Lava Lamp

Make your own lava lamp at home!

Scientific name: Released CO2 gas lifts denser phase to the lighter one.


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Аспирин и три слоя несмешиваемых жидкостей


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Wear eye protection goggles.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

3NaHCO3 + C6H8O7 → 3CO2 + 3H2O + Na3C6H5O7

Step-by-step instruction

  1. To perform this experiment, prepare a plastic bottle, vegetable oil, food coloring, water and fizzing tablets like aspirin or Alka-Seltzer.
  2. Pour some oil into the bottle (about 1/3).
  3. Fill the rest of the volume with water.
  4. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  5. Break the tablet into a few parts. Drop one of them into the bottle.
  6. The tablet starts fizzing and the released gas catches some colored water to the oil phase providing the lava-lamp effect. To keep it going add another piece of the tablet.

Scientific background

Since oil and water have different densities they do not mix with each other. Oil is lighter than water and lies on top of the water. The added tablet sinks to the bottle bottom and starts dissolving releasing CO2 gas. As a rule such tablets contain citric acid and baking soda. When these components come into contact with water a chemical reaction producing sodium citrate, water and carbon dioxide begins. The gas bubble catches some water and delivers it to the oil phase. When the gas reaches the surface it escapes and there are no more forces to keep water in the lighter phase. The water blob settles under the action of gravity.


Published on 08 October 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst