Lava Lamp Thread

Re: Hunter's lava lamp building thread

Postby Phauss » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:39 pm

I stopped by Micheal's craft store today to see if they had beeswax. Turns out that they have the 1lb. blocks for $18, and all three different sizes of regular wax: the 1lb., 1.5lb., and 4lb. blocks. Maybe I'll stop by tomorrow and pick up some materials.
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Re: Hunter's lava lamp building thread

Postby Phauss » Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:36 am

I went out today and got the needed waxes for the lava along with a small bottle of 70% rubbing alcohol. I also went to Lowe's and got that 4"x24" length of aluminum snap ducting. I got to work afterwards putting things together, such as the aluminum ducting for the base. I made a small cylinder to put the bulb socket into and clipped the cylinder to the bottom of the base using hangar wire. I used a small piece of folded aluminum to act as a spring against the clip and socket mount to keep things tight.

The last thing I need to buy for the project is 91% rubbing alcohol, which I might be able to get tomorrow. Once I have that, I can begin testing the densities of the melted wax in the alcohol "water" to get the desired "lava" effect.

More pictures! Sorry for the grainy shots; I had to use my cell phone camera this time.

Socket clipped into the base:
Image

Folded sheet metal acting as a spring between the socket clip and the bottom of the can:
Image

Aluminum ducting, post-mortem:
Image

Section of aluminum ducting to be used around the base, with a cut for the power cord:
Image

Finished structure:
Image
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Hunter's lava lamp building thread

Postby Phauss » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:33 am

There has been a lot of progress made on the project so far. I've almost finished the project, but I've hit a few snags. Here's the documentaion:

Pressure Testing
I poured a quart of 91% alcohol into the jar and heated it up to see if the gasket made a good seal. After 6 hours, residual bubbles from pouring disappeared and there was no boiling. Alcohol condensation formed on the lid to the jar and was occassionally dripping. Opening the lid to the jar at temperature produced no noticeable pressure release and I've come to notice that pressure is not significant.

  • Pressure-testing the jar and gasket:
    Image

Melting Wax
I melted the two different types of wax together in the same pot on the stove. Exact numbers aren't known, but there was approximately 1lb of clear paraffin wax and 4oz. of white beeswax on the stove, which was set to low heat. The bricks completely melted in about 10 minutes.

  • Melting wax:
    Image

Experiment #1
I poured wax into the jar with the 91% alcohol already inside. The wax mostly rested on the bottom with long trickles and streams of wax releasing large drops of wax upwards. They appeared to cool on the way up as the outside of the wax drops began to harden. By the time they came back to rest on the bottom, the outside of the wax was in a semi-solid sphere. It should be noted that the surface of the main wax blob was also in a semi-solid state at this point because of the cooler alcohol in contact with it. A small amount 71% alcohol was poured into the jar in an attempt to coax more wax upward and the lamp was left running for several hours with no significant change. The lamp was turned off afterwards.

  • Preliminary testing:
    Image

Post-experiment
After about 6 hours, the alcohol and wax seem to have formed a solution that condenses into a slush when cooled. Upon further observation, there is still the main solidified blob of wax in the bottom of the jar, but no clear alcohol to be found. Out of curiosity, I turned on the lamp and left it on.

  • The alcohol/wax slushie I woke up to the next morning:
    Image

Further Testing
After about an hour, the wax at the bottom had completely melted and formed the smooth blob pictured below (something not yet observed). The wax in the wax/alcohol slush solution near the bottom of the jar began to melt and become clear again, although there was some residue left on the walls of the jar. After 2 hours, the residue began to disperse; however, the thick slush in the top half of the jar took much longer to finally melt. Residue on the glass from mid-level to the top of the jar never fully melted. The promising blob at the bottom of the jar remained at the bottom and never rose to the top.

