A lava lamp (or Astro lamp) is a decorative novelty item, invented in 1963 by British accountant Edward Craven Walker, the founder of the British lighting company Mathmos. The lamp consists of a bolus of a special coloured wax mixture inside a glass vessel, the remainder of which contains clear or translucent liquid, the vessel is then placed on a box containing an incandescent light bulb whose heat causes temporary reductions in the density and viscosity of the wax. The warmed wax rises through the surrounding liquid, cools, loses its buoyancy, and falls back to the bottom of the vessel in a cycle that is visually suggestive of pāhoehoe lava, hence the name. The lamps are designed in a variety of styles and colours.
As noted above, the actual ingredients used in Lava Lite Lamps are proprietary but there are several liquid ingredients, which can be combined to give a lava effect.
Lava-type lamps can be made with water mixed with isopropyl alcohol as one phase and mineral oil as the other. Other materials, which may be used as oil phase ingredients include benzyl alcohol, cinnamyl alcohol, diethyl phthalate, and ethyl salicylate.
Other additives used in lava lamp fluids include various oil and water-soluble colorants. The specific gravity of the aqueous phase can be adjusted through the addition of sodium chloride or similar materials. In addition, a hydrophobic solvent may be added to the mixture to help the lava coalesce. Turpentine and similar paint solvents are said to work well in this regard. Antifreeze ingredients can also be added to increase the rate at which the lava warms.
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5. Large flashlight6. Water
How is made
- Fill the bottle three-quarters full with vegetable oil.
2. Fill the rest of the bottle with water (almost to the top but not overflowing).
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4. From homesciencetools.com
Flask or bottle
How to do
- Fill the flask most of the way with vegetable oil.
- Fill the rest of the flask with water. The water will sink to the bottom under the oil.
- Add a few drops of food coloring; your choice of color. The food coloring is water-based, so it will also sink and color the water that is now at the bottom of the flask.
- Break an alka-seltzer tablet into a few small pieces, and drop them in the flask one at a time.
- Watch your lava lamp erupt into activity! As the reaction slows down, simply add more alka-seltzer.
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5. From questacon.edu
Tall glass, glass jar or plastic cup
Alka-Seltzer tablets (or other effervescent tablets)
- Fill glass ⅓ with water and add a couple of drops of food dye.
- Carefully float oil on top of the water, filling the glass to about 1cm from the rim.
- Break the Alka-Seltzer tablet into 4 parts and gently drop them into the glass.
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