Make a Lava Lamp Science Experiment


Make a lava lamp with your preschooler, and your preschooler will love science experiments! I can’t promise that, but Henry has.

Lava lamps are simple to make, too.

Make a Lava Lamp Science Experiment

What you need to make a Lava Lamp:

  • Vegetable oil [or get a clear oil]
  • Water
  • Food coloring of your choice
  • Alka-Selzer Tablets [as many as you choose, the more the merrier!]
  • Clear container [the taller and skinnier, the better the effect]

make a lava lamp

How to make a Lava Lamp:

  1. Fill the container with 2 parts oil, 1 part water. [Leave some room at the top of the container for a little bit of bubbling.]
  2. Drop in a few drops of food coloring
  3. Add an Alka-Selzer Tablet [start with 1/4 or a half a tablet to begin with]
  4. Watch is fizz and bubble up to the top!

make a lava lamp experiment for preschoolers

We did three containers of lava lamps. Three different colors, for triple the lava fun!

make a lava lamp experiment for preschoolers

It took a lot of oil, though. I wish I had more on hand because I didn’t quite have 2/3 for each container. The oil is essentially the lava lamp portion, so it would have been nice to have more of it. But it still worked!

I also wish I had clear oil on hand instead of vegetable oil. But I’m not sure what kind of oil besides baby oil is clear. Any suggestions?

Henry dropped in tablet after tablet. Over and over, watching it bubble up! He used the entire box of Alka-Selzer just for this experiment!

Make a lava lamp science experiment

The green one really captured his attention. Maybe because it’s his favorite color. Or maybe because it was the tallest and skinniest, so it had the best reactions.

Make a lava lamp science experiment

It was even interesting from the top of the bottles. Or, at least Henry thought so.

lava lamp experiment at home

Once we were starting to run out of Alka-Selzer tablets, we started combining the colors and making them bubble together.

We were surprised to see that the colored bubbled remained separate! Can you see the little red ones in the mix of the big blue bubbles?

make a lava lamp activity for kids

What’s your favorite science experiment to do with the kids?

This one might be a toss up with the baking soda and colored vinegar one… They’re both highly intriguing to Henry!

Bern at Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas recently did some Faux Lava Lamps too! In fact, she had entire Mad Science Week! It’s awesome!

Henry is 3 years. George is 1 year.

From our partners



  1. Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas says

    aww, thanks for mentioning us! What fabulous photos you got of the reactions!

    Also I found that the cheaper ($$$) the oil the clearer it was. I got a cheapy, cheapy one and it was not as yellow and worked perfectly – just a tip to test for next time!

  2. Jamie @ hands on : as we grow says

    @Rosie – as long as you have Alka Seltzer Tablets, you can keep adding to it! The vinegar/water will stay good for as long as you want!

  3. Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan says

    One of my goals for this year is to get over my fear of science! This one would be awesome… and easy!

  4. The Iowa Farmer's Wife says

    this is so neat! I'm buying alka selzer today! :) I have a huge bottle of vegetable oil I need to use up. Mineral oil is also clear, but I've only seen it in small bottles. I'm sure it comes larger though!

  5. Science Sparks says

    Oh lava lamps are fab! it was one of our first experiments! Yours are so colourful. Brilliant!

    Thanks for linking to science sparks fun sparks!

  6. Charlotte: says

    Oh yeah, we need to do this! I have such a mental block when it comes to science-y things but I think this looks ace

  7. Kaylee says

    Great project! I had a question…does it really matter what material the bottles are? I’m planning on doing this with my preschool class, and I’m debating whether to stock up on glass bottles/containers, or if I can get away with plastic. Thanks!

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