Newest Review: ... have always been fascinated with these lamps since seeing them on old black and white TV programmes way back in the 60s. They would often... more
TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
Member Name: Stroody
Date: 23/10/07, updated on 23/10/07 (2562 review reads)
Advantages: Looks stunning - Easy to maintain - durable and last for years
Disadvantages: Pretty expensive - Needs a good stable surface to place on
Now that is much better - At this moment in time, the tone and setting is perfectly poised for me to switch on my lava lamps. A dim to dark room is the ideal background to show off these elegant motion lamps in action - only then can you really appreciate them in full bloom. Made out of wax and high quality oils the lava lamp when switched on will illuminate a glass container and then gradually discharge brightly coloured wax droplets causing them to rise & fall. I have a craze and passion for devices or gadgets that not only look good but also glow and light up in a dark room. The lava lamp is one such device that fit’s the criteria perfectly - on elegance/looks, decoration and a full spectrum of dazzling colour combinations to pick from as well as different container styles.
The classic ionic lava lamp was first invented in 1963 by an Englishman - Edward Craven Walker who passed away in 2000. He invented a lamp that has clearly stood the test of time. The first and original lava lamp was called the Mathmos Astro (1963) & since then the company have continued to manufacture not only the original but also a wide selection of turn of the century modern new styles due to popular demand. I own two standard size Astro lava lamps - one has red lava wax in a yellow liquid container, whilst the other is a clear liquid with tiny blue & silver bits that glow when switched on. Both display stunning colours as well as enhance the mood when in a dim to dark room. The hypnotic aura that these lamps emit also contributes to a soothing and relaxing experience - they are great when watching a movie in the living room or the bedroom - feeling completely stress free and relaxed. However, considering these lamps are not cheap - their sole purpose being more for decoration in the home rather than illumination. So, a few pointers/tips and advice is in order for you to fully understand the concept as well the mechanism on how they work.
[Looks - Style - Features]
A genuine and original Mathmos lava lamp, one that is not copied will always sport a high quality brushed aluminium/steel finish - the entire base of the lamp as well as the cap that sits on top of the bottle is furnished in a stylish silver colour. However, the focal feature and the most attractive (when switched on) is the glass bottle containing water and a translucent mix of wax and other chemicals. The bottle perfectly slots into the aluminium base which can be detached and re-attached at any time - more so when replacing the old bulb with a new one .The base not only houses the light bulb but it also acts as a supportive stand - one that is secure and safe when standing the lamp in an up-right position. Slim but tall in stature hence my two Astro lamps are around 17 inches tall - a relative good standard size that allows you to fully appreciate the wax lava droplets rise & fall in the glass water container. However, the height can pose a slight problem when trying to find the ideal place to put your lava lamp - the perfect setting would be to position on a top shelf where there are no obstructions above , a small cabinet or even on a windowpane but at the same time make sure there is a mains socket close by. The power lead is reasonable in length but having an extension handy will not go amiss just in case you decide to place on a high shelf thus you may need more cord to reach the socket. You simply operate the lamp via an on/off switch flip button that can be found on the power lead. So to sum it up, the overall looks and style of this lamp when viewed in daylight is okay, nothing special but it will pass. On the other hand, when switched on in a dark to dim room the whole outlook of the lava lamp changes. It transforms itself into an elegant and ornamental decoration that displays an aura of deep rich colours - providing hours of falling & rising blobs of wax that move and behave in an unpredictable way. So if you really want to see the lava lamp in full bloom and do it justice then you must …….
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[Customise - Lava Lamp]
We live in an era where we can virtually customise most devices and appliances to suits our needs, taste & lifestyle - lava lamps are no exception. If your looking for a specific colour to suit your room décor or even a combination of colours then the lava lamp can cater for this and much more. You can choose the colour of the lava wax as well as the colour of the liquid in the bottle container. So if you decide to purchase one of these, don’t just settle for the first colour you see. - explore the array of dye combinations available before you go ahead and buy. Its well worth the extra insight as the wax/liquid colour can make a huge difference in the overall effect when viewing the lava lamp in action. Some of the colour combinations available are Red - Yellow - Blue - Purple - White - & all made from high quality oils.
A wide variety of water container styles as well as a good selection of lamp sizes will take you that step closer when picking out a lava lamp that will suit your taste & preference. A popular motion lava lamp is the Mathmos Telstar - it comes in a rocket shape form and has a good size glass bottle that clearly displays the moving flow of larva when switched on. However, the dimensional sizes available in all lamp styles are as follows 10 - 12 - 14 - 17 - & 27 inches - The 14 inch lamps are the main standard size, the ones that sell the most. The largest size is known as the Giant Grande lava lamp and this is huge when positioned up right, ideally should be placed on a flat surface floor. The 10 inch size lava lamps are ideal for young children, a great addition to kid’s bedroom. I opted for the 17 inch tall lamp; I found this size to be perfect in stature - not too overpowering yet still a focal point in any room. Remember the larger the lamp size the more volume of water & glass hence the more activity in the bottle container when switched on - blobs of lava wax have further to travel up the bottle as well as down. So the impact of two wax droplets colliding creates more chaos behaviour & movement - this adds to more unpredictable shapes forming as well providing hours of fun and enjoyment. Let’s all have a quick re-cap thus far - What action needs to be taken to get the best out your lava lamp?
