Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hi everybody! I'm an italian guy so sorry for my BAD english!

However, a week ago I received my first Lava Lamp that I ordered on Amazon.uk...And it arrived with the original bulb broken, but I know that it's not so uncommon that it happens. The problem is that I don't know anything about bulbs...the only thing that I knew is that I had to buy a 35w bulb (as the original one).

So I bought this two bulbs from Philips, but I don't know if they're right. In fact, one of them is a 28w->35w , the other one is a 42w -> 55w. They're both "globe" bulbs, not "flat" bulbs as the original one!

My first question is: what means the first and the second value? What is the one that I have to looking for?

Anyway, I tried first the 28w. The result was quite strange, I saw on the Internet the image about what happens when the lamp gets overheated, i.e. there is no lava on the top at all and there is only one big bubble on the bottom. But here it is the strange thing: sometimes, REEEEALLY slowly a big bubble was created and get on the middle of the lamp, then fall down again. Rarely, two bubbles was created in the same way (obviously smaller). Unfortunately I didn't take any picture of this! I used the 28w for 3/4 days.

Then, I tried with the 42w, and finally the lava became more fluid and it worked properly...but I think that it gets a little overheated, in fact after some hours the bubbles becomes a little too small and some of them goes on the top (but not so much). I think (but again, I'm totally new to this world!) that it gets a little too much hot.

Here it is a picture of the stalactites formed at the beggining:

And this is a picture in full activity:

As you can see there is no BIG bubble, and there are too much little bubbles (and so I think that it is a little overheated).

So my second question is: what do you think about these picture? is it look good to you?

What I'm worried about is that I turn off the lamp, two little bubbles are on the bottom of the lamp, here it is a picture of them:

My third question: is it that normal? I have to worry about it?

Last strange thing: now I'm trying to use the 28w again, but NOTHING is happening! The lava moved a little on the bottom, but nothing more (let's say it's "leaning" a little bit).

My fourth and last question: why this is happening? Why the 28w doesn't work anymore? My next move will be to use the 42w until the lava flow and then (while it's still hot) change the bulb and use the 28w (and see what happens). What do you think about this "strategy"? :P

Anyway I REALLY want to thank all of you that will answer to my questions and will try to help me, and all the community to have created this WONDERFUL forum!

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Hello Luca, welcome to OG!

I live in the US and run an older 90's Astro, stock with UK 240v wiring and 240v bulbs. I know my lamp requires the use of a 40w SES E14 bulb in order to run properly. This is the standard bulb that came with the Astro in the past and I do believe it is still the bulb used in new lamps. Some have said that they changed the bulb over to a halogen based bulb but I am not certain.

The picture of your lamp flowing looks to be spot on with proper operation, though the others lend me the idea that it may not be getting hot enough with the bulbs you are using. When a lamp overheats the lava typically collects towards the top of the globe and is either very slow to descend back down or will not drop at all. Our China-made Lava Lamp counterparts are known to disconnect from the coil and float/hover at the bottom, SOMETIMES being an issue of overheat, but usually just a sign of bad quality. You will know if your lamp has a disconnecting coil issue when you carefully lift the globe out of the base while it is at full heat and the metal coil at the bottom is devoid of any wax.

The images you posted showing the bubbles of wax at the bottom hint that the wax itself is not getting to a full molten stage and is hardening slightly causing it to retain the sphere shape. I would dump the use of the 23w bulbs and go for a straight 40w SES E14 bulb.

Other members please chime in if they believe the bulb setup in this lamp may be a different wattage halogen or the likes.

EDIT: I checked amazon.co.uk and don't see any listings for Mathmos Astro lamps, could this have been a third party seller on Amazon? Perhaps a used lamp? You mention that it came with a flat bulb and that seems off to what style mine runs. Perhaps if the lamp was used the seller included the wrong bulb? I have added a picture of the bulb that my Astro uses. Again, maybe Mathmos changed the bulb style with a halogen changeover?

Thanks so much for your reply!

EDIT: I checked amazon.co.uk and don't see any listings for Mathmos Astro lamps, could this have been a third party seller on Amazon? Perhaps a used lamp? You mention that it came with a flat bulb and that seems off to what style mine runs. Perhaps if the lamp was used the seller included the wrong bulb? I have added a picture of the bulb that my Astro uses. Again, maybe Mathmos changed the bulb style with a halogen changeover?

Sorry, I explained it really bad: I bought it on amazon.it but from the "mathmo's official store" on amazon.it. Here it is the link:


Anyway the original bulb is a 35w and it is flat! This is a picture of the originally (broken) bulb:

And these are the specs on the bulb (as you can see it is a 35w):

The bulbs that I bought are globe bulbs, not the original one!

Anyway this is a picture that I've just token from the 28w (finally the lava melted!):

As you can see there is this "super column" that turns in a "single mega bubble", and the process is EXTREMELY SLOW! 

As you suggested, I will try to use only the 40w! After all, as suggested on the product instruction, the lamp goes in full activity after 4-5 usage!

I will post you new pics soon ;)

Welcome to OG. We call that 'snaking' in the picture above. it is a nice watch and occurs when the lamp is running fairly perfectly. Sometimes snaking can intersperse with traditional bubbling as well.

Hello Luca!

Its an easy problem to fix. Indeed its a problem with the correct bulb you have to use! But its a little bit tricky to get it (the bulb i mean) ...

What most non-european people don't know,is the fact that standard light bulbs were banned by our great european government (a bunch of overpaid lobbyists). They did so for environmental protection, because standard light bulbs are so ineffective and turn to much energy into heat (hey you stupids - heat is what a real goohead wants!!!) . Instead they force the people by law to buy energy saving bulbs - which costs a lot more (and make the industry earn more money - what a damn conspiracy).

But back to topic:

This is why new Mathmos lamps will be sold with a 35w halogen reflector. Unfortunately i hear people say, this type of bulbs are not as good as the classic 40w SES E14 bulb (i never tried it). But DON´T PANIC  , new Astros are fully compatible with old bulbs and the other good thing is that old bulbs that are in stock are allowed to sale until there are no more available. And there are A LOT IN STOCK !!! At least in Germany, because Germans LOVE their old bulbs and HATE the new energy savers.

So my advice: look at ebay.de and get a box of classic 40w SES E14 NON-HALOGEN bulbs. If you use your lava often (like i do) such a bulb will burn up after one year. I got a box of 40! bulbs for my two Astros and price will drop if you buy more bulbs at once.

One last remark: the two "globe" bulbs you use are no classic light bulbs but instead halogens with a glass globe around them to make them look like old ones. First watt-number is the real energy output, second what it looks like compared to classic bulbs. So 28w real output is definitely to weak to power your Astro. 42w will work, 35w reflector halogen, too , but i prefer the classic 40w light bulb (look at VOXuls post).

Hope this info will help you.

Oh, what i forgot: if the lava flows like on your second picture (let me guess - it moves very fast?) its ok but if there are some "micro bubbles" (very,very tiny bubbles) you should turn it off and let it cool down. I run my Astro about 4-6 hours depending on what temperature my room has and its place (cold wall) and then it moves faster as hotter it gets. And don't mind the small bubbles after cooling down, sometimes some wax sticks at the top of the lamp and falls down - it will be melted again.

Just look at the smooth flow of an Astro after 3 1/2 hours (uhh i like the mathmos formula  ):


What about a dimmer?  You can dial in the flow you like.....I don't own any mathmos lamps so don' t know if this would be useful or not....

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