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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AND CRAYONS!



Tevfik Dogruman said:

I watched the video. I'm thinking. They were not added surfactant directly to the wax. Not foamy liquid wax.

Ant Bee said:

Yes you're right- too much (and I think I used too much here but this was just a "see what happens" thing) and it will emulsify.

But re-watching the old video from the 90's, I am quite convinced that they were added surfactant directly to the wax:

https://youtu.be/EG8IV43DkOE?t=38

Notice how the tanks of how wax have foam on the top?  I have never seen that before when making my waxes- and now that I have my SLS-added formula on the stove, it's foaming on top!

I've been working with Antbee on this for a while now. We have put together a list of possible ingredients. I'll copy directly from my notes so excuse the formatting.

1 Chlorinated Paraffin around 72% chlorination. Solid not liquid
2 Fully refined slack/scale Paraffin Wax with less than 5% oil content and a melting point of 120F
3 Liquid Paraffin - Mineral oil. Don't know why
4 Kerosene - 10-20% of total mix. Used as a binding agent to make sure the chlorinated paraffin and paraffin wax bind properly
5 Microcrystalline wax from multiwax (sonnborn) with a low melting point. Makes the wax stretchier
6 petroleum jelly?

7 Water
8 SLS / or Triton x100
9 propylene glycol
10 coloring

One thing to note about this list is we 100% confirmed that Sonnborn was the brand of microcrystalline wax Lava Lite used in the 90's.

Interesting that in your documents that they are using triton x100 and a lauryl sulfate. I'm still waiting on my sodium lauryl sulfate to arrive, but I have had good luck with just water, glycerin, propylene glycol, and triton x100. It runs crystal clear up to a point where it clouds heavily. I don't know if it happens no matter what or if it happens from running the lamps for too long and it reaches a cloud point at a specific temperature. Really need to figure this one out. Looking at your documents I am wondering if magnesium lauryl sulfate is also used to increase density.

Here is what I have found to work with 90s era lamps. Both mixes are around 1.0396 specific gravity. I try to keep them slightly less dense so I can add glycerin to get the density perfect. The lamps can vary slightly so there is no way to create a perfect batch that works for all lamps.

87% water

13% glycerin

1/2 teaspoon of triton x-100

68% water

25% propylene glycol

7% glycerol

1/2 teaspoon of triton x-100

We also discovered that it is important to slowly heat up the wax mixture above operating temperature and then slowly cool it back down. This gives the microcrystalline wax time to recrystallize properly. We don't yet know the right temperature and time required though. In my testing I found that chunky looking wax is likely wax that has had microcrystalline wax start to separate for some reason. Heating it up to about 180F seems to be a good point to cause it to reform with the paraffin wax and the wax looks consistent again.

The chlorination rate of the chlorinated paraffin is also important. It is likely in the 70% or higher range. This is mentioned in the original Crestworth patents.

Kerosene is likely used to bind the chlorinated paraffin to the microcrystalline wax.

Document on recrystallizaiton

2.1_%20RECRYSTALLIZATION%20-%20Chemistry%20LibreTexts.pdf

Crestworth patents. Goes into detail about what kind of chlorinated paraffin. Take note of some of the highly cancerous ingredients that were used back then. I wonder if Edward Craven Walkers cancer was due to his exposure to them.

Crestworth%20patent%20GB1034255A.pdf

Crestworth%20patent%20GB1168625A.pdf

Magma Tower patents. Explains how they measure density and their process for making their wax.

magma%20tower%20patent%202.pdf

magma%20tower%20patent%20with%20formula%20and%20process%202.pdf

magma%20tower%20patent%20with%20formula%20and%20process.pdf

magma%20tower%20patent.pdf

US%20Patent%20for%20Liquid%20motion%20lamp%20Patent%20%28Patent%20%...

I think where most people fail at tackling this is access to some of the ingredients used. Chlorinated paraffin is not easy to find. Neither is slack/scale wax. I'm not even 100% sure what that is and if it cannot be substituted for fully refined paraffin. I've been waiting to see what Antbees results are with the stuff before I try to source it myself and have focused my efforts on finding a working master fluid.

The weekend did two studies. Most importantly, I could not highlight the green color exactly. When the wax melts with the effect of light, the green color looks red. I finally made it. The other problem was opacity, I also managed that.
I made the right side lamp with liquid Paraffin (Mineral oil) 35g, Solid paraffin 25g, kerosene 4g, perc 45g and dye (pebeo oil paint-green) 1.5g. There were no snaky movements. I set it aside. In the new one, I used Microcrystalline wax instead of paraffin. Seeing in the picture is your appreciation.
In what I set aside, I added 35g of natural beeswax (Yellow) and 16g of kerosene. Both of them have been working for 4 hours.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYZeQFRQBY0

The liquid part is pure water, glycerin and sles.

To my eye, the one on the left looks better.  You say you used oil paint?  Funny, I was going to purchase some from the art store on Friday, unfortunately they closed early..

