How to make your own lava lamp: Science Course with Ryan Morse

Beyond The Forecast

(WFRV) – Lava lamps – they are cool to look at and have been around since 1963 according to the Smithsonian Magazine. Invented by Edward Craven Walker, the light fixture has withstood the test of time, but how can you make your own?

Do it yourself Experiment:

To make your own lava lamp this is what you will need: Vegetable oil, water, food coloring, Alka-Seltzer and a glass.

Steps:
  1. Fill the glass you have about 3/4 full of vegetable oil
  2. Top off the last 1/4 with water leaving some room at the top of the glass
  3. Add about 10 drops of food coloring
  4. Break an Alka-Seltzer tablet into a few pieces and drop it into the glass
  5. Watch the reaction
How does it work?

Density and polarity play a major factor. The water will sink to the bottom of the glass because it is denser or more compact. Oil will seem to float on top of the water because it is less compact or dense than the water. The food coloring will also sink to the bottom because it is water-based and denser.

Polarity, in simple terms, is the distribution of electrical charge over the atoms joined by the bond. If the electrons over a bond are not equally shared, then the molecule is polar. If electrons are equally shared, then the molecule is non-polar. Oil is non-polar and water is, therefore they do not mix.

The Alka-Seltzer reacts in the water to produce carbon dioxide bubbles that stick to water droplets. Together they become less dense allowing them to rise through the oil. Eventually, the Alka-Seltzer fizzles ending the reaction and returning the mixture to colored water and oil in just a few minutes.

Most lava lamps are powered by heat that causes the liquid at the bottom to rise to the top. However, these lamps are trickier and use more hazardous material.

For more Science Course with Ryan Morse, click below

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