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Lava Lamps

The lava lamp was invented by Edward Craven-Walker of the United Kingdom in 1963. The slowly rising and falling blobs fascinated people in the 1960’s and still do today. Making various simplified versions of the lava lamp is a popular science project. This is the place to find answers about the history and the mysterious workings of the lava lamp.

1,072 Questions
Volcanoes
Science Experiments
Lava Lamps

How is a lava lamp similar to a volcano?

Sometimes it can be the colours (red or orange) but its mostly the wax is meant to look like lava hence lava lamp.

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Lava Lamps

How do lava lamps work?

The lava lamp uses a process called convection. As the wax heats up, it expands, creating a greater volume so its density decreases. This makes it less dense than the surrounding liquid, causing it to rise. When the wax reaches the top of the lamp, away from the heat source, it begins to cool down. This causes the wax to contract, creating a less volume increasing its density. The wax then becomes more dense than the surrounding liquid, causing it to sink, and the cycle starts over again.
The lava lamp contains two substances which are a very closely guarded secret by the makers of lava lamps. Employees are required to sign confidentiality agreements when they are hired. So it is unknown what the two substances are exactly. One is a thick oily substance the other is a waxy type substance. A light bulb underneath the liquid part of the lamp lights the lamp and also creates just enough heat to expand the molecules in the waxy substance making it lighter than the oily substance therefore it rises in the lamp. As the waxy substance rises and travel away from the heat source, it becomes cooler and more dense which makes it then fall back to the bottom of the lamp where it then repeats the this process over and over and over.

The light at the bottom of the lamp gradually heats up the material at the bottom, which therefore expands (slightly) and thus becomes less dense, causing it to slowly float upwards; when it is farther from the light is will slowly cool off, contract, and sink. So the process repeats endlessly, until the light burns out.

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Science
Energy
Lava Lamps

What type of energy does a lava lamp produce?

Light, heat and kinetic energy.

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Lava Lamps

Why do blobs form in Lava Lamps?

When a lava lamp is turned off, there is a pile of stuff at the bottom. When you turn it on a big light lights up at the bottom of the lamp and bubbles form and float, right? This is because the substance at the bottom of the lamp is very light WAX. The light heats up the light wax and this makes the wax lighter. There is a liquid in the lamp (a jelly type of liquid) that makes the light wax even lighter. Now, because the light heated up the wax, it leaves bubble SHELL. There is nothing inside the bubble but air. And so this ALSO makes lighter. With all these factors making the bubble lighter it slowly begins to rise up. As it moves away from the light it cools down, but there is a light at the top so when it gets to his light it catches onto the OTHER wax at the top of the lamp. By this point it has cooled down alot which makes it heavier and is now bigger. So the wax sinks to the bottom

Slowly and heats up again by the light at the bottom. This cycle repeats for ever until the batterys run out. Hope this helps ;)

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Science
Lava Lamps

What is the best purpose for a homemade lava lamp?

It is just for decoration

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Lava Lamps

Do you turn your lava lamp off at night?

Theoretically you can. You can also theoretically leave a fire burning unattended in a fireplace. Is it a good idea? No. Lava lamps get awfully hot. If it were to tip over or break, it would create a fire hazard. I wouldn't recommend it. Hope this helps

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Home Theater
Lava Lamps

Can you describe the bulb in the lava lamp?

Incandesent round mini-bulb designed specifically to fit into lava lamp with appropriate wattage to heat the volume of the lamp to a temperature that melts the wax compound without overheating the liquid volume. Very precise so use only the manufacturer's recommended bulb.

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Chemistry
Lava Lamps

What is a lava lamp made of?

a spring in the bottom & top of the "lava" is heated by a light in the bottom of the lamp

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Literary Devices and Figures of Speech
Lava Lamps

What is another name for a lava lamp?

lava lamps by Yvonne Bernal

The unique lamps were created by a British inventor and former World War II pilot, Edward Craven-Walker, who reportedly thought up the idea after seeing a homemade, liquid-filled egg timer at a pub.

In September of 1963, Craven-Walker started a company to research and develop his invention. But his widow, Christine Baehr, told BBC News they had a rough time, at first, trying to find investors.

But Baehr said that, after the couple took their product around the British countryside in a van, word of the wildly original illumination spread. Pretty soon lava lamps could be seen in science fiction movies and television shows like "Dr. Who," and became extremely trendy. By the mid-1960s, according to an MIT report, lava lamps "had exceeded 7 million units worldwide."

