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DIY Water Bottle Lava Lamp
This is a terrific way to make an easy, quick, and affordable lava lamp, without the use of electricity! Children love creating these at parties as an activity, then taking them home as a favor. It’s also a great visual aid for teaching force & motion and cause & effect (i.e.., noting how the chemical reaction between the Alka-Seltzer and water sends the water up through the oil), as well as viscosity and consistency of liquids (i.e.., noting how the oil and water don’t mix, yet the food coloring and water do). You can also add different food colorings drop by drop to demonstrate color blending.
Experimenting with a variety of oil and food coloring can make for some really cool color combinations. Corn oil is naturally yellow and goes well with red, blue, and green. Vegetable oil is practically clear and showcases any color, especially black, purple, and orange. Also, each kind of oil will have a slightly different effect on the size and rate of the bubbles, since the thicker it is, the slower the bubbles will rise.
- Bottles of water, any size
- Vegetable oil, any type
- Liquid food coloring, any color
- Alka-Seltzer anti-acid tablets
- Drink or pour out most of the water, leaving approximately 1/4th in each bottle. Remove the label.
- Fill the bottle almost up to the top with vegetable oil, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
- Add the food coloring, drop by drop, until the water reaches the desired hue.
- Break the Alka-Seltzer tablets into small pieces, about half an inch in size. The pieces don’t need to be even.
- Drop the Alka-Seltzer pieces into the bottle. It’ll drop to the bottom and immediately begin fizzing, sending the colored water up through the oil in a cool stream of bubbles. Add more as the bubbles slow down, or as desired.
Notes & warnings:
Never put the lid on the water bottle while the Alka-Seltzer is still bubbling; it could build up pressure, which could make the bottle explode.
Food coloring will stain, even more so when mixed with oil. Make sure kids are supervised whenever the bottles are open. This is a great project to do outside.
Use the cheapest bottles of water you can find, any size works, just make sure their labels can easily be removed.
If you make these at a party and send them home with children, make sure the parents are aware that they have food coloring and Alka-Seltzer. It’s a good idea to make sure you have enough Alka-Seltzer to send at least one extra tablet home with each person, since they’ll want to show their cool little lava lamp off to everyone!