Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hey everyone, so I watched a Mathmos documentary, and they showed a part of the manufacturing process after everything was bottled up where they submerge the bottled in hot water to separate the liquids and remove wax sticking from the glass. So I have a bottle that has this issue, and I  was wondering if anyone knew the temperature they heated the bottles up in that water treatment process.

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Yeah, I saw that same documentary and it made me rethink my process.  When they SPRAYED wax into those bottles, I thought "wait, that CAN'T be right..." because I am so ridiculously careful about getting even a drop of wax on the sides when I pour.

Now, it could just be that the quality of their surfactant (that they spray in the bottle beforehand) is so good that the wax isn't *actually* sticking to the glass, it just looks messy and they'd rather not ship them in that state.  Better "unboxing" experience when its all neatly melted into the bottom of the bottle.

But if I had to guess, I would say that it's probably just a touch below boiling.  Just before the water starts to create bubbles.  Because if you let it hit boiling, the wax tends to do this strange offgassing, and I have noticed that in this state, it's easy for the wax to find an air bubble on the glass and it will actually stick.

Also, I assume this is the video you're talking about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs-cOlrvNwI

Keep in mind that it looks like they do the hot water bath *before* the lid is completely screwed on.  If you heat a pre-capped bottle up too hot and too long, you may risk explosion.

The length of time is something I am not sure of, but I think Mathmos owners might be able to chime in.  When you buy a Mathmos lamp, does it have just one solid chunk at the bottom, or is there also a solidified top cap in there as well?

If the former, they don't leave them in very long, because it would actually "activate" in the bath, which would mean that a piece would float to the top, create a "cap" which would solidify and fall to the bottom during shipping.

If there's no solidified top cap, then I can only assume its in the bath just long enough for the side stuff to melt and fall to the bottom and rejoin the bottom blob.

I think this may be why US (china) lamps have such an issue with sticking- I wonder if this phase of bottling is skipped entirely or they just don't do it long enough.  I noticed that modern china lamps look like they pour the wax in a similar fashion as I do- which is using a long pipe to pour it directly into the bottom. (as opposed to Mathmos, who apparently just yeet it in there with a sprayer)

  It has a distinctive look, sort of "creeps" up the side.  When you heat it up and let it cool down, the bottom chunk sort of curls inwards, away from the glass.  Leads me to think that they aren't doing this step.

/rant

oh cool thanks!



Keith said:

Haha "just yeet it in there with a sprayer". Yeah, that's the video. I have two mathmos, but they're not the one with the issue. The problem lamp is the china lamp (Lava Lite). Although my astro does have a bit of residue on the side, but it isn't causing a problem and I dont want to risk a mathmos over a bit of residue 
Ant Bee said:

Also, I assume this is the video you're talking about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs-cOlrvNwI

Keep in mind that it looks like they do the hot water bath *before* the lid is completely screwed on.  If you heat a pre-capped bottle up too hot and too long, you may risk explosion.

The length of time is something I am not sure of, but I think Mathmos owners might be able to chime in.  When you buy a Mathmos lamp, does it have just one solid chunk at the bottom, or is there also a solidified top cap in there as well?

If the former, they don't leave them in very long, because it would actually "activate" in the bath, which would mean that a piece would float to the top, create a "cap" which would solidify and fall to the bottom during shipping.

If there's no solidified top cap, then I can only assume its in the bath just long enough for the side stuff to melt and fall to the bottom and rejoin the bottom blob.

I think this may be why US (china) lamps have such an issue with sticking- I wonder if this phase of bottling is skipped entirely or they just don't do it long enough.  I noticed that modern china lamps look like they pour the wax in a similar fashion as I do- which is using a long pipe to pour it directly into the bottom. (as opposed to Mathmos, who apparently just yeet it in there with a sprayer)

  It has a distinctive look, sort of "creeps" up the side.  When you heat it up and let it cool down, the bottom chunk sort of curls inwards, away from the glass.  Leads me to think that they aren't doing this step.

/rant

Several years back I did some experimenting with trying to fix wax sticking to the globes on Chinese made lamps. I was able to fix some, but not others. I tried several different things including acids, petrol products that dissolve waxes, and physical cleaning with brushes. It seems like part of the issue may be the quality of the glass. The coil is in the lamp to break the surface tension of the wax and my theory is some of the poorly made glass has a rough surface that causes the wax to want to stick to it. One thing I do know for sure is as long as you add some surfactant to a globe before putting the wax in there is basically no chance the wax is going to stick to the globe. Even in cases where I emptied out the liquid from my colossus lamp and the entire gallon of wax slid down the side of the glass leaving a big smear down the side once the lamp heated up the wax removed itself from the side of the globe without me having to do anything.

Yeah, I think you're probably close to the mark WRT the quality of glasses.  I have a giant blue milagro tequila bottle that I have been trying to make into a lamp for a while now, and I have done the same thing- acids, gasoline, all sorts of soaps, boiled it for hours... *nothing* makes the wax not stick to it.

Autumn said:

Several years back I did some experimenting with trying to fix wax sticking to the globes on Chinese made lamps. I was able to fix some, but not others. I tried several different things including acids, petrol products that dissolve waxes, and physical cleaning with brushes. It seems like part of the issue may be the quality of the glass. The coil is in the lamp to break the surface tension of the wax and my theory is some of the poorly made glass has a rough surface that causes the wax to want to stick to it. One thing I do know for sure is as long as you add some surfactant to a globe before putting the wax in there is basically no chance the wax is going to stick to the globe. Even in cases where I emptied out the liquid from my colossus lamp and the entire gallon of wax slid down the side of the glass leaving a big smear down the side once the lamp heated up the wax removed itself from the side of the globe without me having to do anything.

Last year we purchased an Astro orange wax yellow liquid bottle from Mathmos. Wax started sticking on the first run, it continued to stick after each run. So I held the bottle under the hot water tap to acclimatise the liquid ready for a stint in a tap water hot bucket of water. Some of the small bits of wax fell off, the larger ones came off with a twist of the bottle. However on the next run the bottle started to stick again and has become worse with each run since. The bottle was replaced, the second one did the same thing, but it was the same batch number on the cap. It was replaced again and the third bottle runs ok, but it's a different batch number on the lid. 

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