Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I have a lamp that I bought off of ebay about a month ago. When it arrived the wax looked as if it had been shipped hot. Ever since the fluid has cleared up but the wax is extremely bubbly. It seems to get better with time but then it will get worse again. I was wondering what causes this (the bubbles) and what would be the best remedy? Thanks for your input!!

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i bet it was the soap.  i added too much and it became frothy.

i'm still not sure about what causes the bubbles in wax.  let this thread serve as a place to propose and test theories! 

Ben said:

I suspect the water in the bubbles has been heated at the bottom and can't cool off as easily when trapped in a bubble.  My p/y colossus was doing that.  It looked like a Galileo thermometer; the bubbles would just hang there forever.  

I also have a '73 aristocrat that wasn't bubbly until I changed the fluid.  It gets to the point that it almost looks like green foam, but the flow is still great.  I'm wondering if it's the dish soap I used for surfactant.  I used Joy soap.  Someday when I break down and buy a hydrometer I'll swap the fluid again and use a different soap to see what difference that makes.  

I think it was the soap, too, but I only used a portion of one drop dissolved in distilled water, so i doubt I overdid it. Someday I'll put in new water/salt again with some goo kit surfactant instead, unless someone else has a better idea.

Erin said:

Anyone ever get any resolution with this? I've got a couple of lavas that are really bubbly. I know it can't be heat (in my case) as I have one that does it in the first 30 mins. And I know it can't be the wax being shot since it hasn't been run that much.

Your wax is melting in 30 minutes? That sounds like you might be running it a bit hot.

Why does magma tower want 10ml per quart in the distilled water. That's seems a bit much to me, when I've done other lamps with with a few drops of dishwashing soap with some surf and it works fine. Lots of Epsom salts to get the lamp to get the flow also. Is this what many experience?
Neither of my goo kit'd grandes required any salt in the distilled water and both flow great....i put 10 ml surf. per quart of water as per the instructions.
I guess it's just the way it works. Goo kits said they very so I got it running just fine now thought. Very beautiful.
Does anyone know where I can find a Colossus lamp (4 foot)? I really want one.

I may have a solution to the bubble problem. I’ve been working on 5 lava lamps; neon orange, red, purple, tangerine and green. The purple is a nineties lamp/wax and the others are all 60’s and 70’s lamps. I’ve now changed the solution between four and five times for each lamp for a number of reasons; to many bubbles, foggy water, and sticky wax (attached to glass). It seams like each lamps wax is a bit different and requires small adjustments as I go, for instance the green obsorbs bubbles the fastest and the red is heat sensitive and will stick to the glass almost instantly if I boil the water to get rid of the bubbles. Anyway, today I’ve had a Eureka moment. I’ve changed the water again in the red, green, tangerine and purple lamps. I heat them up melting the wax completely and then simply pour the water from the lamp down the sink slowly adding hot water to the glass vase not being overly delicate either. After I’ve “cleaned” the wax a few times with the hot tap water I fill the vase up half way then poured boiling hot kettle water directly into the lamp sending the lava spinning into tiny bubbles. I then poured 2 tablespoons of Isopropyl Alcohol 70% and began adding a teaspoon at a time of highly concentrated Epson Salts with some crystals still visible and added ZERO soap. It worked! My purple 90’s lamp has Zero bubbles now, the red pain in the butt lamp is down to 5% bubbles, the tangerine has maybe 2% bubbles and the green-is still irritating me because I’m finding it difficult to balance the heat and salt levels BUT the bubbles are almost gone in that lamp as well. When I say bubbles I really mean a previous bubble problem! At one point a couple of these lamps looked like they were full of bathtub bubbles mixed with lava. Anyway, give it a try :) 

"I  "MAY"  have a "work around"  solution to the bubble in the wax  problem , I am testing it at the moment and it showing some promise.         

This worked perfectly for me!

Sgt Pepper said:

I have a way. You run the lamp once. as it cools down the wax will solidify, if you time it right the wax will be solid inside and goey outside and on the top where most of the bubbles are. Well get the globe and twirl it one way then quickly turn the other way and keep going that way. Repeat this multiple times. You will notice the top of the bubbles pop or the top gets pulled off. Now start up your lamp and see how it is. There will be less bubbles. Do this again and again. If they come back do it more, eventualy they stay gone. Hope this helps you

I am also going to try this "twirl it one way then quickly turn the other way" technique. I have an old 17" lamp that I bought new in about 1988 when I was in high school. I've had it ever since. The wax is pretty chunky and bubbly. I don't love the chunks but I can live with them. The bubbles annoy me though. I've thought about replacing the wax and water but I'm afraid of ending up with something worse than what I've got...

I'm not sure I totally get how quickly I should be twirling it and turning it  but I'll play around and try to figure it out.


How long am I supposed to let it cool down before I attempt the "twirl it one way then quickly turn the other way" technique?

EXACTLY, the bubbles are not air at all but master fluid

Keith said:

The bubbles in the wax are from the water, not air.  Melted wax doesn't hold air because the air is much less dense than either water or wax.  On occasion air will become trapped in the wax at the top of the globe when the lamp is off and cooling, but as soon as the wax melts enough the air bubble will SHOOT to the top.


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