Did you ever have a lava lamp when you were growing up? I always enjoyed watching the bubbles and blobs bounce around the decorative lamp. And while we don’t currently have a lava lamp in our home (so the comparison is completely lost on my toddler), we still enjoyed every minute of this Lava Lamp Experiment!
Did you know that lava lamps were invented by a British accountant in 1963? Or that the colorful blobs that float around inside the glass vessel are made of a special wax mixture, that when heated by the lightbulb, changes in density and viscosity and becomes buoyant? They really are a fascinating invention!
I came across the idea to create a DIY Lava Lamp on Lil’ Luna (https://lilluna.com/diy-lava-lamps/). Kristyn shared this fun and simple idea that utilizes vegetable oil, water, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer. I decided to alter our Lava Lamp Experiment just a tad, to use baby oil instead, because I wanted the liquid to be clear (as opposed to the yellowish hue of veggie oil).
Lava Lamp Experiment
- Clear plastic bottle, emptied (I used a Voss bottle)
- Baby Oil
- Food Coloring (we used purple from our neon set)
- Alka-Seltzer Tabs
- Fill the empty, clear plastic bottle a little over 1/2-full with baby oil. Fill the remainder of the bottle (leaving a 1-inch gap at the top) with water.
- Place approximately 10 drops of food coloring (in the color of your choosing) into the bottle. The food coloring will sink to the bottom and color the water only (since standard food coloring and oil do not mix).
- When ready, break an Alka-Seltzer tab into quarters. Drop one piece into the bottle (you can leave the lid off of the bottle) and watch the amazing lava lamp reaction. Each piece of Alka-Seltzer produced approximately 1-minute of colorful reactions with the oil and water. Once the reaction stopped, we dropped in another tab!
- Feel free to continue dropping Alka-Seltzer into the bottle to re-create the lava lamp experiment. We must have dropped-in more than 20 pieces the very first day, and then we got the bottle back out randomly throughout the week, and continued creating more lava lamps – it worked each and every time!
The wonderful thing about this lava lamp experiment (aside from the super cool and colorful reaction that takes place inside the bottle) is that once you’re finished with the Alka-Seltzer, and all of the water blobs have settled back to the bottom, it turns into a pretty awesome oil/water sensory bottle (once you put the lid back on, of course).
We had a blast making our lava lamps, and then we enjoyed looking at all of the pretty bubbles that were created when we capped the bottle and shook it up! Don’t you just love an activity that provides two different sensory experiences for the price of one?