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Monday, May 13, 2013

Homemade "lava lamp"

by Andrea Mulder-Slater, KinderArt.com

What you are about to read is part science activity, part art project. It's also a great deal of fun for all ages.

First, gather:

  • Vegetable Oil
  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer Tablets 
  • A Bottle

Once you have gathered all your supplies, it's a good idea to protect your work surface. We used an old picnic tablecloth.


  1. Pour vegetable oil into a bottle until it is about 2/3 full.
  2. Then add some water to nearly fill the bottle.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring. We used blue.
  4. Break an Alka-Seltzer tablet into small pieces.  
  5. Drop a piece of tablet into the bottle.
  6. Watch what happens.
  7. Repeat!

The food coloring will mix with the water but will not mix with the oil.  This alone is enough to create the effect of a lava lamp (when the bottle is manually shaken). However, the real magic begins once the Alka-Seltzer tablets are added.

Alka-Seltzer tablets contain citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). When you drop the tablet pieces into the oil and water mixture, the citric acid and baking soda react, creating a "fizz". This fizz forces the colorful water bubbles to move around the oil mixture - thus creating a "lava lamp" effect.

Don't have Alka-Seltzer tablets? You can use baking soda and vinegar instead!

Try it yourself and let us know how it turns out.

Until next time. Keep creating!

Find thousands of FREE art lesson plans at KinderArt.com.  

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