Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Trying to crack the original formula- why was kerosene used?

In my quest to figure out exactly what the original formula is, one thing I haven't figured out is why they used Kerosene in the mixture.  It seems like it was a very small part of the mixture, something like 7% by volume.

But what was the point?  Did it act as a preservative, or enhance the flow, or help to bind everything together?

Speculations?

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Since you are experimenting with propylene glycol you may be interested in this old patent.  

https://patents.google.com/patent/US3570156A/en

In it Mr Walker describes using 30% pg to improve startup time and lessen the effects of ambient temperature on the lamp. I've never heard anyone mention this aspect of pg before.

It has been found that some viewers may becomes impatient during the preliminary heating up period. It has also been found that there is a danger of the globule or globules of the first component breaking up into unattractive tiny droplets if the device is overheated, i.e. operated for excessively long periods. Further, difiiculty has been experienced with the second component in cold climates and during transport where there is a danger that it will freeze and cause the container to break. Still further, it has been found that the display properties are unfavourably influenced by changes in the ambient temperature or by draughts and the device must therefore be carefully positioned.

According to the invention, the water or second component contains an additive of a substance which has the effect of raising the coefiicient of cubic thermal-expansion of the water alone. Surprisingly, all four of the above-mentioned disadvantages can be overcome by this simple expedient, especially if the additive has a relatively high coefficient of expansion, for example, polyhydroxy organic liquids such as glycerol ethylene glycol, polyethylene glycol or propylene glycol, preferably the latter.

Innnnnteresting info there.  I have been using PG in my own lamps for a while now, but only in the smallest amounts I can get away with.  I wonder if I need to make the wax *much* heavier, and balance that by using a lot more PG?

Use glycerin and you will get quick results.

Sorry, can you be a bit more specific?  What is glycerin, and does it go in the wax or water, and for what purpose?

Also I will whip up a batch based on that first document you provided, and give that a test run tomorrow.  Thanks again for that.



Ant Bee said:

Sorry, can you be a bit more specific?  What is glycerin, and does it go in the wax or water, and for what purpose?

Also I will whip up a batch based on that first document you provided, and give that a test run tomorrow.  Thanks again for that.

You can use glycerin instead of propylene glycol to increase the density of water.

Propylene Glycol and Glycerin

 

Main Difference - Propylene Glycol vs Glycerin

Propylene glycol and glycerin generally look the same as they are colorless, odorless, sweet and syrupy. Although they share some physical properties, they have very distinctive properties and due to the toxicity of propylene glycol these compounds are very important to identify correctly. Glycerin is also called glycerol. It is used in the food industry, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications. However, propylene glycol applications are limited due to its toxic behavior. The main difference between propylene glycol and glycerin is that although propylene glycol has two-OH groups, glycerin has three-OH groups.

 

What is Propylene Glycol?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O2. The IUPAC name for this compound is propan-1, 2-diol. This is an alcoholic compound. It has two-OH groups as functional groups. The molar mass of this compound is about 76.1 g / mol. It is a clear and colorless liquid at room temperature and pressure. The density of this liquid is about 1.036 g / cm3.

Propylene glycol consists of an asymmetric (chiral) carbon atom. Therefore, this molecule exists as a pair of enantiomers. Since it is alcohol, it can form hydrogen bonds. It also mixes completely with water. When mixed with water, it disrupts ice formation. This leads to its use as an antifreeze agent.

One of the main applications of propylene glycol is its use as a chemical raw material for the production of unsaturated polyester resins. Because propylene glycol can reduce the freezing point of water, it is used as a defrosting fluid in aircraft.

 

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin is an organic compound consisting of three-OH groups. This is an alcoholic compound. It is therefore grouped as a polyol. It is a colorless, odorless, sweet and syrupy liquid. It is not toxic. Glycerin has high viscosity and flows slowly. The IUPAC name for glycerin is propane-1,2,3-triol.

The chemical formula of this compound is C3H8O3. The molar mass is given as 92 g / mol. The density of glycerin liquid is about 1.26 g / cm3. Glycerin melting point is about 17.8 ° C. The presence of -OH groups causes glycerin to form hydrogen bonds and mix with water completely.

