Lava Lamp Experiment

Try The Lava lamp Experiment To Learn About Density With Some Colorful And Groovy Bubbling Blobs

Science helps us unravel the concepts of the universe, living and non-living beings, compounds, elements, nature, etc. But the science lessons in the textbooks can sometimes be a bit monotonous and difficult to comprehend. Make science more exciting and easy to learn by conducting a simple experiment at home. An abstract concept in a textbook becomes clearer when you see it happening in front of you. Help your child understand the lessons on density and acid-base reactions with the lava lamp experiment.

You’ll find a plethora of amazing science experiments for kids online and in textbooks to guide children with easy science experiments. One such experiment is the lava lamp experiment! The name itself sounds cool but the result of this experiment turns out to be much cooler! Jazz up a lazy afternoon and wow your kids with this Alka seltzer experiment. 

Why Should You Try The Lava Lamp Experiment?

Kids are curious creatures, they learn better when they can explore things on their own. So it is essential to let children experiment with things around them to develop an early interest in science. Does your kid love lava lamps and find them magical? You can create the magic right in front of their eyes with a simple Alka seltzer experiment. The lava lamp experiment is a fun and easy way to understand the chemical reaction between acids and bases. Additionally, it also helps kids understand the density of different substances. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to performing the lava lamp experiment at home with your child.

Materials You Need To Perform The Lava Lamp Experiment

You don’t need a lot of things to perform the lava lamp experiment at home. All the things you need are inexpensive and easily available at home.

Here is a list of things you’ll need to perform this experiment:

  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Orange food coloring (or any food coloring of your choice)
  • 2 clear glass tumblers or jars 
  • Alka Seltzer tablets, and
  • A small cup

Steps To Set-Up The Lava Lamp Experiment

This is an easy experiment. However, it does need adult supervision. Here is a step-by-step guide to performing the experiment.

  • Step 1: Add ½ cup of water to the glass jar or tumbler. Add some orange food coloring to the glass of water and mix with a spoon till you have an orange liquid.  
  • Step 2: Break the Alka-Seltzer tablets into two or three pieces and place them in the small cup.
  • Step 3: Fill the second glass tumbler or jar with vegetable oil till the glass is 3/4 full. 
  • Step 4: Now, pour the colored water into this container with the oil until the container is almost full. But be sure to leave at least 1-2 inches of space at the top, so that it doesn’t overflow. 
  • Step 5: Add the Alka Seltzer tablet to this mixture of colored water and vegetable oil. You’ll notice that orange-coloured bubbles float up and down in the jar like a lava lamp!

Note: Don’t overfill the container as it can overflow and get messy. And make sure that your child DOES NOT put the Alka-Seltzer in their mouth at any time.

Conduct An Interactive Session With Your Kid After The The Lava Lamp Experiment

You can make the lava lamp experiment more interesting by conducting a round of question and answer sessions with your child. This session helps your child understand the science behind the lava lamp experiment.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What did you observe from the lava lamp experiment?
  • What do you think happened to the oil and colored water mixture after the Alka-Seltzer tablets were added to them?
  • Did you learn anything new from the lava lamp experiment?
  • What happens when you add more Alka-Seltzer tablets after all the bubbling action stops?

The Science Behind The Lava Lamp Experiment

What are those bubbling blobs in the lava lamp experiment?

They are blobs of colored water.

Water and oil do not mix. This is because they both have different densities.  Oil is lighter than water, which is why it floats on top and doesn’t mix. 

The food coloring is water-soluble, so only the water changes color and the oil does not. 

When Alka-Seltzer tablets are added to the vegetable oil and water mixture, the tablets react with the water and forms carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is released in the form of bubbles. The bubbles attach themselves to the blobs of colored water and moves to the top of the glass. When the bubbles pop at the surface, the blob of colored water falls to the bottom of the glass. This continues until the Alka-Seltzer is completely used up.

Why doesn’t the oil mix with the water?

Oil is made up of long chains of carbon, which are hydrophobic (afraid of water) and do not carry a charge. Water, on the other hand, is made up of highly charged compounds that are hydrophilic (love water). The hydrophobic carbon chains without charge are not attracted to water molecules, which is why oil and water don’t mix.

Why does the Alka Seltzer form bubbles when it’s added to the liquid?

Alka Seltzer is made up of sodium bicarbonate (base) and citric acid. So it is both an acid and a base. So, when it is added to water the acid and the base react to form a gas called, carbon dioxide. This gas is released in the form of bubbles.