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How can I identify the liquid in Mathmos lava lamps? I have two of them with broken caps, I need to get rid of them. Can I flush the stuff down the toilet?

It smells funny.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Chemistry.SE! To acquaint yourself with this page, take the tour and visit the help center. Furthermore this tutorial shows you how math and chemical formulae can be nicely formatted on this site. Finally, we have an important policy: your questions, especially homework questions), should show your own work or thinking that you have already done in an initial attempt to answer the question. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Oct 3 '14 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ If you still have some of the original packaging it might contain some information on disposal. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Oct 3 '14 at 13:12
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The company is not very forthcoming with the ingredients in their FAQ; however, they do state in regards for disposal:

Q. How should I dispose of my lava lamp bottle when it reaches the end of its life?

A. Please make a hole in the metal cap with a sharp point. Then pour away the liquid. The bottle may then be placed in the glass recycling.

However, personally, I go by a general rule that if I do not know what substance is, I do not pour it down the sink. The authors of the HowStuffWorks webpage How to Dispose of Lava Lamps state the actual ingredients are a trade secret, but the first patent for lava lamps states the ingredients as being:

"solidified globule of mineral oil, paraffin and a dye as well as paraffin wax or petroleum jell, preferably Ondina 17 with a light paraffin, carbontetrachoride, a dye and the paraffin wax or petroleum jelly."

as for disposal, the author of that website made contact with a company, who advised that

They told me that I could wrap the lava lamp in newspaper and throw it in the trash. I was told that it was non-toxic. They warned me not to pour the liquid down the sink because it contained wax.

The wax could make a mess of the pipes from your sink if it were to accumulate and solidify, and there is more than enough rubbish and pollutants in the water ways as it is.

Best to consult your local area's rules and regulations as to disposal.

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