A Moment of Science

Make Your Own Lava Lamp!

This easy-to-do experiment is a great way to learn about density.

lava lamps in the dark

Photo: Faruk Ateş (flickr)

Groovy lava lamps.

They’re not only groovy… they’re nerdy. Learn how to make your own lava lamp!

What You Will Need:

  • Clean, Plastic Soda Bottle (16 oz Size)
  • Soda Bottle Cap
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Food Coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer Tablet
  • Water

Instructions:

  1. Fill plastic soda bottle 3/4 full with vegetable oil.
  2. Next, fill the remaining portion of the bottle with water (do not overflow).
  3. Now add 10 drops of food coloring. The darker the water, the better.
  4. Divide Alka-Seltzer tablet into 8 pieces.
  5. Drop 1 piece of Alka-Seltzer into the oil and water mixture. When the bubbling stops, add another piece.

What’s Going On?

Oil molecules and water molecules do not mix. When you add the water with the oil, the water sinks to the bottom. The food coloring ONLY mixes with the water.

When you add the Alka-Seltzer tablet, the tablet reacts with the water to create bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. The tiny bubbles grab on to the blobs of colored water and cause them to float to the surface. The blobs sink because the bubbles pop when reaching the surface.

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Margaret Aprison

Margaret is a graduate of Indiana University with a degree in Telecommunications and a minor in Psychology. The daughter of two scientists, Margaret has been surrounded by the subject her entire life. She enjoys social media, writing, television, and, of course, science!

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