Edward Craven invented lava lamps in 1963, and now you can make your very own DIY lava lamp any day. You really only need 6 things, and you can get them all on your next grocery run. Best part? Stick the lid on the bottle and use the lava lamp again and again!
- Clear plastic bottle or mason jar
- Vegetable oil
- Alka seltzer
- Food coloring
- Glitter (optional)
How to make a DIY lava lamp
It’s fair to note that you can easily turn this into a lesson about density. Water is more dense than oil and sinks to the bottom of the bottle.
Step 1- Add vegetable oil
Use the funnel to add vegetable oil to the clear bottle. Fill the bottle up about 2/3 of the way with vegetable oil. You really can’t mess this up. I actually ended up using the vegetable oil bottle as our clear plastic bottle and we only had about half the oil left in the bottle. The more oil, the more room there will be for “lava” to form!
Step 2- Add water
Use the funnel to fill the bottle 1/3 of the way with water. Obviously, you don’t have to use a funnel either, but my kids love pouring with it!
Step 3- Add food Coloring
This is where it starts to get crazy! Let the kiddos add 3-7 drops of food coloring. Beware, if you get carried away with this step, the lava turns black! My kids got carried away with the food coloring. Oh well 🙂
Step 4- Add Alka Seltzer
Break up the tablets on a plate. I broke them into 4ish pieces each. Then, let the kiddos stick in 1 peice at a time and see what happens! It
A few more tips for making a DIY lava lamp for kids
- I’d recommend making a few lava lamps and using a single color per lamp. (As you can see from above, we did not do this!)
- Add glitter at anytime and see what happens!
- Try shaking up the lava lamp.
How does the lava map work?
Oil and water have different weights or densities. Oil is lighter than water, and stacks on top of the water. The beads of colored water slowly move through the oil and sink because they are heavier. The “lava” happens when water and Alka Seltzer combine and form carbon dioxide. The gas bubbles rise through the oil carrying the colored water. Add more Alka Seltzer to make more carbon dioxide bubbles or “lava”!
Have you ever made DIY lava lamps? I’d love to hear…
If you liked this experiment, check out our fruit volcanoes!