Monday, January 16, 2012

Science Experiment: Elephant Toothpaste



This exciting science experiment works great in a discussion on reactions, as a demonstration, or as an actual experiment.  To use it as an experiment, perform it once with your child, then ask your child what might happen if you changed the amounts or left out an ingredient. Let her direct the experiment!  Also, the foam created is safe to touch.  It is simply water, oxygen gas, and soap, so if your child has no soap allergies, she can experience and experiment with the texture of the foam!

How to make Elephant Toothpaste:


1.  Set a soda pop bottle in the middle of a pan to catch the toothpaste.

2. Mix these in a separate container and swirl together for a minute.  The yeast will catalyze (or speed up) the reaction.  Woo hoo!

** 2 Tablespoons warm water
** 1 teaspoon yeast

3.  Mix these in your soda pop bottle: 

** 1/2 cup 6% hydrogen peroxide.  It is important to use at least 6%.  You can use 8% or more (available on Amazon), or you can Salon Care Professional Stabilized Formula.  20 Volume Clear Developer from Sally Beauty Supply works fine too. 3% from the grocery store will NOT work as well.  :)
** 4-5 drops food coloring
** squirt of dish soap


4.  Pour the yeast mixture into the soda pop bottle...and be amazed!

If you're working with older kids, you may be interested in how it works:

The reaction is summarized by this formula: 2 H2O2  -->  2 H2O + 02.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) naturally breaks down into water and oxygen.  It is stored in opaque containers to help slow down this process.  Catalase (an enzyme in all living things, including yeast) speeds up the reaction.  Dish soap catches the oxygen and makes bigger bubbles and the food coloring makes it look cool.  The foam and bottle feel warm because the reaction is exothermic--it releases energy as heat.

UPDATE: At the request of many of you, I am providing these amazon affiliate links for 6% hydrogen peroxide for your convenience.  You will not pay any more for them, but we will receive a small commission for referring you.  I recommend buying a larger container because your kids will want to repeat the activity many times!

And, of course, here are some other supplies for this experiment:
Would you like more science ideas for kids? Check out my Kid's Science board on Pinterest: Follow Carla in's board Kid's Science on Pinterest.



Science Experiment: Elephant Toothpaste

Share:

Post a Comment

Facebook
Blogger

100 comments:

CacheyMama said...

Thanks for letting me know about this change and I think your new blog setup looks awesome!
Lori

Carla said...

Thanks, Lori! I'm so glad you made it over!

Having Fun said...

Nice new site. Very nice looking. I like it. I'm looking forward to tuesdays hop.

Ok that looks very cool. Oh we are so trying that. That's just what we love to do.

Veronica @ http://watchmeplaynlearn.blogspot.com/

S said...

ooooh, I cannot wait to try this! I think my kids will absolutely love this!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks, Veronica! I can't wait to see what you link up tomorrow! My kids wanted to repeat this several days in a row!

S, It is a TON of fun--I think I enjoy this one at least as much as the kids!

Brittney said...

Looks exciting! We just joined a co-op, but they only meet every other week (to the disappointment of my son today, it was our off week), so I think the opposite week will be spent doing fun science experiments like this!

Brittney
www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Brittney, That sounds like a great plan! Thanks for coming by!

Lisa Weidknecht said...

Oh how fun! I'm a new follower!

Tammy said...

I have been waiting to try this out with the kiddos. I love that you added color!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks, Lisa!

Tammy, I bet your kids will love it! My daughter asks to add food coloring to almost everything we do--I love the color too!

Cassi Crane said...

Ekkk! This looks SO FUN! But I messed up and bought 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. It's all our store had. I wonder how much of a difference it will really make! :-(

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Cassi Crane, It was a BLAST!! 3% should still give you some bubbles, but not nearly as great a show. The reaction is still happening, but much slower. I'd recommend just ordering a 6% (or higher) bottle online or going to a beauty store. Good luck!!

Safeya said...

I work at a daycare and my kids love science. I was running out of ideas but I'm so excited to show them this one! Thanks a million

Our Homeschool Reviews said...

Oh wow, this looks like fun!

Erin said...

This is so darn cool! We're totally doing this! Thanks!

Julia Miller said...

Very cool

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom said...

I am just hopping over from my Enchanted Thursdays Blog Hop to thank you for linking up this week. I am your newest GFC follower. This looks like a very cool science project! Thank you for sharing.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Safeya, After I showed it to the kids in my home daycare, they've requested it over and over!

Our Homeschool Reviews, It is definitely fun!

Erin, I'm so glad you'll use it!

Thanks, Julia!

Thanks for hosting the hop, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, and thanks for following! I'm glad you like it!

Deceptively Educational said...