I don't think you want to throw Alcohol in the mix, for the simple reason that its suuuuper light compared to water.  You'll end up compensating with a lot more PG/Glycerin, which as Autumn and I have found will cause clouding when the lamp heats.

Just don't go crazy with the micro- that stuff has a very high melting point and once you start hitting ratios of 30% micro to 70% paraffin (even accounting for other additives like LP and kerosene) you'll find that the lamp will have a hell of a time re-melting after the initial eruption.

Yes bro, i am a chemical engineer.

BR4X said:

roger. the bees wax could offer the best of both worlds. the gold lamp is a project of mine as it would be very rare. I was going to send this in a PM but it isn't available:

____________________________________

Ant and Tev

I have read most all of your posts and found you to be the most helpful. Ant, your scientific method is notable and worth appreciation. Tev, you got a little chemist in you don't you buddy.

Very few people have successfully created wax but beyond that, you two are starting to figure out what is behind the "magic". very impressive! 

ps. I don't mean to come off like an ass, and I will always share. just having a bit of fun.

The clear master fluid is simply distilled water and surfercant (the base chemical for making soap, detergent or shampoo). I prefer SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate).

Hexane is an organic substance like kerosene. It not will eat the wax and coil?

“Surface force” is surface tension.         

BR4X said:

I keep thinking of the blob vs. stretch problem. We are pretty good at creating blobs, but not the stretchy effect. We found that thinner lava works, surf works, viscosity vs. hydrostatic pressure was notable. I think we missed a force, I think surface tension makes the blobs tend toward a perfect sphere because a sphere contains volume with the least surface area.

tev, 

can you help me out here. We had the list of ingredients that you broke down from the lava company (this would be the master fluid, not lava). Do any of them seem like they would reduce this type of surface charge/ force? Or tell me I’m crazy. Go turn on your stretchy-est lamp, doesn’t it look like it wants to stretch out instead of tighten up? Surface force (I don’t know the right name)

Greg (my bud) thinks hexane.. but will it eat the wax / coil? Haven’t looked into it yet.. that list though lol

I have been busy.. just some night time thoughts

BR4X,

Metallic pigment that is of the smallest particle size is probably what you need. You aren't the first person to attempt this and Claude has figured this out already, but he hasn't shared his discovery. Others like Dr. What?! tried using sharpies, but after many runs the metallic flakes fall to the bottom of the wax and stop flowing.

When you buy things like bottle sealing waxes you are just buying a wax with some kind of pigment added to it. Try this.

https://www.paintwithpearl.com/shop-custom-paint/metal-candy-pearl-...

You could also email the vendor and ask them what they recommend.

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?

Tevfik Dogruman said:

The clear master fluid is simply distilled water and surfercant (the base chemical for making soap, detergent or shampoo). I prefer SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate).

Hexane is an organic substance like kerosene. It not will eat the wax and coil?

“Surface force” is surface tension.         

BR4X said:

I keep thinking of the blob vs. stretch problem. We are pretty good at creating blobs, but not the stretchy effect. We found that thinner lava works, surf works, viscosity vs. hydrostatic pressure was notable. I think we missed a force, I think surface tension makes the blobs tend toward a perfect sphere because a sphere contains volume with the least surface area.

tev, 

can you help me out here. We had the list of ingredients that you broke down from the lava company (this would be the master fluid, not lava). Do any of them seem like they would reduce this type of surface charge/ force? Or tell me I’m crazy. Go turn on your stretchy-est lamp, doesn’t it look like it wants to stretch out instead of tighten up? Surface force (I don’t know the right name)

Greg (my bud) thinks hexane.. but will it eat the wax / coil? Haven’t looked into it yet.. that list though lol

I have been busy.. just some night time thoughts

Check out this patent.   https://patents.google.com/patent/US3570156A/en

"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."



Autumn said:

Do you know why propylene glycol was part of the older formulas? Was it just for it's properties of raising 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?

Tevfik Dogruman said:

The clear master fluid is simply distilled water and surfercant (the base chemical for making soap, detergent or shampoo). I prefer SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate).

Hexane is an organic substance like kerosene. It not will eat the wax and coil?

“Surface force” is surface tension.         

BR4X said:

I keep thinking of the blob vs. stretch problem. We are pretty good at creating blobs, but not the stretchy effect. We found that thinner lava works, surf works, viscosity vs. hydrostatic pressure was notable. I think we missed a force, I think surface tension makes the blobs tend toward a perfect sphere because a sphere contains volume with the least surface area.

tev, 

can you help me out here. We had the list of ingredients that you broke down from the lava company (this would be the master fluid, not lava). Do any of them seem like they would reduce this type of surface charge/ force? Or tell me I’m crazy. Go turn on your stretchy-est lamp, doesn’t it look like it wants to stretch out instead of tighten up? Surface force (I don’t know the right name)

Greg (my bud) thinks hexane.. but will it eat the wax / coil? Haven’t looked into it yet.. that list though lol

I have been busy.. just some night time thoughts

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?

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