The silicone oil in lava lamps is somewhat fragile. Shaking the lamp or turning it upside down can permanently cloud the water.
There are a few things you can try to restore the water's clarity. If your lamp arrived new, but cloudy, send it back for a replacement. Turn off the lamp for two hours, turn it on, then turn it off again as soon as the liquid begins clouding.
Try six to eight "power-ons. Run the lamp for 10 straight hours and hope that sufficient heat will cure the problem. If it persists, go to Step 3.
Unplug the lamp and let it cool for two hours. Unscrew the lid and pour out the liquid.
You are going to replace the liquid. Pour in cool, distilled water, but not directly onto the fragile wax.
Empty the water and repeat. Fill the bottle again with distilled water, leaving a two-inch air gap at the top.
Turn on the lamp with the cap still off. Let it run for an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare a saline solution by microwaving a drinking glass of distilled water for 10 or 20 seconds. Dissolve as much Epson salts or pickling salt into the glass as you can.
Don't use table salt—its iodization will cloud the water all over again. Dip an inch of a drinking straw into the saline solution, put your finger on the other end to keep the water in the straw, and transfer it into the lamp bottle.
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Add a small drop of liquid dishwashing detergent to promote separation of the wax into rising orbs. Paul Dohrman's academic background is in physics and economics.
He has professional experience as an educator, mortgage consultant, and casualty actuary. His interests include development economics, technology-based charities, and angel investing.
How to Fix My Lava Lamp. How to Clear the Water in a Lava Lamp.