Make a Lava Lamp Science Experiment

SciencePreschoolers63 Comments

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-Seltzer Tablets (as many as you choose, the more the merrier!)
  • Clear container (the taller and skinnier, the better the effect)

Don’t have Alka Seltzer? See how to make a lava lamp without Alka Seltzer!

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 with the kids!

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.

Mixing colors would be a fun addition to this lava lamp experiment! We learned about mixing colors in the magic color changing milk experiment, it was a blast!

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!

5 weekly plans of activities for each one year olds, two year olds, and preschoolers (plus a learning one too!)

activity plans preschoolers-20150419-1-2The ENGAGE eBook of 5 weekly plans of activities is perfect for the preschooler age. Fun ways to get the kids moving, work on fine motor, do arts and craft projects and have fun as a family! Each weekly plan includes a handy supply list and activities broken down to know exactly what to do in a simple sentence or two.

Get your weekly activity plans here.

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  1. Amy says

    I have done this for years, but without the Alka Seltzer (very cool addition). This is great to do in empty water bottles, and you can glue the lid shut. My daughter loved this as a baby and still loves her “wave bottle” as a toddler. I can’t wait to do it again as a science project with the Alka Seltzer!

  2. Jen smith says

    Coconut oil is clear. If you get the one that melts at a lower temp it should work great. I have a 70 or 75 degree one that never gets solid unless I put it in the fridge. :) this is a cute idea!

  3. Amanda says

    Try it with neon food coloring, turn off the lights and then sit the bottle (we use water bottles) on top of a flashlight! Very cool effect. Don’t put the lid back on though until you are through bc it’ll stop your fizzy action. :). We also discovered that the less you shake it, the cooler it looks.

  4. gemma chadwick says

    I’m sure that Safflower oil (can get in most larger supermarkets) is almost water like in colour bit more expensive than vegetable oil but effects would be great x

  5. Wendy says

    Greta idea – looks like so much fun! I can’t wait to try it with my grandchildren! I found bulk white, food grade mineral oil online for only $13.97 for 7 1/2 lbs – and they had even larger, as well. Might be worth the effort for continued explorations!

  6. Heather says

    You asked about alternative CLEAR OIL to use. I was a teacher of toddlers and preschoolers. MINERAL OIL is clear, cheap, and works. You can find it in pharmacy sections of stores where the laxatives are found. It is meant for possible ingestion so if accidentally swallowed or comes in contact with little mouths.. it is ok… Hope this helps.

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