Monday, January 14, 2008

My Lava Lamp

It's a snow day here -- and regardless of the fact that the herbs in the front yard were still green yesterday -- after the 70 degree days had melted the small buildup around them -- it feels like all is right with the winter this moment.

Some memory emerges of moments lost in themselves...

Some days don't mix with politics or money or pollution. Some days move in and out of themselves, traveling slowly and grazing the various wonders of culture, entertainment and now...

Dear Yahoo!:
What is the "lava" made of in a lava lamp?
San Francisco, California
LinkDear David:
Believe it or not, the stuff inside lava lamps is a trade secret, not unlike McDonald's special sauce. Could they be one and the same? Probably not. But here are a few leads:

Our noncommercial Lava Lamp category features four -- count'em four -- invaluable web sites on the topic, including a helpful site called The Lava Lamp Conspiracy that links to an intriguing little document offering the specifics on the first Lava Lamp patent by David George Smith of England.

The two fluids listed on the patent are water and a "solidified globule of mineral oil, paraffin and a dye as well as paraffin wax or petroleum jell, preferably Ondina 17 with a light paraffin, carbontetrachoride, a dye and the paraffin wax or petroleum jelly." So there you have it -- Mr Smith's Original Recipe.

If you're trying to make your own lava lamp, a friendly science teacher named Sean suggests Benzyl alcohol (probably around 150 - 250 ml) mixed in a 4.8% salt water solution (48 g per liter). To get the right color in the Benzyl alcohol, "find an oil-soluble marker (Magic Marker?) and break it open. Carefully remove the felt ink-soaked thing (technical talk; sorry) and place it in a small bowl with the benzyl alcohol."

But remember to wear gloves, David. Some of these chemicals are fairly dodgy.

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