My son LOVES to do science experiments. We have several different experiment books, all sorts of science kits, and a whole cabinet full of ingredients for experimenting. Sometimes he likes to follow the directions and do an actual experiment, and other times he enjoys mixing things together to form his own creations! I have found that purchasing random ingredients from the Dollar Store keeps us both happy. I don’t mind that he is wasting these ingredients on his bizarre experiments, and he is happy that he can have free reign to be the scientist he wants to be!
When he’s in the mood to follow directions, elephant toothpaste is one of his favorite experiments. It’s pretty simple, only requires a few ingredients, and provides an immediate and impressive result. The experiment gets the name Elephant Toothpaste because the reaction causes a large quantity of foam to come out of the bottle at a rapid pace, thus producing a substance that looks like a giant pile of sudsy toothpaste. We did this experiment at my son’s birthday party, and ALL of the kids were extremely impressed!
2 T warm water
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup 6% hydrogen peroxide. I got mine at Sally’s Beauty Supply, and they call it 20 Volume Clear Developer. This is not the hydrogen peroxide that you can get from CVS or Walmart. It is a stronger potency.
food coloring (optional)
squirt of Dawn dish soap
In an empty water bottle, squirt approximately 1 T of Dawn dish soap and add a few drops of food coloring. Add 1/2 cup of the 20 Volume Developer (6% hydrogen peroxide) to the bottle. In a separate cup, mix 2 T warm water with 1 tsp yeast and stir until dissolved. Using a funnel, pour the yeast mixture into the water bottle and quickly remove the funnel. The mixture will react suddenly and should produce a large foamy tube!
If you have an inquisitive child, like I do, who loves to do the experiments but also needs to know HOW they are possible…Here’s an easy explanation:
Each of the tiny foam bubbles that were produced is filled with oxygen. The yeast acted as a helper to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Since it did this very quickly, it created lots and lots of bubbles at the same time. Since there was not enough room in the bottle for all of the bubbles, they exploded out the top like a volcano. Did you notice that the bottle got warm once the “toothpaste” came out? Your experiment created a reaction called an exothermic reaction-that means it not only created foamy bubbles, it also created heat!