In the 70s it became a cult object: the lava lamp. And rightly so. Lava lamps are exciting and calming at the same time, especially for children. Therefore, in this manual we would like to show you how to make a lava lamp yourself using simple household remedies.
Of course it would be a huge mess and no less effort to build a lava lamp yourself with light source and cable. Therefore we would like to present you an experiment for children, with which you can achieve almost the same effect. For this very easy DIY instruction you don’t need much, as you will see.
You need for the lava lamp:
Glass bottle or empty preserving jars
Stirring rod or long spoon
Liquid food colouring or Deco Aqua Paint
Water (approx. 50 ml)
Transparent baby oil (approx. 300 ml)
effervescent tablets (e.g. vitamin tablets)
Step 1: Start by pouring the water into the bottle or jar. It should not be too much, as oil will be added.
Step 2: Now the water is coloured. Add some Deco Aqua Colour or liquid food colouring to the water and mix well with a stirring rod or a long spoon.
Step 3: Then add the clear baby oil. It should be enough to make the water layer smaller and the oil layer at least twice as full. Of course, this is only noticeable when the oil has slowly settled above the water. So wait a moment to be able to estimate the exact filling quantity or measure everything with a measuring cup. After adding the oil, wait until the oil has completely settled on top of the coloured water.
Step 4: Now throw an effervescent tablet into the bottle. This will sink to the bottom of the bottle and finally dissolve. This effect causes air bubbles to rise from bottom to top – the water begins to bubble. Since the water is coloured, coloured bubbles can then be seen in the oil. The effect lasts until the tablet has completely dissolved. If this is the case, the next one can be thrown directly after it. Close the used bottle with a cap or with used glass decanters, as in our example, with the appropriate lid, so that also these decanters can be closed well.
Function of the DIY lava lamp
Due to their chemical properties, water and oil do not mix to form a uniform liquid. Oil floats on water – therefore in this experiment two layers form in the bottle – an oil layer and a water layer. The coloured water collects at the bottom, while the oil still rises. This is due to the different density of the two substances.
Oil has a lower density than water and is therefore lighter. As a result, it rises while the heavier water sinks downwards. The consequence is that oil and water can never be mixed.
The effervescent tablets consist of three components: salt (sodium bicarbonate), citric acid and the special active ingredient (e.g. vitamin C). In combination with water, the ingredients dissolve. The carbonic acid in the salt is displaced by the citric acid, which leads to the air bubbles. These rise in the coloured water and finally penetrate the clear oil layer. There the air bubbles are coloured because water is transported upwards with them. Finally, the bubbles burst and the water can escape from them and sink back to the bottom of the bottle.
Here’s our video | manual for “Making your own lava lamp”.