• Today is: Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Maker Monday: DIY Lava Lamp

maker monday
Sally Quinn
July17/ 2017

Oil and water don’t mix — except when you combine them in fun S.T.E.A.M. projects like this DIY Lava Lamp.

Create this week’s Kidsburgh Maker Monday project and watch its hypnotic rising blobs of color.

The science behind the magic comes from the fact that water is denser than oil. The evidence is seen in how the oil floats on top of the layer of water. Once you drop a piece of the effervescent tablet into the bottle, and it sinks to the bottom, you can see carbon dioxide being released in the form of tiny bubbles. As the carbon dioxide gas rises through the layers of water and oil, it pushes colored bubble blobs to the surface.

maker monday


Empty plastic bottle, with lid

Effervescent tablets (Alka-Seltzer or generic form)

Cooking oil

Food coloring


maker monday

Fill the water bottle about 3/4 full with oil. Add water to fill.

maker monday

Choose your color and add a few drops to the bottle.

Break two tablets into three or four pieces. Add one piece to watch the groovy show of Lava Lamp blobs. Continue adding pieces as the bubbling stops to keep the show going.

When you’re done with the fun, screw the cap on tightly and save it for another day when you can add more tablet pieces to enjoy your Lava Lamp again.

For variations, add glitter with the food coloring. Turn off the lights and hold a flashlight underneath to make your Lava Lamp glow. Or add a glow stick to give a special effect.

For other Maker Monday projects and fun stuff for kids, visit the Kidsburgh Activities page.

Sally Quinn

Sally Quinn is an award-winning writer and editor who has been covering her favorite city for more than 30 years. She appreciates all that Pittsburgh offers families and has a blast guiding her 10 grandkids to new discoveries. Sally welcomes your comments and story ideas for Kidsburgh.

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