How to Make a Lava Lamp With Baking Soda

Lava lamps are a classic example of what the phrase “cool science” is all about. They look great, and they make for some entertaining experiments with kids. A lava lamp consists of two parts: oil and water.

The oil rises to the top while the heavier water sinks, creating an effect that looks like bubbling hot wax in a lava lamp! We’ll show you how to make a lava lamp with baking soda or other household items at home in this post! 

10 Ways on How to Make a Lava Lamp

1. Pour Baking Soda Into Water

To give your lava lamp a chemical kick, pour baking soda into the water. As it bubbles up, it will cause an exciting reaction with the oil and create a whole new experience!

2. Pour Vinegar Into Water

Instead of water and baking soda, you can also try vinegar in your lava lamp. As the bubbles rise to the top, they’ll pop, and you’ll be left with the vinegar smell as a reminder that this science experiment is super easy to make!

3. Add Food Coloring

A classic lava lamp has red goo floating on top of yellowy goo. But you can mix it up a bit by adding different food colors to your lava lamp!

4. Make a Frozen Lava Lamp With Milk or Orange Juice

Mix milk or orange juice in with your water for a cool frozen lava lamp experience. The thicker liquids will sink but not freeze, leaving you with a frozen lava lamp!

5. Add Food B granules or Corn Syrup

Baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring get boring after a while. To make your lava lamp experiments more exciting again, try adding some Baking Powder from the kitchen to create an extra bubbling reaction!

6. Pour In a Different Liquid

The recipe for your lava lamp is very versatile, so you can easily mix it up by pouring in something completely different from the water! For example, try combining oil and alcohol to make your own reaction experiment.

7. Mix a Solution of Salt in Water

Mix a solution of salt in water for an exciting lava lamp. The salt will give it a cool, icy feel that you’ve never experienced before!

8. Pour in Some Liquid Glue

Another alternative to water is liquid glue! The thicker consistency of the glue will rise and fall between the oil and vinegar, bringing a whole new experience to your lava lamp with baking soda. 

9. Add Vegetable Oil Instead of Olive Oil

The most common lava lamp recipe includes olive oil and water. It’s a pretty good mixture, but you can spice things up by switching to vegetable oil instead! It’ll add an interesting smell while still creating the classic rising and falling effect.

10. Add Shaving Cream or Cola

If your lava lamp mixture is too runny, try adding some shaving cream to the mix and stirring until it becomes thicker! This works especially well if your lava lamp isn’t producing many reactions and needs an extra kick. 

You Can Check It Out to Make Lava Lamp Without Alka Seltzer

10 Reasons Why You Should Make a Lava Lamp With Baking Soda

  • It’s fun and creative!
  • You can use what you already have at home (if not, quite cheap to buy)
  • Takes about 15 minutes and supplies are easy to find
  • Does a great science experiment for the kids – or fall asleep watching one of them!
  • Works with LED candles
  • Works for all ages – it’s mesmerizing!
  • A fun get-together activity if you have your friends over
  • It’s a great conversation starter
  • You can add different things to the soda (dye, glitter, food coloring) or try Coke instead of water
  • It Takes about 1 hour to dissolve the baking soda completely, so you can watch as it dissolves over and over

Materials You’ll Need:

  • A clear glass container
  • LED flickering tealight candles or tea lights
  • Baking Soda – 1 cup to 2 cups works fine.
  • Water about 3 tablespoons
  • Large measuring cup at least 4 cups

12 Steps on How to Make a Lava Lamp With Baking Soda

Step 1:

Get a plastic bottle with a cap or lid (make sure it is clean). We used an empty dish detergent container. Cut off the bottom about 1″ above the bottom of the label. You may also want to cut out part of the cap and/or lid so that your lava will pour more easily, but it’s not necessary.

Step 2:

Pour in the baking soda until it is about 1″ from the top and shake it up to make sure all baking soda has contact with water. (The more you put, the thicker your lava will be.) Then break open a glow stick and pour that in too so that it doesn’t leak out.