OOooohhh! That looks so fun. I can just picture my son's eyes so big they nearly pop out of his face. I'm pinning this so I don't forget to do it. Thanks for sharing!

Laura@art4littlehands said...

that is super cool.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Deceptively Educational, I'm so excited for you to share it with your son! I've had kids 1-4 years old LOVE it! and Thanks for pinning!!

Thanks, Laura!

Anonymous said...

I did this today with my Kindergarteners! They loved it sooo much that we did it twice! Thank you so much!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Yay!! Thank you so much for letting me know! I'm so glad you and your class enjoyed it!!

Andrea said...

My boys would love me if I did this with them. I am so happy to now be following you. Thanks for the great tips.

Sherrie said...

You mention a soda pop bottle...can I use an empty water bottle instead? Sorry if that sounds silly, but don't have sodas at the house! :)

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Andrea, I'm so glad you came by--I'm sure you and your boys will enjoy it!

Sherrie, I should have mentioned this! I've used both and they both work great. If you look closely, in the pictures I posted here, I actually used a 20-ounce water bottle! It works great--I don't drink soda either, but I do have lots of water bottles! And while I have bought sodas for other experiments, it definitely isn't necessary for this one! Have fun!

Melissa said...

thank you for this!! my kids were thrilled!! i used 20 volume cream developer from sally's (i already had it) and it worked AMAZINGLY! the bubbles just kept coming! :) thanks again :)

Rachel {BubblyNatureCreations.com} said...

This is so cool!!!

Tonia L said...

How cool! I have to do this with my kids. They will love it!
~Tonia @TheGunnySack.com

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Melissa, That's awesome!! I am so glad you got to use it already--thanks so much for letting me know!! I do love how the bubbles keep coming! How cool that you have 20 vol developer at your house, too!

Thanks, Rachel!

Tonia, I'm sure you'll all enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by!

Prairie Mother said...

Finally!! A science experiment to do with my kids that has an explanation of the chemical reactions..thanks!!

Tonia L said...

I wanted to let you know that I am featuring this today at The Gunny Sack!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Prairie Mother, I'm so glad you appreciate that! Even though I'm writing it for young children, I hoped someone would be interested in the information! I've also taught high school and junior high school science classes and just can't help including a little "real" science! ;) Thanks for coming by!

Thanks, Tonia! I'm so excited! I love The Gunny Sack!

Laura@art4littlehands said...

I already commented after seeing this from somewhere else, but I wanted to thank you for posting on Monday Madness. Hope to see you there again tomorrow.

Steph @ Crafting in the Rain said...

What a fun reaction!

Kristie said...

Found you on Pinterest and just tried this with my kiddos. They LOVED it!!! Thanks so much for the idea.
PS.. we used the 3% and it worked just fine for us....the bubbles kept coming for quite a while.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks, Laura! I love Monday Madness!

Thanks, Steph!

Kristie, I'm so glad you found me! and I'm SO glad the 3% worked for you! Thanks so much for letting me know you and your kids enjoyed it! Knowing that people are using this is one of my biggest motivations to keep posting stuff like this!

Charity said...

Love this! I'm planning to post this on my FB page and pin it!!! It is awesome! I want everyone to see it!
Charity
www.thehelpingbridge.com

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Charity, Thanks so much for sharing it--I really appreciate it! I'm so glad you like it!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try this with my kindergarten students! They are going to be so amazed and excited! =D
(found this on pinterest)

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

I'm sure your kindergartners will love it! I love pinterest, and I'm so grateful for to all the people who've been sharing this on pinterest! Thanks for stopping by!

Susan Case said...

This is amazing. I pinned it. I hope you'll visit my blog: Kindergarten for Teachers and Parents. Wonderful blog you have! I added your link to my Linky Party page.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Susan, I'm so glad you like it! Thanks so much for sharing it! I'll definitely check out your blog!

marjoriethe7th said...

The lady at Sally said to be careful getting the developer on hands as it can irritate them - she recommended wearing gloves. Is this something anyone else has experienced or should I not be worried?

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

It never hurts to wear gloves--some people's hands will even be irritated by the dish soap. I would not recommend actually touching the developer, however, when the foam comes out it is no longer developer. The hydrogen peroxide has dissociated into oxygen and water. I've never had trouble with kids touching the foam and washing their hands afterwards, but if you're concerned about their skin, gloves never hurt. ;)

Anonymous said...

