There is perhaps no other device that captures the rebellious, psychedelic spirit of the 1960s better than the lava lamp. The colorful, mesmerizing fixture’s unique combination of fluids and movement hypnotized a generation of young people in an era defined by antiwar protests, shocking political assassinations, a frenzied space race, and the civil rights movement.
The lava lamp’s mesmerizing effect stems from the interaction of different liquids within the glass cylinder that houses them. The fluids, oil and water, are selected on the basis of their density, so that one just barely floats in the other. As heat from the bulb warms up the oil, it becomes lighter and rises to the surface, while the denser water sinks toward the bottom of the flask.
While the oil and water are a mainstay of commercial lava lamp recipes, other additives have been found to increase the rate at which the liquids warm up. Turpentine and other paint solvents are said to work well in this regard. A hydrophobic substance is also often added to the mix to help wax gently plume upward, rather than break apart into bubbles.
A small amount of airspace is left at the top of the cylinder, which is then capped with either a screw type or bottle cap-type cap that is crimped into place. Each lamp is then moved along a conveyor line to be first filled with the oil/wax phase, followed by the water phase. After the cylinder is filled, the light bulb is placed into the socket and the entire unit is sealed. The lamp is then inspected to ensure the bulb and socket are properly centered and tightened. lampe lave