Step 3:

Put the lid on and shake it up again to get the glow stick going. (It may take a minute or so.) If you put too much baking soda in, add another glow stick and shake it again. Or you can try putting in some water if there is extra room at the top without making it overflow.

Step 4:

Put the lava lamp on something to catch some of the baking soda that will be overflowing and put something next to it to catch the glow-stick fluid. You can also make a small hole in a cardboard box and put that under it to help keep your desk clean. Then flip the switch or plug it in and watch the lava flow!!

Step 5:

To turn it off, flip the switch or unplug it. If you want to make a new batch of lava, take out all the baking soda and glow-stick fluid so that all you have left is water in your lamp and put it somewhere safe till you are ready to use it again.

Step 6:

You can also make a colored lava lamp by putting in food coloring before adding the baking soda and shaking it up to mix it well. This will add color but won’t change the thickness of your lava. (I’m not sure if this would work with other chemicals like Kool-Aid or dish soap.)

Step 7:

It is also possible to use a lava lamp without the glow sticks. You can fill in the rest of the way with water and shake up some baking soda with water but don’t put in enough to overflow, then pour that into your lava lamp when you are ready to use it. You may have to put more in later if it starts to overflow.

Step 8:

If you are running the lava in a partially filled bottle, it will stop flowing and get very thick. You can fix this two ways. One way is to take out some of the baking soda. The second way is to put in more water so there’s still room for more baking soda before it overflows.

Step 9:

To clean your lava lamp, take out all the baking soda and flush it down the drain. Then pour in more water to rinse it out. Finally, you can shake up some more baking soda with water to eliminate any food coloring or other residue that might be left behind.

Step 10:

You can “recharge” a glow-stick by putting it in hot water (not boiling) for a couple of minutes. They will last longer in the lava lamp, but as long as you don’t leave them in there too long, they should still glow when you are done playing with your lava lamp and want to save it for later.

Step 11:

If your lava starts getting too thick and you don’t have a glow-stick to fix it, add some water. If it overflows, put it in a larger bottle or try using less baking soda next time.

Step 12:

You can use any plastic bottle with a cap or lid for your lava lamp as long as the cap fits well so that the baking soda can’t come out. You can also use a plastic sandwich bag if you cut off part of the corners and it is dark enough to see through.

Some Tips and Suggestions:

Lava lamps, while appearing to be relatively simple toys, are really more of a science project.

  • Make sure you have all the supplies before getting started. Lava lamps typically use boric acid (very toxic), water, and food coloring (harmless). The usual ratio is 2 teaspoons worth of boric acid for every cup of water.
  • As a precautionary measure, the liquid used must be non-toxic because it’s around for a long time (it will stay in the lamp until it evaporates). That being said, although baking soda (the main ingredient of this lava lamp) is non-toxic when eaten, you probably don’t want to take a bath in it.
  • Lava lamp making is messy. Have fun doing this project on a day you won’t mind looking like an accident victim at the end of it!
  • When using baking soda, be careful to have all windows open and preferably wear a mask. While it’s true that the chemical reaction for this reaction is slow, it’s still coming out of a volcano-like tube (which you could be using). Baking soda can irritate your nose and eyes but won’t seriously hurt you unless you eat the stuff.
  • Make sure to keep children (or pets) away while making this. It might look cool, but it’s probably not worth it if you’re going to get hurt.

What Does Baking Soda Do in a Lava Lamp?

Baking soda is a leavening agent. It causes carbon dioxide to form from the carbon dioxide, water, and heat already in your lava lamp (or any container). This gas will cause an “explosion” of sorts inside the lava lamp, so you should only use baking soda with a lid that can accommodate expansion.

Baking soda is also a colorant. When baking soda decomposes in the lava lamp, it creates carbon dioxide gas and sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda). The sodium bicarbonate will not only turn your lamps pink, but it gives them their characteristic acidic odor.

Conclusion:

This post has shown you how to make a lava lamp with baking soda. We hope this was helpful and answered any questions that you had about the process of making one. If not, please feel free to contact us so we can help out!

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