Dear Sun Spots: You are a great problem solver. Now I would like to know what I can do or where I can take my Lava Light to get it going again. It’s lost its zip. It does not bubble like it should.

Also, I got my daisy makers, the first thing when my article came out last Wednesday. I got a call about 8:30 a.m. Thanks to the kind lady that gave it to me, I am now making daisies! – Irene in Turner.

Answer:
In addition to responses from readers, you may want to bring your lamp to Lighting Concepts, 1033 Sabattus St., Lewiston, (207) 753-0000. They can certainly look at it to see if they can repair it. They are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays 8 a.m. and noon.

You and other hobbyists may enjoy these directions for making your own lava light found online at www.chemistry.about.com. Please note, these instructions are for the experienced hobbyist, not for kids or novices.

What you need: benzyl alcohol, 4.8 percent saline solution, 40-60 watt light bulb, glass container, oil-soluble marker, glass bottle, tin can, dimmer switch, plywood, tools.

Directions: Break open an oil-soluble marker or pen and place the inked felt into a container of benzyl alcohol. Leaving it in longer will give a darker color, but will also increase the tendency to bleed into the brine. A few minutes is usually a good time to leave the inked felt in the alcohol. Rumor has it that a Sharpie bleeds too much into the brine, so choose a different type of marker. The benzyl alcohol, specific gravity 1.043 g/ml, and 4.8 percent salt water (brine, specific gravity 1.032 g/ml) go in the glass container. A bottle about 10 inches tall is good. Build a base to hold the bottle over the lamp using a tin can and plywood. A dimmer on the light will allow you to control heat. You may wish to place a fan at the top of the bottle to cool the liquid at this location. You will need to experiment to get the best distance between the heat source (light) and the glass container. You want about 150 ml benzyl alcohol and the remainder of the liquid to be brine. Seal the bottle, but allow air space. Try about 1 inch of air space at the top, to allow for expansion of the fluids. The amount of air space will affect bubble size. Responsible adult supervision is required! I make no claims as to the safety, accuracy or advisability of this procedure. If you are in doubt, then try the nontoxic version also listed on this site.

Tips: Alternatives to benzyl alcohol include cinnamyl alcohol, diethyl phthalate, ethyl salicylate, or nitrobenzine.

An oil-based ink may be used instead of the marker. If the benzyl alcohol floats to the top and stays there, add more water. If the alcohol stays at the bottom, add more salt (NaCl). A trace amount of an antioxidant, such as BHA or BHT, may be added to the liquid to add color and increase contrast. Please read a material safety data sheet for benzyl alcohol before performing this procedure. Have fun – be safe!

Dear Sun Spots: I am looking for some screw-top canning jars, preferably large mouthed. I am willing to pay a reasonable price for them and may be able to pick them up depending on how far away you are. Please contact Athena Bussiere at 966-3052 to make arrangements. Thank you. – A. Bussiere, Turner.

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