3 simple and colorful lava lamps
Three colorful lava-lamp projects. Make them all!
- glass container;
- tonic water;
- vegetable oil;
- UV light;
- fizzy tablets;
- water beads;
- food coloring;
- Add some food coloring to a glass of water. Transfer the tinted liquid to a glass container. Carefully add some vegetable oil and a few fizzy tablets. Your lava lamp is ready!
- Pour some water beads into a glass. Immerse them in water and wait 1 hour for them to swell. Transfer them to a glass vase and add water. Add a couple of fizzy tablets to engage your colorful bead kaleidoscope!
- Combine vegetable oil and tonic water. Just add a few fizzy tablets, and your lava lamp is ready! Turn on the UV light for an additional thrill – the water and bubbles glow!
Oil and water don't mix due to their molecular properties. Water consists of polar molecules: each molecule has a positive charge on one side and a negative charge on the other. Since opposites attract, the water molecules attract each other. Oil molecules are nonpolar, or uncharged, so they do not attract water molecules; thus, the two don't mix. For the same reason, the highlighter ink doesn't dissolve in oil – but it does dissolve in water. Vegetable oil and water also have different densities: the water sinks, and the oil rises to the top. Fizzy tablets usually contain organic acids and baking soda. In water, they react with each other to release carbon dioxide. Since carbon dioxide gas is less dense than water and vegetable oil, the gas bubbles gradually make their way to the surface of the mixture. As they pass through the layers of water and oil, the bubbles lift droplets of water up through the oil. Once the gas disperses into the air, the water sinks back to the bottom. The water beads rise and fall similarly, with the help of bubbles, turning into a colorful kaleidoscope.
Tonic water glows in UV light due to the quinine to its composition. It absorbs UV radiation and glows blue.