Elephant Toothpaste anyone? Although elephants might not be too excited about the idea, your kids will be thrilled with the fun chemical reaction of this super simple science experiment.
With only a few common items that you probably already have at home, kids can see the quick and impressive results of the chemical reaction, feel the heat released from the process, and even play with the “elephant toothpaste” foam afterward.
Below you’ll find detailed and printable instructions, a materials list, a demonstration video, and an easy to understand explanation of why it works!
- 2 Tablespoons Warm Water
- 1 Teaspoon Yeast
- Food Coloring
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Either 3% or 6%
- Dish Soap
- Empty Plastic Bottle
Helpful Tip: You can find the 3% at most stores, but you will need to either go to a Beauty Supply Store or order the 6% online. In the video I perform the experiment two ways. Once using the 3% peroxide and once using the 6%. It is often recommended to use 6% peroxide, but we actually preferred the reaction that happened with the 3% better.
Step 1 – Combine two tablespoons of warm water with one teaspoon of yeast and mix until the yeast is completely dissolved in the water.
Step 2 – Pour 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide into the empty bottle. You’ll see here that we have two bottles. The bottle pictured on the left is being filled with 3% hydrogen peroxide while the bottle pictured on the right is filled with 6% hydrogen peroxide.
Step 3 – Add a few drops of food coloring into the bottle. Take a moment to make a few observations. What happened when you added the drops of food coloring?
Note: This step is optional, but adding the color adds a fun element to the experiment. You’ll see that we used a different color of food coloring for each bottle.
Step 4 – Next, add a squirt of dish soap into the bottle. Again, take a moment observe what happened. Did adding the dish soap appear to have any effect on the liquid already in the bottle?
Step 5 – Finally, pour the mixture of water and yeast into the bottle. Watch carefully and observe what happens.
Helpful Tip: You may need to gently swirl the bottle in order to get the items to completely combine. We had to do that for the 6% hydrogen peroxide.
Sit back and watch what happens. Write down your observations as you watch the experiment. Can you describe what happens when you add the water and yeast mixture to the bottle. If you are using both the 3% and the 6% hydrogen peroxide like we are, is there a difference between what happens?
Wondering what caused the liquid to react that way? Find out the answer in the how does this experiment work section below.
This experiment shows a very impressive and fast chemical reaction! Hydrogen peroxide is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O2). In this experiment, yeast is a catalyst that helps release oxygen molecules from the hydrogen peroxide solution.
A catalyst is a material that increases the rate of a reaction without itself being consumed
The release of oxygen molecules in this experiment happens FAST! The foam created in this chemical reaction is made up of very tiny oxygen bubbles. These bubbles result when hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is broken down by the yeast into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2).
During the reaction, feel the bottle. It will feel warm to the touch because it is an exothermic reaction.
An exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction that releases energy through light or heat (in this case, heat).
The reaction will continue and foam will be produced until all of the hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has been broken down into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2).
**Have fun playing with the foam after the experiment is over! It is safe to touch because all that foam is just soap, water and oxygen. Let your kids have some fun with the foam too. Just be sure to have a towel handy!
Other Ideas to Try
Try adding more or less yeast when doing the experiment again. How does this affect the amount of foam produced?
Try the experiment again, but change the size of the bottle. How does this affect the amount of foam produced?
I hope you enjoyed the experiment. Here are some printable instructions: