Thursday, January 24, 2013

Make a lava lamp

Before you read this post, I have a confession to make.  I have a school girl crush on Steve Spangler.  He's so dreamy and he makes science fun.  How can any person resist? *Sigh*  Mind you, this isn't my first school girl crush.  Back in grad school I thought my stats professor was super brainy and super dreamy too.  *Double sigh*

Ok... moving on...  Last week Baby Chuck and I made this lava lamp using directions from Steve Spangler's super awesome website.  Doesn't it look cool?

 Here's what it looked like when put a flashlight behind the bottle::
Whoa- swirly sci-fi effects

Want to make your own lava lamp?  (Come on, I know you do!)  If so, read on, fellow crapter!

- empty bottle and cap (we used a soda bottle) <-- crap!
- vegetable oil
- water
- dark food coloring (we chose blue)
- alka-seltzer tablet (divided into smaller pieces)
- flashlight (optional- for alien effect)

1.  Fill your bottle 3/4 full with vegetable oil.  Then, pour water into the bottle until it's almost full.  Make sure to lave enough room at the top of the bottle for the alka-seltzer reaction, otherwise liquid will spill out.
2.  Add 10 drops of food coloring.  (Watch the water turn a different color as the oil remains the same.)
3.  Drop your alka-seltzer pieces one by one into the bottle and watch the water bubble and fizzle.
4.  (Optional:  Put a flashlight behind the bottle and turn off the lights to see sci-fi alien effect)
5.  Once you've dissolve all your alka-seltzer pieces, screw the cap on and tip the bottle back and forth.  Watch the water and oil roll around.  Feel relaxed.


  1. So cool! I always wanted a lava lamp.

  2. does it keep working/ looking like a lava lamp, or does it only last as long as the alka seltzer effect

    1. Unfortunately, it only lasts as long as the reaction. Then it's over. Check out Steve Spangler's website for the scientific reasons and more details. (Link above)

  3. good tip for this one.use a large fizzy-pop bottle,they can take loads of pressure. put the ant-acid tablet in something that will hold the water out for a few seconds (paper), along with a weight(i use marbles). wrap the entire thing in a dishcloth,keeping it long and thin so it fits through the top, and tie the dishcloth so bits of tablet or weight can't escape.

    put the cloth with everything in into the bottle, then put the lid on before the paper or whatever you have used dissolves.

    doing it that way keeps the bubbling at the bottom, streaming up through the oil and water. my flatmate loved it,and after it had finished, he sat tipping the bottle over for about half an hour,then demanded i made another 'fountain'

    I would do it outside or in a messy play area as they can burst if you drop/kick them,or make a right mess if you don't get the lid on in time.

    1. what a cool idea! is this similar to the Mentos fountain? Do you have photos of this being done? (I'm a visual person, so photos really help me out a lot!)

  4. Would Kool-Aid work in place of food coloring?? My 4 year old is wired..trying to get her to calm down a bit :) ty!

    1. You know what? I don't know... hrmm... kool-aid has citric acid in it... which may or may not do something to the lava lamp. Sounds like a great time for experimenting! Liquid watercolor paints would probably work!


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