Lava Lamps Turn 50: Learn To Make Your Own Lava Lamp [VIDEO, INSTRUCTIONS]

By Danny Choy on September 3, 2013 1:03 PM EDT

Lava Lamps
Lava lamps turn 50 years old! (Photo: Creative Commons)

Lava lamps turn 50 years old on Tuesday. A groovy icon of the Psychedelic 60's, the mesmerizing lava lamp was created by British inventor Edward Craven-Walker. In 1963, British company Crestworth marketed the delightful lava lamp as an "exotic conversation piece." 50 years later, the lava lamp has not lost its far out appeal.

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Edward Craven-Walker was a former World War II pilot that worked on developing lava lamps as a home lighting accessory. According to Daily Mail, Craven-Walker was inspired by a strange liquid-filled egg timer that he saw in a pub in southwest Britain. Craven-Walker believed the lava lamps invention was right for the times as Britain embraced an "anything-goes" lifestyle.

"Everything was getting a little bit psychedelic," said Christine Baehr, the second of Craven-Walker's four wives. "There was Carnaby Street and The Beatles and things launching into space and he thought it was quite funky and might be something to launch into."

According to Baehr, a particularly memorable moment was when Craven-Walker learned that Beatles drummer Ringo Starr bought one of their lava lamps. For the inventor and the company, the lava lamp's appeal to a rock star promised popularity and success for years to come. "That was a great, 'Ah we've made it,' moment," Baehr said.

Britain's manufacturing industry has since taken a strong hit by the explosive industry growth in Asia. Despite the increased competition, Crestworth, renamed Mathmos in 1992, is still producing lava lamps in their southwest Britain factory.

'I think it's really special to manufacture something that's been invented and made in Britain, in Britain for 50 years,' said Cressida Granger, who became involved with Crestworth in 1989 and gained sole ownership of Mathmos in 1999.

If you are interested in lava lamps, be sure to visit Mathmo. Their classic Telstar lava lamp is available for $130. However, did you know you can make your own lava lamp with just simple house hold ingredients? Here's how:

1.) Find a sealable glass bottle. Any size is fine. A 16 oz will fit well on your table. A 64 oz bottle is more visually striking.

2.) Pour in water and oil at a ratio of 25 percent and 75 percent, respectively. The water will sink to the bottom of the bottle while the oil will sit at the top. Add a few drops of the food coloring of your choice.

3.) Cut an Alka-Seltzer tablet into pieces of eight and top them into the bottle

4.) Tip the bottle back and forth to agitate it and create larger blobs of colored water.

5.) Place a strong light under the bottle to illuminate the bubbles for maximum effect.

A lava lamp can also be created using mineral oil and alcohol. However, the recipe is a little more complicated as it demands water and both 70 percent rubbing alcohol and 90 percent isopropyl alcohol. It is advised to use more 70 percent than 90 percent alcohol for the right density. Just a few tablespoons of water will do the trick for the water/alcohol mixture.

Next, add in mineral oil as the lava. The Oil will not mix with the water and alcohol solution. If you would like colored oils, use artist oil paints or a shred of permanent marker.

Place the glass bottle over a heat lamp or a light to see the mineral oil lava move about. If the lava isn't cooperating, add Turpentine and similar paint solvents to allow it to coalesce.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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