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May 14

Groovy Lava Lamp!!!!

Posted on May 14, 2020 at 10:03 AM by Tiffany Miller

Good Morning Everyone!!

It looks like it is going to be a gorgeous day today. It's nice to see the sun shining. With the chance of rain still in the forecast and being stuck inside, I thought it would be awesome to make our own lava lamps.

Lava Lamps were invented in 1948 by Edward Carven. He was inspired by a egg timer in a pub made of a cocktail shaker filled with alien- looking liquid bubbling on the top of the stove. It took him 15 years to perfect his design. Now with a few simple objects from home you can make your own groovy lamp to enjoy for hours.


  • Effervescent-antacid-and-pain-relieving tablet (e.g. Alka-Seltzer)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Tall clear plastic container (1 or 2 liter bottle)
  • Food coloring in various colors or beet juice


  1. Fill the bottle about 2/3 full with oil.
  2. Add food coloring for color. We like about 8 to 10 droplets.
  3. Fill the rest of the bottle with water, a few inches below the brim.
  4. Add a half or quarter of an antacid tablet, e.g. Alka-Seltzer tablet to the bottle.


Notice the oil floats on top of the colored water. Oil floats on the water because it is less dense than water. The two do not mix because water is composed of polar molecules and oil is composed of nonpolar molecules. When the antacid tablet is dropped into the container of oil and water, the tablet sinks because it is more dense than the oil or the water. Once the tablet hits the water, it begins to dissolve and the chemicals in the tablet react with each other creating bubbles of carbon dioxide gas.

When enough gas enters an area of water, the water and gas combination in this spot becomes less dense than the water around it, so it floats up through the water. If this water-and-gas mixture is less dense than the oil, it floats up through the oil too. The water is attracted to itself and not to the oil, this causes the water-and-gas mixture to move through the oil in a ball-shape.

Once a ball of water and gas gets to the surface, some bubbles of carbon dioxide gas pop, releasing the gas into the air. When enough bubbles pop, the water and remaining gas becomes denser than the oil. The ball of water sinks through the oil and joins the water. Changes in density as gas is added or escapes from water causes it to float up and sink down through the oil creating the lava lamp effect.

This fun science project will have the kids not only having fun, but learning as well. You can add glitter or mix different colors of food coloring together to see what happens. This is a great way to spend some time indoors having fun together. Let us know how your lamps turned out. Make sure you tag us on our ERC Facebook page. Have a fantastic day everyone!!!
Program Supervisor


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