Groovy Science Activity – Make Your Own Lava Lamp

Groovy Science Activity - Make Your Own Lava Lamp

Pinterest can be a homeschool moms’ best friend.  With a quick search you can find interesting activities and creative projects for just about any subject.

My friend Megan does a wonderful job of using Pinterest to support her homeschool lessons.  I, on the other hand, tend to “pin” a number of great ideas and then forget about them.

Today our friends at iHomeschool Networks are comparing their Pinterest Filps and Flops so I decided it was a good time to let my kids select a project for us to try too.

Groovy Lava Lamp

This Groovy Lava Lamp is the project my son selected.  What a fun photo – who doesn’t love a lava lamp!

Groovy Lava Lamp

This project looked like it would be fairly easy to complete AND it sounded like we might even learn a thing or two in the process.

This homemade lava lamp does not use heat to move the water through the oil, instead it uses the fizz from an antacid tablet.


It’s always a plus when the supply list is short and includes items easily found around the house.

  • Clear plastic bottle (we followed their recommendations exactly and used a 500 milliliter bottle)
  • Vegetable Oil (we decided to experiment with baby oil too)
  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Pie Pan (we used a tray)
  • Effervescent antacid tablets such as Alka-Seltzer

Lava Lamp Supplies


These are the basic steps included with the original project:

  1. Fill the bottle halfway with oil, then add water to an inch from the top.  Add 10 drops of food coloring
  2. Place bottle on pan to catch any spills. Cut or break antacid tablet into quarters and drop one quarter into the bottle.  When bubbling slows add another 1/4 tablet to get it started again.
  3. To store, wait until bubbles have completely dispersed and then add cap to the top of the bottle (this prevents gas from building up in the bottle).

A quick science lesson

Oil and water don’t mix.  In fact, water is denser than oil.  In this activity the food coloring will mix with the water and sink to the bottom of the bottle.

When the antacid tablets are dropped into the bottle they will sink to the bottom.  The antacid tablet will create carbon dioxide bubbles of colored water that will move upward.  As the bubbles disperse they will float back down to the bottom.  To start the process again, simply add another antacid tablet.

Groovy Lava Lamp

Our process

We created 3 different lava lamps, slightly altering the conditions each time.  My son wanted to find out if we would receive different results using a different type of oil.

  • First – we followed the instructions as noted above
  • Second – we used baby oil instead of vegetable oil
  • Third – we combined baby oil and vegetable oil (1/4 bottle of each)

With each bottle we also dropped in different amounts of the antacid tablet (from 1/4 up to a full tablet) to watch the results.

This is a clip from our bottle with blue food coloring and vegetable oil:

Pinterest Flip or Flop?

Overall we would agree this was a Pinterest Flip.  The supplies were appropriate, the instructions clear, and the results consistent with the original article.

The only item we would consider a Pinterest Flop is the photo of the original project.  The multi-colored background in the photo was very interesting and it created a unique look through the bottle, however, that background had NOTHING to do with the lava lamp itself!

Also, the instructions told us to wait until the bubbles dispersed before putting the cap back on the bottle, therefore it would not really be possible to get the look in the photo with the cap in place and bubbles in the bottle.

Pnterest Flip or Flop Lava Lamp

Next Steps

We are quite happy with our new lava lamp collection and we are ready for another project.

If you have a favorite activity your family found on Pinterest be sure to leave us a comment and link below.  Our kids are looking for more projects for the next “Pinterest Flip or Flop” challenge!

If you need some ideas you can always visit our Education Possible Pinterest Boards.

You can also check out some more fun Pinterest Flips & Flops today at iHomeschool Network.


This post is linked up to the Finishing Strong link-up.Finishing Strong homeschooling the middle & high school years


  1. How cool! I will have to try this with my oldest daughter! She’s too old for so many projects, but I think she’ll find this really cool!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Shannen — I hope your daughter enjoys the lava lamp! My son has all 3 sitting on the shelf in his room now. These don’t light up, but he shines the flashlight through them to see if he can still get a similar look to a real lamp. It’s fun to find projects our older kids enjoy.

  3. I ove this idea! My high schooler would love to do it, and it would be a great break from her studies, it’s been a really busy year for her.

  4. Thanks for such a “groovy” experiment for kids! I think this would be a great take-home activity for a birthday party or sleepover!

    • Oh, what a great idea Bonnie! I might need to start saving some really fun bottles for my kids’ friends to share. Thanks for stopping by and for the idea 🙂

  5. I want to do this and I know my kids will too! Thanks for sharing at the After School Linky Party!

  6. elin Smith says:

    Was there a difference in the baby oil or the vegetable oil? Did you prefer one over the other? Did one look better? Thanks.

  7. Great post, thank you! What were your results with the 3 separate tries- curious as to the baby oil in particular.