It can be found as glycerin, natural glycerin or synthetic glycerin. Natural glycerin can be found in plant and animal sources as triglycerides. Synthetic glycerin can be obtained from processing propylene.

Because it is non-toxic, glycerin is used as a solvent or flavoring in the food industry. It has also been found that glycerin helps in preserving foods. Also, glycerin is used in the pharmaceutical industry. Ex: cough syrups. Glycerol can be used as an anti-freeze agent due to its ability to form strong hydrogen bonds.

 

Similarities Between Propylene Glycol and Glycerin

Propylene Glycol and Glycerin are liquids at room temperature.

Both are sweet and syrupy.

Both compounds are colorless and odorless.

Both are alcoholic compounds.

Both compounds can be used as anti-freeze agents due to their ability to form strong hydrogen bonds with water molecules.

 

Difference Between Propylene Glycol and Glycerin

 

Definition

Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol is a synthetic organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O2.

Glycerin: Glycerin is an organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O3.

 

-OH Group Number

Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol has two-OH groups.

Glycerin: Glycerin has three-OH groups.

 

IUPAC Name

Propylene Glycol: The IUPAC name for propylene glycol is propan-1, 2-diol.

Glycerin: The name of IUPAC glycerin is propan-1, 2, 3-triol.

 

Molar mass

Propylene Glycol: The molar mass of propylene glycol is about 76.1 g / mol.

Glycerin: The molar mass of glycerin is about 92 g / mol.

Melting point

Propylene Glycol: The melting point of propylene glycol -59 o C - is a negative value.

Glycerin: Glycerin melting point is 17.8 o C - a positive value.

Toxicity

Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol is considered a toxic compound.

Glycerin: Glycerin is a non-toxic compound.

Result

Due to their similar appearance and sweet taste, it is often difficult to distinguish between propylene glycol and glycerin. However, it is very important to recognize a propylene glycol sample from a sample glycerin due to the toxic effects of propylene glycol.

References:

  1. Hendrickson, Kirstin. "Properties of Propylene Glycol." LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 14 Aug.2017, Available here. Accessed 30 August 2017
  2. "Glycerol." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Aug.2017, Available here. Accessed 30 August 2017
  3. Busch, Sandi. "Glycerine Vs. Glycol. ”LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 22 June 2015, Available here. Accessed 30 August 2017

Again, very useful stuff.  Thanks.  Once we're done fiddling around with waxes, I'll start messing with fluids in a similar way.  What struck me there is the fact that glycerin is used as a preservative *and* it has a wayyyy higher density.  Really cool stuff.

I'm going in to the office today so won't have time to do pictures and stuff til I get home, but this is what's on deck for tonight:

Essentially, the purple is a combination of yesterdays, but with a touch more kerosene and perc to compensate.  This is the first one with petroleum jelly AND kerosene.  Stoked to try it.

The white is going to be an absolute mess, I can tell you already.  I wanted to see how much perc the wax could absorb and still remain... wax.  Notice the Perc/Paraffin ratio is 1:1 (the lower that number is, the more dense it is).  And I can say already that it's *far* too much perc.  It's like a pasty, almost petroleum jelly-like consistency.  It took forever to "solidify" if you can call it that, and actually when I poured the liquid in after letting it set a few hours, that small amount of water pressure was enough to rip it up.  But we'll run it anyway to see what happens.

Ok, home from work, so lets see what happens.  Start time 1:30

T+17 minutes, the purple has flipped its lid, and the solid left behind is creeping upwards.  Clearly its very light.

(those smears on the purple glass are on the outside, from the label not being peeled off cleanly)

The white, as expected, is a hot mess and basically already completely liquified and resting on the bottom, even with almost half of the liquid being PG.

I'll let these sit a few hours and see what happens.

Ok, after being on for 4 hours, this is the equilibrium they both reached.  Liquid on top, liquid on bottom.  Purple's too light, white is *way* too heavy.

