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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So in layman's terms I think I get the following benefits.

  1. It reduces the master fluid expansion so the density of the master fluid is more consistent at the resting and operating temperature range.
  2. It makes the master fluid react slower to changes in the external environment.
  3. It provides germicidal properties to the master fluid.

I think I'm going to iterate on my master fluid formula now that I have some sodium lauryl sulfate. I think the Triton X100(polyethylene glycol tert-octylphenyl ether) at 1/2 of a teaspoon is too much. The liquid clouds very easily when the lamp is moved around. I also noticed it does not fully prevent wax from sticking. Looking at the earlier posts it looks like maybe a combination of Triton X100 and sodium lauryl sulfate was used. Their combined properties are probably beneficial over only using one or the other.

So my next question is what is the difference between sodium lauryl sulfate and magnesium lauryl sulfate? I cannot find magnesium lauryl sulfate anywhere. Is sodium lauryl sulfate an acceptable substitute? Why are there potentially 3 surfactants in this formula?

Breaking down the liquid formula in this document we have the following ingredients.

  • Water
    • Main carrier fluid.
  • Tetrasodium Ethylenediaminetetraacetic
    • Prevents rusting of the coil?
  • hydrochloric acid
    • Probably used to drop the PH so the Tetrasodium Ethylenediaminetetraacetic is within it's required PH range to work properly.
  • Polyethylene Glycol
    • Looks like it is used to modify density. Probably is more stable than glycerol.
    • Temperature regulation.
    • Anti bacterial properties.
  • Methyl Paraben
    • Anti fungal agent.
  • polyethylene glycol tert-octylphenyl ether
    • Possibly used as a surfactant?
  • Magnesium Lauryl Sulfate
    • Surfactant.
  • Alcohols c10-16 ethoxylated
    • Another surfactant? Why 3 surfactants? Is this just taking into account the ethoxylation of the magnesium lauryl sulfate.



Tevfik Dogruman said:

I found these data from technical books.

 

Volume expansion coefficient of paraffin wax

Paraffin wax is a phase-changing material that significantly increases in volume while transitioning from solid to liquid. ...

For example, the paraffin wax (SIGMA-ALDRICH paraffin wax mp 58–62 ° C) used in this publication shows an expansion of free volume of about 15% at 75 ° C compared to 25 ° C.

Water shows an expansion of free volume of about 2.39% at 75 ° C compared to 25 ° C.

Therefore paraffin floats.

 

The higher the heat conduction coefficient, the more heat conduction.

 

Unlike water, propylene glycol has a lower heat capacity. This means it accumulates less heat and hence will give less.

 

Propylene glycol is a germicide approximately equal to ethanol. It stops the growth of microorganisms in solutions. Generally, the desired effect is achieved with a concentration in the range of 15-30%.


Autumn said:

Do you know why propylene glycol was part of the older formulas? Was it just for it's properties of lowering the freezing temperature? Any thoughts as to why they would have been balancing their lamps for 1.038 specific gravity vs something closer to 1 like they do now?

Three can be surfactant, with water and oil balance, to ensure emulsion stability. It can also be for the raising of cloud point (HLB) value.

Magnesium laureth sulfate is the magnesium salt of laureth sulfate, which is in turn the ester of laureth and sulfuric acid. It is used mainly in the chemical industry for the preparation of specialized shampoos for people of delicate skin. It works even in hard water.

EXOsoft MG is a mild anionic surfactant that belongs to the group of alkyl ether sulphates with the name defined by INCI as Magnesium Laureth Sulfate. The commercial product is offered as an approx. 25% solution of active substance in the form of colourless or light yellow liquid. EXOsoft MG shows high solubility in water. The product is preserved with MIT.

EXOsoft MG has foaming, cleaning and emulsifying properties. The product is widely used in the cosmetics industry to produce cleaning and body care preparations. As it is more gentle to skin than SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) and SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), the product may be a perfect alternative to hair shampoos, products for washing face, body and hair, bath foams, hand washing liquids and showers gels. The preparations including EXOsoft MG are especially recommended for people with sensitive skin.

