Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Water replacement for new Lava brand lamp - is salt needed?


I have an almost new Lava brand 16.3" lamp, with purple liquid and yellow wax.

When I received it I was pleased that the liquid wasn't cloudy like some of the really bad examples i'd seen photos of, but over time I've been getting frustrated with how dark the purple fluid is, and when heated it's not exactly cloudy but also not perfectly clear. It's almost like there's microscopic particles of something in it which block the light, and also make it harder to see the wax.

I want to try keeping the wax, but replacing the water. I've read in various places that one needs distilled water, epsom salts, and a few drops of clear dish detergent, but then I've also read that modern Lava brand lamps have wax already formulated to match the density of water so salt is not needed.

Can anyone confirm this?


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Hello, I could chime in here. I have opened and tweaked plenty of China lamps in recent years. The chemical makeup of these Schylling brand lamps are far far different from original USA lavas. With that being said, replacing the fluids was always a much easier and less stressful experience than doing so with USA lamps. I would refill the globes with just distilled water and the wax would move. Adding salt to China lamps never seems to go well since the coil corrodes quicker, and in my own experience, the liquid has a huge risk of clouding with that. My epsom salt lamps would always have little particles floating (similar to what you describe here). Dish detergent is necessary to adjust the flow too. In your case, I would keep the original fluids, but test out using distilled water with different amounts of detergent. This way you can keep experimenting until satisfaction is achieved. From there you can add food colorings for the master fluid (you can find more discussion regarding food coloring on the site). If this does not work for you, you may be able to filter the original master fluid to reduce the fogginess, but that method should be saved for last. If there is one nice thing about China lamps, it is that the master fluid is feasible to replace.

NEVER EVER,.. Use salt

That's for high school experiments

It corrodes the coil, damages the wax, and is corrosive

If you actually need to adjust the specific gravity (flotation) of a lava lamp, use propylene glycol readily available online or at any local veterinarian or farm supply store
Like Kyle said the new cost-effective china formula uses chlorinated paraffin for adjusting density of the wax and will float with just distilled water

Thanks! I'll try with plain distilled water then. I was going to use Dawn dish soap as the surfactant. It's blue but i think a few drops will be so dilute that it will be effectively colorless.

Dawn is ONLY to be used for cleaning the globe prior to adding a SURFACENT

Also, if you use it to clean the globe rinse it thoroughly., It has grease-cutting chemicals to it and will not work properly as a surfactant
You can always use something like this in a pinch but buying SLS is your best bet
If you can't find this particular brand, use any clear hand soap with little to no additives 

Phew, thanks! I assumed the job of the surfactant was just to lower the water surface tension and that any detergent would do!

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