My experiment didn't work :( kids disappointed. I used a soda bottle volume 20 cream developer, a squirt of dawn. yeast and warm water mixed together. What type of yeast did you use? is the only thing I can think of that may be different. Checking out Steve Spangler's website now I think he has this experiment there too. Thank You.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Anonymous, I'm so sorry it didn't work for you guys! I've done it many times and never had any problems. Since I wasn't with you, I'm not sure what went wrong, but here's a few things to double check:

1- Yeast and water temperature: If the water is too hot you will kill the yeast and it won't work. If it's too cold the yeast won't have a chance to start growing. If the yeast is too old, it won't work as well either, though I've used some very old yeast. ;) You can make sure this combination is right by waiting to see the yeast start to foam and bubble before stirring it in.

2- If your hydrogen peroxide (20Vol Developer works great) is too old, it will have already dissociated into water and oxygen and you won't have any actual hydrogen peroxide left for the actual experiment. This happens faster if you store it in light, a warm place, or a clear container.

I don't remember the brand of yeast I used. I buy it in bulk about once a year.

Good luck! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

marjoriethe7th said...

Thank you for the reply Carla - we'll try it today or tomorrow!

Angela said...

The reason it didn't work could have been the CREAM developer. I debated using that or the liquid. The cream must have something in it to make it the right consistency, but changes the effect of the experiment. I could be wrong, but that was my first thought.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Great idea, Angela! I've always used the clear developer, which is why I listed it as an option on #3. It makes me want to buy some cream developer and see what happens!

marjoriethe7th said...

We used the cream developer as well and the reaction was s-l-o-w, but we achieved the same results. I had no idea there was a difference in developers....next time we will try the clear instead of cream. : ) It was a fun experiment - thanks!

Cheryl said...

Such an awesome idea...sadly, we only had 3% and gave it a try, but not much action. Could have been older yeast too...Looking forward to trying it again though!

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

No school today and my kids were complaining about boredom. I had pinned this previously, so I pulled it up and suggested we try it. They are having a ton of fun in the dining room right now, and I am so happy to be listening to laughter and not whining. :)

I only had 3% peroxide, but it worked well enough to get a reaction and lots of bubbles to play with. Also, if you had more peroxide after the reaction has stopped, it starts up again, which was further fun.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Marjoriethe7th, Do use clear next time! It seems that the cream has extra oil and other ingredients that could slow it down. Let me know how it goes!

Cheryl, I actually stock some 6% just for this one--the kids just love it too much! Good luck next time!

Jennifer, I am SO glad you and your kids enjoyed it! It's definitely a great boredom-buster! It's wonderful that the 3% worked too! Thanks so much for coming back and letting me know!

Barb said...

My 1st grade son has to do a science experiment in front of his class next week and I thought this would be the perfect thing. However, I cannot find anything more than 3% peroxide anywhere locally. I asked a couple pharmacists and they do not stock it nor do they know where it is available. I'm seeing in previous comments that 3% doesn't work as well. I did pick up fresh packets of yeast today, so maybe we'll give it a try and see how it works. Just wondered if anyone has actually seen 6% peroxide anywhere. Thanks.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Hi Barb! This is a lot of fun to do with a class! The only places I've seen to get 6% or more hydrogen peroxide locally (not including the internet or high school store rooms) are beauty supply stores. I've used 20 volume clear developer from Sally Beauty Supplies many times, and I've also heard that Clairoxide hair bleach by Clairol works (though I haven't tried that one). If you have time, Amazon will also send some. ;) Good luck!

Amy @ Pounds4Pennies said...

Very cool. I am a new GFC follower. Stop by to follow Back.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks for coming by, Amy!

Catherine said...

Thanks for this cool idea, my son loves the baking soda and vinegar for volcano's. I know he will love this.

Also, new to the blog world would love for you to come and check me out/follow.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks, Catherine! I'll definitely come visit you!

tknudtson74 said...

Thanks for getting the science correct. So many times the explanation is wrong. As a high school chem and physics teacher I really appreciate it. As a mom of two little ones I am super excited to do this without the chemicals I use in school

Randy Deaver said...

This experiment looks cool! My son would definitely love to see this. We can try to do this on the weekend. If this can be made into a toothpaste that he can use on his own teeth, that would certainly motivate him to brush even more.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks, tknudtson74! I've actually taught high school IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry) and consider the science particularly important! Of course, we talk about it differently with my little ones, lol!

Randy, I'm so glad you can use it! I would definitely NOT use it as toothpaste, though! It would taste absolutely horrible! It gets its name because it looks like the sort of toothpaste you would imagine an elephant using. ;)

Anonymous said...

Love this idea for my preschool class.
Just curious, because let's face it, the little ones will get the "toothpaste" all over them when they play in it; will the HP bleach their hair should they happen to get the mixture in it? As a preschool teacher I would have some very unhappy parents.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

I would be more concerned about the food coloring dying their hair than the HP bleaching it. Food coloring also stains clothes, so unless you have some pretty intense smocks, you might want to just leave the food coloring out. ;) The actual foam doesn't have HP in it--the HP has dissociated to water and oxygen. I suppose it's always possible that a little HP from inside the bottle could get carried out into the foam on the bubbles, but I haven't had any trouble with that. Good luck!