When compared with sodium salt, EXOsoft MG generates more stable foams and ensures better solubility in oils. The product is applied in the formulations characterized by neutral or slightly acidic pH. It may be concentrated using sodium chloride. The product is biodegradable.

The cloud point of a nonionic surfactant (triton x-100, C10-C12 Alcohol) or glycol solution is the temperature at which the mixture starts to phase-separate, and two phases appear, thus becoming cloudy. ... The cloud point is affected by salinity, being generally lower in more saline fluids.

A sharp rise in cloud point of aqueous solutions of Triton X-100 occurs with increasing surfactant concentration beyond 4%.

The hydrophile-lipophile balance (HLB) number is used as a measure of the ratio of these groups. It is a value between 0-60 defining the affinity of a surfactant for water or oil. HLB numbers are calculated for nonionic surfactants, and these surfactants have numbers ranging from 0-20.

The nonionic surfactants Triton X 100 and Triton X 114 form isotropic micellar solutions around 25°C. One of the characteristic features of these solutions is the fact that at higher temperatures they undergo clouding and liquid-liquid phase separation.

 

SLS or SLES are anionic surfactants. Magnesium laureth sulfate same them.

 

The HLB value of SLS is 40. So, it is more appropriate to be used in oil/water emulsions.


Autumn said:

So in layman's terms I think I get the following benefits.

  1. It reduces the master fluid expansion so the density of the master fluid is more consistent at the resting and operating temperature range.
  2. It makes the master fluid react slower to changes in the external environment.
  3. It provides germicidal properties to the master fluid.

I think I'm going to iterate on my master fluid formula now that I have some sodium lauryl sulfate. I think the Triton X100(polyethylene glycol tert-octylphenyl ether) at 1/2 of a teaspoon is too much. The liquid clouds very easily when the lamp is moved around. I also noticed it does not fully prevent wax from sticking. Looking at the earlier posts it looks like maybe a combination of Triton X100 and sodium lauryl sulfate was used. Their combined properties are probably beneficial over only using one or the other.

So my next question is what is the difference between sodium lauryl sulfate and magnesium lauryl sulfate? I cannot find magnesium lauryl sulfate anywhere. Is sodium lauryl sulfate an acceptable substitute? Why are there potentially 3 surfactants in this formula?

Tev,

We are but simple enthusiasts. Let me see if I got this:

- SLS, SLES and Magnesium laureth sulfate (I will call it MLES) have similar anionic surfactant properties (IE they all work for lamps)

- MLES has got a soft touch for all your sensitive parts, but the lamp probably doesn't care

—MLES can be bought as EXOsoft MG (if anyone wants to try it. comes with a preservative)

- SLS is the best choice for avoiding cloudy water

Precisely!

BR4X said:

Tev,

We are but simple enthusiasts. Let me see if I got this:

- SLS, SLES and Magnesium laureth sulfate (I will call it MLES) have similar anionic surfactant properties (IE they all work for lamps)

- MLES has got a soft touch for all your sensitive parts, but the lamp probably doesn't care

—MLES can be bought as EXOsoft MG (if anyone wants to try it. comes with a preservative)

- SLS is the best choice for avoiding cloudy water

Tevfik,

I'm not sure I can purchase EXOsoft MG directly or any other pure form of MLES without going to a manufacturer in China and ordering it in a 55 gallon barrel drum. There is a product in the US that is easily available and has a mix of SLES and MLES and some other things.

662299: Water, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Laureth-8 Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Allantoin, Magnesium Laureth-8 Sulfate, Magnesium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Oleth Sulfate, Magnesium Oleth Sulfate, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance, F.I.L. # B4853/1.

Do you see any potential issues with what is listed here?

https://www.amazon.com/LOreal-Paris-Artiste-Makeup-Remover/dp/B004G...

I think what Tez is saying is to use the SLS. So thats a relief.

