What makes this natural and scientific lava lamp especially cool is that you can create it with no electricity. A surprisingly easy, not-too-messy science experiment that will entertain kids for hours, this lava lamp can stick around and be reignited with a good shake or single drop of Alka-Seltzer.
Based on a water and vegetable oil science experiment for kids, you can get them engaged by asking questions like, “What do you think will happen when we add the vegetable oil to the water, the food coloring, and then the Alka-Seltzer?”
DIY Lava Lamp
- Recycled glass bottle or jar
- 8 cups water
- 5 cups vegetable oil
- Liquid food color
- 4-5 tablets of Alka-Seltzer
1. Fill jar ¼ with water
2. Fill rest of jar with vegetable oil until almost full
3. Add a few drops of food coloring
4. Drop in ½ tablet of Alka-Seltzer
What happens is that the water sinks to the bottom of the bottle while the vegetable oil floats on top. The water is heavier and more dense than the vegetable oil. This means the vegetable oil molecules are larger and take up more space than the water molecules. Encourage kids to think of a ball pit, where sand will fall through to the bottom of the pit, while the larger balls stay floating at the top.
The food coloring will also drop below the vegetable oil and mix with the water, as it is the same density.
Adding the Alka-Seltzer will ignite tiny carbon dioxide bubbles and create a gas that breaks through the top oil layer. This causes a reaction called emulsion, which causes the two liquids, the vegetable oil and water, to mix together.
Producer: Annalise Yuri Murphy
Art Director: Tim Sullivan