How to make lava lamp without alka seltzer

Looking for funny ways to introduce science to kids? This How to make lava lamp without alka seltzer tutorial will help you with that.

With a homemade lava lamp, you will have an easy way to explain density to young kids. Plus you can turn it into a nice activity during birthday parties or play-dates.

How to make a lava lamp without Alka Seltzer tablets

For the glowing effect, use a torch lamp or your phone :p to light up the bottle or the cup.

Time needed: 5-10 minutes.

You will need:

  • Vegetable Oil
  • Vinegear
  • Food coloring
  • Long bottle or cup – WARNING: do not close the bottle or put a lid on the cup
  • Small cup
  • Spoon
  • Baking soda

Instructions to make your own lava lamp

1 | Add the baking soda

Start by getting an empty bottle or a tall cup. It will be easier to watch the bubbles move in a tall container.

Then add three spoons of baking soda

2 | Add the oil

In this step, you will be filling two third of your tall container with oil.
The baking soda will stay on the bottom for the container, do not try to mix it with the oil.

We used a regular cooking oil.

3 | Mix the vinegar and the food coloring

On the small container (not the one you have been using on the previous steps), add some vinegar and three drops of food coloring.

4 | Let the magic begin

Now that everything is ready, you can add drops of the colored vinegar to your big container and start watching your homemade lava lamp.

Do not empty the vinegar at once, instead do it progressively to make this fun science experiment last.

For a glowing effect, you can turn off the light and use a torch to light up your container.

Here is a little video we made to capture this fun experiment!

To learn more about the history of the lava lamp, check out this article.

Here is the evolution of the lava lamp we witnessed with red food coloring.

DIY Lava Lamp experiment explanation

Oil and vinegar do not have the same density. Vinegar is more dense than the vegetable oil we are using in this science experiment. That’s why it sinks to the bottom of the container.
Once the vinegar touches the bottom of the container, it reacts with the baking soda. This chemical reaction creates bubbling carbon dioxide – these are the bubbles you see within the container.

If you enjoy science experiments for kids, give this magic milk experiment a try.

Homemade Lava lamp experiment with salt

If you do not want to use baking soda or vinegar, you can make your own lava lamp with salt.

Start by filling your tall container with two third of water.

Add a bit of vegetable oil and wait until a layer is formed. Oil and Water do not have the same density and won’t mix.

Then add some salt and watch. The reaction is a bit less impressive than with baking soda or Alka Seltzer but still very cool to watch!

And here is a little video.

 How to make lava lamp without alka seltzer – Pin me for later


View Comments (34)

  • I found this website very helpful thank you as I didn't want to buy Alka Setzer x

  • Hi,

    I was just wondering if I were to do this with salt, how long will this lava lamp last? I am assuming until the salt has disappeared? And can I add more salt once its gone to keep the lava lamp going? I would really appreciate if you help me with my queries!

    • Hello,

      Yes you can add more salt to reactivate it but you will need a very large amount for a quite small effect. I think it's worth doing only once or twice with salt.

    • Hello, yes you can use olive oil instead. Vegetable oil is less expensive that's why it is more frequently used.

    • You can still see the bubbles without any food colouring it is just a little less impressive.

  • We have just made this it's great fun but just a gentle note
    We've just had an explosion all over the kitchen!!!😂😂
    Think I'll stick with my day job!! #notascienceteacher

  • Can you show me a real video on how to actually make it step by step!!!??? Pls bruhdudey guys

    • It last for 3 to 5 minutes. You can keep on pouring vineager if you still have baking soda at the bottom of the cup.

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