I love that there are so many simple, fun and educations science experiments. This one is super simple and uses common items that you probably have at home. We did two variations of the experiment so we can observe how changing the type of hydrogen peroxide used affected the results. Plus, I wanted to know if it was really worth purchasing the 6% peroxide. Watch the experiment to see for yourself what happens and then grab the supplies and try it for yourself!
Watch The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment
- 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 perfected the reaction that happened with the 3% better.
Elephant Toothpaste Experiment Details
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.
Step 3 – Add a few drops of food coloring into the bottle.
Step 4 – Add a squirt of dish soap into the bottle.
Step 5 – Pour the mixture of water and yeast into the bottle.
Step 6 – Sit back and watch 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.
How Does the Experiment Work?
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, so 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: