. the lamp is a LAVA LITE by Lava Simplex. Cheers and Happy Holidays, Scott

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Very cool, just to let people know you can also buy the antifreeze clear and also some pretty cool neon colors. Your success is making me want to try a few liquid replacements.

Very cool.
Thanks for this!. Propylene Glycol is available on Ebay UK, and I've often considered trying this, its not that cheap though, when you can get a new bottle from Mathmos for £23 wth a guarantee of sucess. I wonder about the cheapo "slow glitter" bottles, (not the solvent based "fast glitter"), whether these contain propylene glycol (the Crestworth Glitter lamp patent mentions a mix of Propylene and Polyethylene glycols. A cheapo slow glitter lamp from a boot sale may be a source of Propylene Glycol, with the flakes sieved out, to mix with distilled/deionised water to make motion fluid.
Further to my last post, I've done a bit more searching for Propylene Glycol in the UK, and have come up with Fernox Alphi 11 central heaing protector. http://www.fernox.com/?cccpage=alphi_11&sub=8. On this page, it gives the concentrations/freezing temeperature. These correspond with the ranges given on the wiki page for propylene glycol, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propylene_glycol, suggesting that the Fernox product is undiluted Propylene Glycol, though probably with corrosion inhibitors. The Fernox product is clear too!. £20 for 5L will repair a lot of lamps if it works. I will be giving this a try.
When I called CAMCO, I specifically asked the tech as to the additional ingredients such as inhibiters etc. He said that since it is FDA approved as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) it doesn't come with inhibiters. A.) Because it is for potable water e.g. you can drink the water after it has come into contact with it and B.) No need for inhibitors because most of the systems that it is used in are not closed loop meaning that the seasonal use of this type of antifreeze does not warrant additives. In other words the Easy Going -50 if for the sanitary as well as the wash sink. So when our RV's come back out after the long winter we can just flush it. It is possible that you can obtain some 100 % Prop-Gly from VWR or Sigma Aldridge. Since it is instantly soluble in water you can start with a 30/70 and tweek as necessary with a dropper.
UPDATE to the lamp fix. Now that the fluids are happy I decided to focus on the lighting. It turns out that our cold upstate NY winters have a chilling effect on the Lava Lamps. So, I bumped the wattage up to a 60 from the std 40. I also polished the inside of the 'frustrum' (That's the upside down truncated cone that the lamp sits on) Mine had some reside from whatever and was probably sinking some energy. I also now realize why we use frosted lamps. The diffusion of the IR makes a nice even melt on the bottom of the lamp/element. My next course of action is to use Floworks to model the convective currents in the lamp. I'll post the results when it do this., This can show us where the energy goes to in the lamp.
Nice info to know!

BTW, I looked it up, and you can get UV reactive propylene glycol coolants for water-cooling computers. You can also get clear with your choice of colored dyes. Neat!

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