BrainStorms: Science with Scottlin – Lava Lamps

Science With Scottlin

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In this experiment, we will make one of those cool, groovy lava lamps!

GRAB YOUR INGREDIENTS: a clear glass, water, food coloring, vegetable oil, alka seltzer, and glitter (optional). Most, if not all of these things can be found around the house.

STEP 1: Fill your glass 1/4 of the way full with water.

STEP 2: Add in a few drops of your favorite color of food coloring. This is also the point where you will add in the optional glitter. Twirl the glass to mix this.

STEP 3: Fill the remainder of the glass with vegetable oil, just leave a little room so that there is no over-fill.

STEP 4: Drop in an alka seltzer tablet and wait for the reaction to begin.

REMEMBER DENSITY? This is why the oil floats to the top. It is less dense than the colored water and prefers to stick with molecules of it’s kind.

Science behind this experiment: The alka seltzer tablets are a mixture of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, which is better known as baking soda. When it is added to water, it begins to react as we can see the acid and sodium bicarbonate begin to form carbon dioxide gas bubbles which rise through the oil carrying the colored water. Then, when carbon dioxide is released, the bubbles pop and the colored water falls back down since again, water and oil can’t mix. Another really cool thing about this experiment is that once everything has settled, you can put the lid on your jar and store it away for another time. All you’ll need to do is add in more alka seltzer when you’re ready.

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