I think the problem is with the Triton X100.. shit is weak

Hi Autumn,

it is evening and I am finally at home.
I think there is no need to use Magnesium laureth sulfate. I think SLES is enough. I'm just using sles and I'm very satisfied. For Magnesium laureth sulfate and SLES I recommend "TEXAPON® ASV 50". Because I don't think commercially for lava lamps that I try to do as a hobby. I use what will work instead of cheap material. Most importantly, I could find in Turkey.
This weekend I will try to make a glitter lamp for the first time.

Autumn said:

Tevfik,

I'm not sure I can purchase EXOsoft MG directly or any other pure form of MLES without going to a manufacturer in China and ordering it in a 55 gallon barrel drum. There is a product in the US that is easily available and has a mix of SLES and MLES and some other things.

Attachments:

I think some of my newer no-name chinese lamps use kerosene. one of them leaked slightly a while ago and it had a very distinct sort of petroleum/gas smell that I think is kerosene.

It's been a while since I posted any updates. I have been talking to AntBee and Tevfik individually while figuring out how to jump into the mix and start testing formulas myself. Thanks to them I've had a head start and was able to successfully make a lamp of my own and contribute to the overall knowledge base. I didn't want to post anything until I had a working lamp. This lamp doesn't run like I'd like to, but it does work. My next lamp will be made with 60% chlorinated paraffin which may be a game changer. We will see.

So to start off I have uploaded all of my documents here. These are available to the public and anyone can see them.

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1PfGMNPXgC8NzU7Wli5aqHto...

The main 2 documents that are of importance if you want to follow along with my progress if the formulas sheet I put together by grabbing AntBee's and Tevfiks formulas. I also iterated on Tevfiks density calculator which has greatly reduced my trial and error getting balances right.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KVck9CWQj3tfQXR5C5eE-CFjwad...

The other document is my Lava Lamp Formula Research document which tracks each attempt I have made at making a lava lamp. This is the document I am primarily working from so if you scroll to the bottom you can see where I am at with the project.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nZCHLV5-GayA83oWkdMKBTB3u1zf_FP...

Some key takeaways from my experience so far:

  1. These chemicals are not to be played around with. You can really make yourself sick off of some of the more dangerous chemicals like perchloroethylene. Too much exposure is known to cause cancer. People don't normally come into contact with these chemicals as much as you will while making a lava lamp. Take precautions. You have been warned. Don't sue me or anyone else on this site because you were recklessly handling chemicals.
  2. To answer the original question in this thread for those who are looking we have determined kerosene is used to bind other ingredients to the paraffin wax. Over the years kerosene was phased out for a low odor base solvent. Not sure exactly how to source this solvent, but it is a different kind of kerosene with a CAS number of 64742-96-7 and is listed as SOLVENT NAPHTHA (PETROLEUM), HEAVY ALIPH.; STRAIGHT RUN KEROSINE.
  3. Buy a heated stirrer. It makes things so much easier and you don't have to contaminate your kitchen.
  4. Opacity. I seem to have inadvertently figured this out with the dye I bought. By simply mixing in white dye it turns opaque. This may not be a huge mystery after all.
  5. 71% chlorinated paraffin has not worked for me. Not sure what needs to be done to make it work, but it melts at 190F, is incredibly sticky, and does not want to form a solution with the rest of the formula.
  6. The correct difference between a good density balance and a bad one can be as little as .1% difference in densities between the master fluid and the wax.
  7. Some of the ingredients are only purchasable through specialty shops. Chlorinated paraffins are incredibly difficult to find. I provided links to where I get all of my ingredients.
  8. The total paraffin waxes needs to be about 50% of the total mixture. Anything less and the formula gets mushy.
  9. If the wax isn't sticking to the coil your wax isn't dense enough.
  10. 160 grams of wax mixture fills a 20oz lamp, 
  11. 220 grams of wax mixture fills a 32oz lamp.
  12. 800ML of master fluid mixture fills a 32oz lamp and accounts for spilling.
  13. Adjusting for density while the lamp is running should be done at max temperature. That is usually around 130F. This can only be done when adjusting only requires a few ML of fluid exchange. Anything else and the wax will get stirred up.
  14. And lastly the standard paraffin wax+microcrystalline wax+mineral oil+perc mixture will likely never be enough to replicate Mathmos or Lava Lite quality flow. There is something more to it than just that and I'm hoping it is chlorinated paraffin.