  • Secondary Testing:
    Image

Results
The results of the tests brought a few issues to light. They outlined several variables that could be altered to get the effect we're looking for. We want a clear liquid (that stays clear when cool) with completely liquid wax rising and falling inside the jar. The following needs to be considered:
  • The need for a hotter bulb.
  • The possibility of too much wax.
  • A need for a hydrophobic chemical to be mixed with the wax to keep a wax/alcohol solution from forming.
  • A possible need for a heating element at the bottom of the jar.

Although a stock lamp (20oz.) uses a 25 Watt bulb, I seemed to have underestimated the larger volume of my lamp (~64oz.) with a 40W bulb. I will head to Lowe's today and get a more powerful bulb.
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Hunter's lava lamp building thread

Postby Phauss » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:51 pm

I've concluded that the beeswax in the mixture, unlike the paraffin wax, mixes with the alcohol and makes a solution. It solidifies when cool and turns the contents of the jar into a slushie. I don't know of a solution to this issue, but I'm thinking of introducing turpentine into the wax to see if I can get it to go completely hydrophobic. Mineral oil may also work.

At temperature, the wax blobs behave beautifully and the slushie in the jar melts back down into a clear liquid after some time. My current issue (besides the slushie) is that I believe the bulb is now too hot. Since the last experiment, I've replaced the 40W bulb with a 60W. The wax completely melts now, but it stays at the bottom. I'm led to believe that the alcohol is too hot (and therefore less dense) and not allowing the wax to rise.

How did I figure this out? About 10 minutes after turning off the lamp, the wax rises to the top of the jar and hangs out there long enough for it to cool. I suspect it doesn't come down because (a) the wax touching the glass would cool first, making the entire wax blob stick to the glass where it cooled, and (b) by the time the wax blob on the surface wants to come back down, the beeswax suspended in the alcohol has already begun to solidify into the slush on the glass of the jar. Although it's no trouble to nudge the wax down from the top of the jar, the thicker solution is too much trouble for gravity to just take care of things. (A nudge would be needed anyways to knock hardened wax off the glass, as explained in point (a).)
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Hunter's lava lamp building thread

Postby Phauss » Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:17 pm

Today I took what was left of a handle of rum bought from Costco. It was consumed over a week and the label covered most of the bottle, so I didn't realize how pretty it was until the bottle was nearly empty. After removing the Kirkland label and using fine-grit sandpaper to take off the bar code and warnings, I have been given inspiration to restart the lava lamp project. Stay tuned.

I will fix all of the broken image links when I get back to Arizona. I know all of the pictures still exist somewhere.

Image
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Lava Lamp Thread

Postby Phauss » Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:25 pm

I went through and edited all of my posts. It looks like I had a love affair with commas and run-on sentences. The whole thread should be much easier to read now. Thread title has been renamed to be more inclusive.

I'm staying at a place with a shop containing lots of woodworking tools, some wood scraps, and several nice wood stains. It might be a good time to make a base for the bottle if I want to turn it into a lava lamp. I'm thinking about two bulbs side by side for the lighting and heat source. That would provide some nice lava action across the width of the bottle.
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Lava Lamp Thread

Postby Forb » Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:20 am

I just cleaned up all my glass bottles and jars I have been saving for projects such as lava lamp. Also, I have a lava lamp.
Image

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Re: Lava Lamp Thread

Postby Phauss » Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:56 pm

I went into the back yard this morning and I found a collection of large bottles that apparently never made it into the recycle bin. I was happy to find another Kirkland rum bottle like the one I got, but the top has slightly different rounded "shoulder" look. I like the one I cleaned up over this one, but it's not bad. There was also an empty handle of Jack Daniels, which is a tall, square bottle if for some reason you're unfamiliar. I'm sure there would be many requests if I were to start making lava lamps with JD bottles. (As a side note, square bottles will be easier than round ones to make or find good bases.)

Here are the two bottles side by side. You can see the difference right around the shoulder.
Image

Forb wrote:I just cleaned up all my glass bottles and jars I have been saving for projects such as lava lamp. Also, I have a lava lamp.