Cool, failure is still useful.  Tomorrow, I am going to add some perc to purple (if anything just because I like the color and it'll be a decent lamp outside of this little endeavor).  I'm also going to combine the leftovers of my two white wax recipes (vanilla that I always make, and the heavy, pasty, sludgy stuff) into a new, blue formula.

The para/perc ratio is exactly inbetween the incredibly heavy stuff, and the normal stuff.  So we will see how that goes tomorrow!

This subject is something I've been interested in for some time now. I started a threat on figuring out the formula several years ago and never really followed through with it, but there is a lot of good information here. http://oozinggoo.ning.com/forum/topics/lets-figure-out-the-original

Some thoughts I had while working on my colossus lamp I documented here. I figured I'd add some things on my mind. It smells very similar to 90's era lava lamps. I have opened so many lamps I am really familiar with the smell. Weird I know, but I actually really like the smell of lava lamps. I have a feeling Lava Lite's liquid formula is almost certainly a mix of glycerin, propylene glycol, and water. The ratio is definitely close to 30% propylene glycol and 70% some ratio of water and surfactant based on my own experimentation. I think Mathmos uses a similar mixture.

As for the wax Mathmos lamps have a stretchier flow and the wax is slightly transparent. Lava Lite's wax is less stretchy and much more opaque. I think this difference either comes down to whatever is making the wax more opaque. Whether it is a crystalline wax, stearic acid, or the mix of the other chemicals I don't know.

If Lava Lite got their wax from Crayola I bet if you could track down the pigments they use you could replicate the original Lava Lite colors because I bet they got their pigments from them too. I bet they got their wax from Crayola due to the amount of wax they brought in was way higher than what Lava Lite was using and they had better economies of scale to transport it. They probably had a deal to buy pure paraffin wax from them.

In this video you can see they get tanks of paraffin by railway straight to their factory. Their pigment is out of a bag. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srAyApxoRDY

I doubt they use anything special for the majority of their colors. There are pigments like this that remind me of the Mathmos glitterball lamps.

https://www.amazon.com/Stardust-Micas-Cosmetic-Colorant-Consistency...

Sheperd Color provides Crayolas new blue color. They might be able to advise you on picking the best kind of pigment to use. https://www.shepherdcolor.com/products/classic/

Stearic Acid... now that's something I've never heard of.  Cool.

I messed around with trying to use pure crayon wax, and even tried thinning it with liquid paraffin and uh... I mean it LOOKS like the real deal when its melted.  Like if you melt it, then pipe it into a hot bottle full of liquid.  It straight up looks like 90's formula.

But it has some kind of hardening agent in it that makes it completely unsuitable for a number of reasons.

I THINK I am on the right track with using kerosene.  I too have opened older lamps, and immediately the smell was familiar.  Right now, in my preliminary experimentation, I am leaning towards my biggest issue being the Brakleen.  There has to be a better way to chlorinate wax.  Be cool if someone could hunt down a source that would sell consumer amounts instead of barrels.

Thanks for the leads, I'll keep this in my notes and read through what you've done.  I'm sure we can figure it out.

correct

Keith said:

Partial answer because I don't have the chemistry for it, kerosene can be used to help liquify the solid wax.  

Seems like pretty dangerous to try to chlorinate it yourself since it looks like it requires the use of chlorine gas. Probably better to buy it. There is someone in Russia selling some chlorinated paraffin on eBay right now.

Liquid

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Chlorinated-Paraffin-CP470-CP47-250ml-Samp...

Powder

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Chlorinated-Paraffin-CP66T-fine-powder-100...

I also found an interesting document all about chlorinated paraffins. You might be able to ask around the related industries that use them to see where they get it.


Ant Bee said:

I THINK I am on the right track with using kerosene.  I too have opened older lamps, and immediately the smell was familiar.  Right now, in my preliminary experimentation, I am leaning towards my biggest issue being the Brakleen.  There has to be a better way to chlorinate wax.  Be cool if someone could hunt down a source that would sell consumer amounts instead of barrels.

Thanks for the leads, I'll keep this in my notes and read through what you've done.  I'm sure we can figure it out.

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