Lava Lamp

From Leo's Notes
Last edited on 30 December 2021, at 01:22.

Replacing Liquid[edit | edit source]

Cloudy lava lamps can be restored by replacing the liquid with water and a mixture of magnesium sulfate and dish soap. Magnesium sulfate is used to control the buoyancy of the wax. Dish soap acts as a surfactant to help the wax break apart.

The following mixture seemed to work best for me:

  • 1/8 tsp epsom salt (no scents, just magnesium sulfate)
  • 1 tiny drop of clear dish soap
  • 500ml filtered hot water

Other sites recommending using more salts, but that didn't work for me. This is possibly because of the higher mineral content in my water despite it being filtered.

Instructions[edit | edit source]

  1. Start with a cool lava lamp. Wax should be solid.
  2. Pop the top off. Use a pair of pliers and slowly pry the cap loose. It should pop off with some force and ideally not completely loose.
  3. Drain the lamp bottle slowly to prevent any tiny bits of wax from leaving.
  4. If your bottle has wax stuck to the walls, pour hot water over the outside of the bottle where the wax clumps are to melt them off.
  5. Make the mixture above in a measuring cup
  6. Hold the bottle at an angle and slowly pour the mixture into the bottle. Try to wash the walls of the bottle as you fill it so wax doesn't stick later on.
  7. Fill until about 1-2 inches from the top of the bottle and replace the cap.
  8. At this point, the wax should be somewhat melted at the bottom of the bottle. It is also normal for it to have lots of small wax droplets.
  9. Put the bottle on the lamp stand and turn it on.
  10. Ensure the wax can move up and down like a normal lava lamp. If it isn't, you will need to readjust the amount of epsom salt.
  11. Cycle the lamp a few times to clear up any cloudiness or small wax globs that formed during the filling process.

Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

Wax stuck to sides of bottle[edit | edit source]

Possibly caused by not enough dish soap in the liquid.

Small globs that are stuck be fixed by running the lamp for a few hours.

Large globs stuck to the lamp that don't seem to go away after being on for hours could possibly be fixed by spinning the bottle while still hot to detach the wax from the walls. If it still doesn't work, try to drain the lamp and then pour hot water on the outside of the bottle until it reflows.

Whatever you do, do not scratch it off with a stick. You may end up scratching the glass or contaminating the wax.

Cloudy Bottle[edit | edit source]

If you shake the bottle, the wax can emulsify and cause the water to appear cloudy. Cycling the bottle a few times might help separate the wax from the water, thereby clearing it up. It doesn't appear to quite restore the opacity to its original amount despite a dozen lamp cycles. It's best to just not shake the bottle or replace the liquid again if it happens.

See Also[edit | edit source]