Baehr told The Associated Press that she knew the lava lamp had "made it" as a product when she heard that Beatles drummer Ringo Starr had purchased one.

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Home & Garden
Physics
Literary Devices and Figures of Speech
Lava Lamps

What is the best hypothesis for a homemade lava lamp?

Hypothesis: . If the density of the food coloring and the oil is to different then the liquids will no combine and will separate forming something like a lava lamp.

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Lava Lamps

A certain type of lamp contains colored liquids these liquids form globs that break off and rise to the top of the liquid the glob rises due to what?

It is called a "lava lamp" and the effect is caused by the heat of the bulb in the lamp causing one of the liquids to warm up and become less dense than the other (it is denser in the cold state). The less dense glob then rises up and breaks off and travels to the top of the lamp where it cools then sinks once again to the bottom of the lamp.

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Lava Lamps

How does a lava lamp work using convection?

The heat source at the bottom of the lamp (usually light bulb) heats up to a very high temperature. With wax lava lamps the solid wax needs to melt first. Once the wax is liquid, it will start to absorb heat from the light bulb. Once it has collected enough heat, a blob will float to the top to cool down. Once the blob of liquid wax has cooled at the top, it will sink down to the bottom to collect more heat.

Also when it is heated at the bottom, the blob becomes less dense than water so it floats. When it cools at the top, it becomes more dense and sinks. Hope this helps!

=^^=. This is not true

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Volcanoes
Plate Tectonics
Lava Lamps

How is Earth mantle like a lava lamp?

it uses a convection current

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Physics
Chemistry
Lava Lamps

What is the chemical formula for the liquid of a lava lamp?

C2-H12-Fe18

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Lava Lamps

Why are lava lamps hot?

Lava lamps get hot because you have to plug them into the wall and wen you do that it creates energy so then your lava lamp heats up and then the stuff inside it can work.

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Science
Lava Lamps

What happens when you shoot a lava lamp?

I've done this if i were you i wouldn't do it It explodes and the "Lava"

burns your skin like melted glass. Don't Try it

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DIY Projects
Lava Lamps

How do you make a lava lamp?

What you need to make a homemade lava lamp

  1. water
  2. vegetable oil
  3. food coloring
  4. Glitter
  5. Salt ( lots of it!)
  6. A flask that shows how much you need for example 200ml
Now you pour water in too the flask (200ml).

Put in the glitter (color of your choice, the glitter should float).

Add the food coloring of your choice. ( a few drops is enough!)

Add a few squints of veg oil.

Now keep adding salt, this make it look like a lava lamp!

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Lava Lamps

Why does Lava in a lava lamp rises and sinks?

The 'lava' in a Lava Lamp is actually a chemically treated wax. The clear (sometimes colored) liquid is water. When the lamp is turned on the metal coil inside the glass chamber is heated by the light bulb. The reason it sinks and rises is because when the molecules inside the wax get heated up and speed up and expand. This causes them to become less dense than the water causing them to rise. When they are at the top the molecules slowly get colder and they slow down which makes them more dense than the water, so the wax sinks.

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Lava Lamps

Is there lava in lava lamps?

No there is NOT real lava in lava lamps. If there was real lava in lava lamps, it would burn, it just oil and water.

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Inventions
Lava Lamps

What is the purpose of a lava lamp?

The give of light to see by but also provide a source of movement that gives a room "mood" - sort of like watching the flames of a flickering fire. It helps you relax.

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Lava Lamps

What causes the movement of the liquid in a lava lamp?

Convection is when hot substances rise and cool ones sink. The colored wax heats up at the bottom of the lamp where the bulb is, then rises up, cools, and sinks again.

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Lava Lamps

What wattage bulb does a lava lamp use?

the bulb is usually 30 or 40 watts

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Science Experiments
Lava Lamps

What are some Lava lamp questions for science projects?

why does the lava sink or rise?

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Home Electricity
Electrical Engineering
Lava Lamps

How do I rewire a lamp to take a higher wattage bulb?

Don't - You replace the wires just as you would for the original wiring but you must use a lower guage wire size - meaning a thicker wire. The AC cord for lamps in the past 30 years was at least good for 500 watts. Don't forget that the wattage rating my not be limited by electrical considerations but by thermal limits. A larger bulb may melt or burn the fixture itself, not just the socket.

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Science
Lava Lamps

Is a lava lamp a chemical or physical change?

A lava lamp is a chemical change

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