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A lava lamp is, in principle, very simple. It consists of a lamp, which heats up a glass bulb filled with a waxy solid and a liquid. These cannot mix together and must have very similar densities. As the solid heats up, its density is lowered, so it rises. This cools it down and it then falls to the bottom of the lamp, creating a strangely soothing effect. In practice, making one yourself would involve messing about with expensive and perhaps flammable chemicals, so I wouldn't bother trying. It is much easier just to buy one yourself.
The Giant Grande Lava Lamp comes in two colours yellow and blue or yellow and violet. It is truly enormous at 27" and is guaranteed to be a focal point in your room. It is not called "giant" and "grande" for nothing!
My lamp is a yellow and blue model. Although the product description says "yellow", in fact the effect produced by the lamp is green lava on a blue background.
Being so enormous, the lava lamp is not for people who wish to be environmentally friendly. Due to its size, it needs a hefty 100W bulb to heat up the liquid and even then takes AGES (at least an hour) to get the lava going. Once it does begin to work, however, the lava effect is most unusual and hypnotic.
Unlike the pictures above, or any other lava lamp I have seen, the wax seems to prefer to form a huge column, rising and falling from the top to the bottom of the lamp. It occasionally produces globules which bud off and rise to the surface, but mostly you get a column of molten lava. Whether my lamp is typical in this respect, I don't know - but either way, it still prodices a soothing and hypnotic glow.
This lamp is really good value at £40 (I got mine from Argos). it is not made by Mathmos (the original manufacturers of lava lamps) which may explain why it is relatively cheap. The build is, however, of very good quality, although there were a few bubbles in the glass of the bulb, but these add to the effect when the lamp is lit.
I wouldn't bother even attempting to buy this by mail order or over the internet, as the postage and packing costs must be horrendous. The lamp weighs a ton and would cost as much to post as it does to buy.
There is hardly anything to mention about the user's manual - just the usual notes about cleaning and how to clean up any spillages if it happens to become broken. In practice, as long as you are careful not to trip up over a three foot high lamp, there shouldnt be any problems. The lamp is very sturdy and the glass is thick, so it shouldn't break very easily. The base is well constructed and holds the whole thing in place securely. No maintenance is required, except an occasional dusting and replacement of the bulb (uses a standard 100W bulb which is easily replacable).
Overall, I would recommend this lamp, with a few shortcomings. It doesn't seem to produce lava globules as much as I would have hoped, but it is still an interesting and very pretty effect. be prepared to be patient though when using it!