DIY lava Lamp=Art AND Science! I’ve been wanting to try this for awhile….apparently this is a fun project to educate kids about oils and water. Lava lamps are a classic for a reason, and I have heard about people actually constructing them from scratch, but the methodology sounded challenging, (and you have to be careful when dealing with heat and lamps) But this is a whole different ball game.
If you want to try out your very own fizzy lava creation without handling something potentially dangerous, read on! You may have heard about people making “lamps” from oil, water, dye,Alka-Seltzer tablets and an upcycled water bottle. Well, this is it! (Except that I didn’t use Alka-Seltzer…read on to see what I found that worked just as well!)
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A lava lamp-well, not really a “lamp” but you get the idea! in a simple water bottle-here’s what I used:
- One empty water bottle, size about 20 oz
- Food colorants
- Citric acid
- Baking soda
- Cooking oil
I filled the water bottle a little bit over half full with cooking oil. If you want to try this, look for vegetable, corn, canola, something in that neighborhood. I wouldn’t use olive or hemp oil as they are kind of dark looking. Let’s reserve those as my personal “cooking oils” LOL. You can use a funnel, but I find that pouring slowly keeps it mess free.
Now fill it up (but leave about an inch from the top) what space that remains, with warm/hot water. If you use water at a warmer temp it will create friskier bubbles.
Adding the food dye…this is dependent on the preferred color. I used seven drops-five red, and two blue, to get a purple color. I kind of wanted a more violet kind of purple, I think that might have taken six drops of red= one drop of blue. As you can see, it sinks to the bottom of the bottle.
Now comes the fun. Every article says to use Alka-Seltzer tablets, But I must be out-I used to have those on hand but may have used them up. However two ingredients, I have on hand-that are present in these effervescent antacid tablets-sodium bicarbonate (also known as that wonderful cleaning and deodorizing agent baking soda) and citric acid.
You may be familiar with citric acid if you’ve ever done home canning projects or made bath salts and fizzies-it supposedly acts as a preservative, and it will fizz under the right conditions. I have also heard that you can use salt, unsure of the science behind it, but OK.
I first added a half a teaspoon of citric acid…didn’t see much movement, the color dye at the bottom did start to rise up a little. Then I added one more half teaspoon-about the same.
Remembering that I had a box of baking soda under the sink, I reached for that, and added a half teaspoon of it. And then…wowza! Then the rest of the whole teaspoon, so as to make sure I had equal parts of both. That’s when it took off – Look at those bubbles go!
Not sure I love that purple color much…but DO like that action…If I do make another one of these, I think I will stick with red, orange, green…Anyway, the fizzy bubble action lasted for about a half-hour when I last checked. In the meantime, I found another trick..,.
If you really want to get a fun effect, check your phone to see if you’ve got a flashlight feature or app and switch it on , set your new lava bottle on top-wow, your kids will love this!
There you go-the effects of the bubbles continued on for about a half hour before going “dormant”.
To “restart”, break another Alka Seltzer tablet or just follow my baking soda/citric acid combo above. Have fun!