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[Mechanism Of The Lava Lamp]
Okay people, you purchase your lava lamp and then you plug it into the mains socket which in turn lights up your bottle container. You wait, you wait, you wait some more but nothing happens - quite simply nothing will happen when initially switched on. Your lava lamp is not broken so there is no need to panic - the solid coloured wax at the base of the bottle needs to be heated up for at least 2 hours or so before getting any real momentum or expansion out of the wax mass in the bottle container. The mechanism & how these lava lamps operate is quite simple really. The glass bottle sits on top of the bulb which in return heats the contents, in this case the lava wax - as the wax heats up and then it begins to melt and expand thus creating wax droplets to float to the top. Once the wax reaches the top of the bottle container it begins to cool down hence the density increases causing the wax to fall through the liquid and back down to the bottom of the container again- The rise and fall of the mass of wax is an on-going cycle, that’s providing you keep the lava lamp switched on. Once the lamp is switched off the wax falls to the base and eventually hardens - going back to its original state. To fully appreciate the mechanism of these lava lamps and all its stunning colours, don’t forget to ………
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[Maintenance & Equipment]
Lava lamps are durable and robust that can easily last you a good 3 to 6 years or so and that’s when using it constantly. They require very low maintenance, just the odd dust down here & there as well as the odd occasional replacement of the 40W light bulb. The bottle can also be dismantled from the base and be given a good clean & shine, a sparkling clean glass bottle container will most definitely enhance the aura and colourful wax when flowing in the water - so if the lava wax is looking a bit dull when switched on it could be due to the dusty bottle.
However , lava lamps are made out of glass that contain chemical solvents (carbon tetrachloride) and so no matter how tough and thick the glass is they can still smash or break if accidentally dropped on a hard surface and from a reasonable height. If by any chance the lava lamp does take a big fall and the glass bottle is okay still look out for any spillages from the cap - as dropping the container may weaken the cap and that’s what keeps the liquid sealed - The liquid in the glass container is a non-flammable solvent as well as oils - wax & water. If you find that there is no salvaging the lava lamp and the bottle is completely smashed then throw the bottle away but do not throw the base or the cap away. You can buy replacement bottles that will simply slot into your existing aluminium base - they sell for around £24, and although pretty expensive its better than buying a complete new lava lamp that will cost you double the money. Base units can also be bought if they go faulty - they sell around £10 plus , the Telstar base for example will set you back around £22.(rocket shaped base). If you experience no problems then the only alterations you will be making to your lava lamp is replacing the 40w bulb when need be.
[Value for Money]
When weighing up the pros against the cons the scales balance heavily towards the pros - Considering lava lamps main use around the home is for decoration or an ornamental piece rather than an illumination lamp then the price of £50 is pretty expensive. Your average table lamp will set you back around £25 and so when comparing prices there is a big difference. However, having said that, these lava lamps last several years and a one off payment of £50 which in return all I have to do is change the light bulb now and again & with minimal maintenance required has to be value for money. Owner of two Astro lava lamps for around 5 years now & no complaints here - both are in fine working order , experienced no spillages , changed the 40w bulb about ten times in 5 years @ a price of £2.00 per bulb. The lava wax potency and colour is just as effective as day one - still creating stunning colours as well as keeping in sink with the mechanism of the lava lamp cycle - the mass of wax rises an another falls.
The four main Mathmos lava lamps on sale are as follows:
Mathmos Astro £50
Mathmos Astro Baby £45
Mathmos Telstar £58
Mathmos Fluidium £50
I plan to buy the Mathmos Fluidium next - designed by Ross Lovegrove. This model is stunning - a very modern style lava lamp that sports a fat glass container. I know there are lots of imitations of these lava lamps around and at a fraction of the price but I rather buy from Mathmos direct because I know that I am getting a quality lava lamp from the original creators and more importantly they supply extra parts if I need to replace anything - which I have yet to do but just knowing you can is peace of mind. If you want to cut corners however, there is a good site www.froginabox.co.uk - You can buy some good Astro looking ones for around £8.00. - they make great gifts and at that price you just can’t go wrong. Have bought a few myself as gifts and was pleased with what I saw. - Only the REAL McCOY for me lol
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Sterte Avenue West
Dorset - BH15 - 2BE
Tel: 01202 644 600
Fax: 01202 669 440
Thanks ……..© Strood 2007 @ 23.10 22/10/07
Summary: An excellent decor addition to any room