I have a couple "Lava Grande" lamps that I really enjoy, but I can't wait to see if this will work. I got a good look at this bottle and remembered this thread and all the testing I did. Having a small wood shop to make a proper base has me pretty excited. I'll be working in there this afternoon, but I want to make sure I come up with a shape and stain that compliments the shape of the bottle.
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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Re: Lava Lamp Thread

Postby Forb » Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:12 pm

I have 5 handle bottles:
2 UV Vodka
3 Evan William's - These ones have the square bottom. Looks like JD.

I have 10 fifth bottles including:
UV Vodka
Evan Williams (square)
Tito's Vodka
Jaegermeister (square)
Crown Royal (you know what it looks like)
Absolut
American Honey (square)
JD Honey (square)
Cazadores
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Re: Lava Lamp Thread

Postby Phauss » Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:24 pm

I went into the shop with only a vague idea of what I wanted for a stand, so I started looking around in the scrap bin for some nice wood. I found a piece of pine and a couple pieces of redwood, all about a foot long, 51/2" wide and 11/2" thick. Great pieces of wood. I decided to go with a two-tone vertical stripe pattern with a beveled top edge. That isn't what I ended up going with, but I'll go ahead and walk us through what I did.

First of all, I got some preliminary measurements. The bottle has a constant 3" thickness. The width is 43/8" at the bottom and gets wider as it goes up. I wanted the base to cover the bottom of the bottle but not the image of the ship, so I went with a 1" overlap. The bottle was 43/4" wide 1" from the bottom. Just for kicks, I measured the "shoulder" of the bottle and it came out to 53/4". I didn't want the base to be wider than the bottle, so this was just an index.
Image

I decided to make the stripes in the pattern a half inch wide, so I measured out a half inch, aligned the blade, then clamped down a piece of wood as a stopper on the other side. Using the stopper meant that I only had to measure once and that every piece of wood would have an identical cut. I used the block on the left to push the wood into place since the blade was a little close for comfort. Align the grain with the cut and the miter saw does the rest.
Image

Here are all of the finished half inch slabs. This picture doesn't do a good job showing the contrast, but the redwood is on top and the pine is on bottom. They're about 41/4" long and 11/2" wide. It was around here that I began having second thoughts on the final design.
Image

Instead of doing a vertical stripe pattern, I decided to go with an interlocking horizontal pattern. I think it goes more with the maritime theme than my original idea. I also decided that I wouldn't do a 45 degree bevel on the top edge. I might instead sand all the side and top corners to a smooth rounded edge. A router would be much faster and more precise than sandpaper, but I don't think there's one I can get to here. To properly carry out this new design, I cut the slabs down some more so that the ends were square. Each slab yielded two sticks.
Image

Here are all the sticks after they've been cut. The contrast between the different wood types is much easier to see here.
Image

This is where I started crunching numbers. I wanted to make sure all the measurements were correct for the design because there wasn't more wood to cut. Considering both the inside and outside dimensions actually takes a lot of concentration, especially when it's about the aesthetics. I figured that this part of the base will not be bear weight; it will only look pretty and house the bulbs and sockets. It will fit around the bottom of the bottle, but there will be thicker pieces of wood 3" long attached to the inside that the bottle will sit on directly.
Image
Spoiler: show
(Fun fact: the outside width of the base will be exactly as wide as the bottle at the shoulder.)


After checking and double checking, I went ahead and cut the wood down to size. Unfortunately this is as far as I got, because the wood glue I was sure I'd be able to find doesn't exist anywhere in liquid form. I'll have to make a trip to TrueValue tomorrow to finish this up. Once it's glued together and set, the surfaces will be sanded smooth. Maybe I'll try linseed oil instead of stain to finish the wood.
Image
We are each a beautiful and unique snowflake that will melt in hell.

I got the words "jacuzzi" and "yakuza" confused.
Now I'm in hot water with the Japanese mafia.
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