The purpose of this article is to show you how to make homemade lava lamps, as well as discuss how they work and what is inside them.
Lava lamps have been part of our cultural iconography for decades, probably at least half a century now. They have typically been reserved as items, even novelties bought in retail shops all over. But few people know that you can actually make
What are homemade lava lamps?
Well, they are essentially the same as what you buy in the store albeit in a more DYI fashion. They can be made with relatively simple supplies, in a short amount of time, and they are a great science experiment to do with your kids.
Supplies and ingredients (What is in lava lamps):
- A glass container or hard plastic container with a lid
- Baby oil (or vegetable oil)
- Food dye
- Alka-Seltzer or a mix of baking soda and citric acid (or baking soda and vinegar, or just salt)
Instructions (how to make homemade lava lamps):
1. Fill the container a third of the way full of water
2. Add baby oil, filling the rest container. The oil will separate, staying on top of the water.
3. Scatter a few drops of food dye (you pick the colors). The will sink and change the water color.
4. Smash one Alka-Seltzer tab into small pieces. Put them in the container piece by piece.
4.1 (For the baking soda and citric acid mixture: add 1 spoon scoop of baking soda to 2 scoops of citric acid. Then add the mix to the container.
4.2 For the baking soda and vinegar mix: Add 2 large scoops of baking soda to the water, before putting it in the container. Then add the baby oil and food dye, followed by the vinegar.
4.3 Conversely, you can just use salt by adding a large amount of the salt to the oil and water. FYI: Using just salt will result in a less reactive homemade lava lamp, producing fewer bubbles.
5. Sit back and look at your homemade lava lamp as it bursts into a flurry of bubbles. If the bubbles disappear (or you just want more of them) add more Alka-Seltzer (or DIY mixture).
6. Leave the lid off your contain as the mixture is bubbling. You can put the lid on oncethe Alka-Seltzer has dissolved, saving your homemade lava lamp for later (just add more if you want more bubbles).
How does a lava lamp work
Homemade lava lamps are essentially a science experiment that works because the oil is less dense or lighter than the water, and it floats on top of it. Because the food dye has the same density as water, it falls through the oil, mixing with it.
When you drop the Alka-Seltzer in, it sinks to the bottom and dissolves. As it does so, it emits carbon dioxide as a gas. Because gas and air are lighter than water, it floats to the surface. The air bubbles carry some dyed water to the surface. As the air escapes from the colored water, the water becomes heavier and sinks. Then it repeats until the Alka-Seltzer is gone.
NOTE: If you just use salt, it is heavier than the other options and it will fall through the oil, carrying some of the oil into the water. Once the salt dissolves completely, the oil that was carried down will float back up to the top.
If you’d rather not gather all the materials yourself or if you are just looking for a kit that walks you through the steps, then check out these options:
This is a little different than a normal lava lamp, less homemade and more store bought, but the idea is the same, so is the effect. It’s still fun and enjoyable.
This is a fun product that essentially gives you everything you need, and most of the stuff listed above for an affordable price. The downside is you won’t be able to say you made a homemade lava lamp completely DIY. But that’s okay, sometimes life is too chaotic for DIY. Either eat you and your kids will be glad you tried this fun experiment.