These instructions for making a lava lamp or lava lite are for the experienced hobbyist, not kids or novices.
Time Required: A Few Hours
- Break open an oil-soluble marker or pen and place the inked felt into a container of benzyl alcohol. Leaving it in longer will give a darker color, but will also increase the tendency to bleed into the brine.
- A few minutes is usually a good time to leave the inked felt in the alcohol. Rumor has it that a 'Sharpie' bleeds too much into the brine, so choose a different type of marker.
- The benzyl alcohol, specific gravity 1.043 g/ml, and 4.8% salt water (brine, specific gravity 1.032 g/ml) go in the glass container. A bottle about 10 inches tall is good.
- Build a base to hold the bottle over the lamp using a tin can and plywood. A dimmer on the light will allow you to control heat.
- You may wish to place a fan at the top of the bottle to cool the liquid at this location.
- You will need to experiment to get the best distance between the heat source (light) and the glass container.
- You want about 150 ml benzyl alcohol and the remainder of the liquid to be brine. Seal the bottle, but allow air space.
- Try about 1 inch of air space at the top, to allow for expansion of the fluids. The amount of air space will affect bubble size.
- Responsible adult supervision is required! Because the materials may be toxic and there is a flammability hazard, this project is not intended for young or inexperienced inventors.
- Alternatives to benzyl alcohol include cinnamyl alcohol, diethyl phthalate, ethyl salicylate, or nitrobenzine.
- An oil-based ink may be used instead of the marker.
- If the benzyl alcohol floats to the top and stays there, add more water. If the alcohol stays at the bottom, add more salt (NaCl).
- A trace amount of an antioxidant, such as BHA or BHT, may be added to the liquid to add color and increase contrast.
- Please read a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for benzyl alcohol before performing this procedure. Have fun - be safe!
What You Need
- benzyl alcohol
- 4.8% saline solution
- 40-60 Watt lightbulb
- glass container
- oil-soluble marker
- glass bottle
- tin can
- dimmer switch