A very nice sharing Autumn.

 

My philosophy:

Knowledge develops as it is shared, If you keep the knowledge to yourself, knowledge will die with you.


Autumn said:

It's been a while since I posted any updates. I have been talking to AntBee and Tevfik individually while figuring out how to jump into the mix and start testing formulas myself. Thanks to them I've had a head start and was able to successfully make a lamp of my own and contribute to the overall knowledge base. I didn't want to post anything until I had a working lamp. This lamp doesn't run like I'd like to, but it does work. My next lamp will be made with 60% chlorinated paraffin which may be a game changer. We will see.

So to start off I have uploaded all of my documents here. These are available to the public and anyone can see them.

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1PfGMNPXgC8NzU7Wli5aqHto...

The main 2 documents that are of importance if you want to follow along with my progress if the formulas sheet I put together by grabbing AntBee's and Tevfiks formulas. I also iterated on Tevfiks density calculator which has greatly reduced my trial and error getting balances right.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KVck9CWQj3tfQXR5C5eE-CFjwad...

The other document is my Lava Lamp Formula Research document which tracks each attempt I have made at making a lava lamp. This is the document I am primarily working from so if you scroll to the bottom you can see where I am at with the project.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nZCHLV5-GayA83oWkdMKBTB3u1zf_FP...

Some key takeaways from my experience so far:

  1. These chemicals are not to be played around with. You can really make yourself sick off of some of the more dangerous chemicals like perchloroethylene. Too much exposure is known to cause cancer. People don't normally come into contact with these chemicals as much as you will while making a lava lamp. Take precautions. You have been warned. Don't sue me or anyone else on this site because you were recklessly handling chemicals.
  2. To answer the original question in this thread for those who are looking we have determined kerosene is used to bind other ingredients to the paraffin wax. Over the years kerosene was phased out for a low odor base solvent. Not sure exactly how to source this solvent, but it is a different kind of kerosene with a CAS number of 64742-96-7 and is listed as SOLVENT NAPHTHA (PETROLEUM), HEAVY ALIPH.; STRAIGHT RUN KEROSINE.
  3. Buy a heated stirrer. It makes things so much easier and you don't have to contaminate your kitchen.
  4. Opacity. I seem to have inadvertently figured this out with the dye I bought. By simply mixing in white dye it turns opaque. This may not be a huge mystery after all.
  5. 71% chlorinated paraffin has not worked for me. Not sure what needs to be done to make it work, but it melts at 190F, is incredibly sticky, and does not want to form a solution with the rest of the formula.
  6. The correct difference between a good density balance and a bad one can be as little as .1% difference in densities between the master fluid and the wax.
  7. Some of the ingredients are only purchasable through specialty shops. Chlorinated paraffins are incredibly difficult to find. I provided links to where I get all of my ingredients.
  8. The total paraffin waxes needs to be about 50% of the total mixture. Anything less and the formula gets mushy.
  9. If the wax isn't sticking to the coil your wax isn't dense enough.
  10. 160 grams of wax mixture fills a 20oz lamp, 
  11. 220 grams of wax mixture fills a 32oz lamp.
  12. 800ML of master fluid mixture fills a 32oz lamp and accounts for spilling.
  13. Adjusting for density while the lamp is running should be done at max temperature. That is usually around 130F. This can only be done when adjusting only requires a few ML of fluid exchange. Anything else and the wax will get stirred up.
  14. And lastly the standard paraffin wax+microcrystalline wax+mineral oil+perc mixture will likely never be enough to replicate Mathmos or Lava Lite quality flow. There is something more to it than just that and I'm hoping it is chlorinated paraffin.

I just started attempts to make my own lava lamp today. definitely a project best done outside or in a suitable fume hood. when heated the PERC fumes a ton, and it can get a bit messy too. 

first attempt stuck to the glass a ton, but I think i just didn't have as much SURF as i needed.

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