Heather Moss said...

My daughter was so excited to try this experiment for her 3rd grade science fair project. We used both 3% and the developer from Sally's to see the difference. She hypothesized whether changing the % and ingredients would change experiment. We also tried it with a soda to see if it is just bubbly liquids or the chemical reaction of the peroxide that creates the explosion. She loved it but wanted what looked like the consistency of toothpaste from the first picture. Did I do it wrong or is it just the photography? Thanks for an exciting experiment we gathered the entire family around for!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Heather, it sounds like you had a wonderful set of experiments! It's hard to know exactly what happened without doing it with you, but the thick foam usually settles into smaller bubbles. I only get the thick foam when I use 6% or more hydrogen peroxide. Both pictures in the post are from the same experiment--I snapped the top one at the beginning and the bottom one about 3-4 minutes later. There's no special photography--all my pictures are actually taken with a simple point and shoot (I think it's a Canon Powershot, but I'd have to double check). ;) Thanks for taking the time to come back and comment--I'm so glad your family was able to enjoy it! Let me know if you have any other questions!

Lyndi said...

Why is it called "Elephant Toothpaste"?

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Hi Lyndi! As it comes out of the bottle, it looks like you would imagine elephant's toothpaste might look! ;)

Jazz said...

This great I just wouldn't let your children touch it the peroxide could give them a nasty reaction if they have sensitive skin. I know this because I am a hairdresser and have this reaction myself. So be careful! :)

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

It's true, the peroxide can be harsh on skin (it's not very pleasant in eyes, either). Fortunately, the reaction separates the peroxide into oxygen and water so the bubbles are less dangerous. Still, some people are sensitive to soap... gloves never hurt. ;) Thanks for stopping by!!

Anonymous said...

My daughter-in-law did this with my grandson (3) and he loved it. I got your site from her. I can't wait to do it with my 5th graders next year. Thanks so much for the scientific breakdown. So many experiments are so cool but then you have to look all over for the explanations.

Linda said...

If you insert a glowing splint into the fresh bubbles, the splint will re-ignite due to the oxygen. Also, never let a bottle of hydrogen peroxide dry out - be sure to rinse it out when it is empty.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Anon, Thanks so much for letting me know your grandson enjoyed it! I'm so glad! Have fun with your 5th graders next year! And I'm glad you appreciated the explanation--as a former science teacher, it's hard for me to put up a reaction without an explanation. ;)

Linda, I've never tried a glowing splint--thanks for sharing!!

Raegan said...

If you only use 3% hydrogen peroxide, use a much narrower bottle (like a 12 oz water bottle or the small SmartWater bottle) and you will get a better reaction. This is also great for 6 & 8 year-olds. Very safe, very clean, very minimal small. My niece & nephew loved it. Called the green "slime."

Anonymous said...

I bought 30 clear developer by mistake. Will it still work?

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Thanks for the tip, Raegan! The narrow neck forces the reaction through a smaller space, so it would look more explosive with any concentration of hydrogen peroxide!

Anon, I'm no expert in hair products, but I believe that 30 volume is 9% hydrogen peroxide. I would expect it to work wonderfully! Let us know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

Is this toxic? My preschoolers put everything in their mouths.

Jessica said...

This looks like tons of fun and I can't wait to try this with my kids! I linked this to my blog http://cmommygo.blogspot.com/ . If you mind I'll take it down.

Mrs. Crisostomo's Class said...

Thanks for explaining the chemistry aspect. It is necessary for older kids. Thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

Just stopping by with congratulations! Your project was in the top 5 most popular posts for May (Yes, trying to get caught up!) on Fun Family Crafts! Thanks for sharing your creativity and we hope you'll submit more. If you would like to see the post and grab a TOP 5 button, you can see it here http://funfamilycrafts.com/may-2012-top-posts/ Thanks!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Anon, the final bubbly product is not toxic, though I'd recommend trying to keep it out of their mouths. The soap can act like a laxative and the food coloring can stain. Definitely make sure they don't eat the hydrogen peroxide before you mix it all together.

Thanks, Jessica! I don't mind you linking to it at all!

I think it's important, too, Mrs. Crisostomo! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Thanks, Amanda!! I'll definitely pick up the button!!

Kirsten Lian said...

If you use the developer instead of peroxide, is it still safe for the kids to play in?

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Hi Kirsten, Generally, yes, the bubbles made after the reaction is safe to touch. Some children have sensitive skin and may need to wear gloves, though I haven't had this problem. Remember the actual foam doesn't have hydrogen peroxide/developer in it--it has dissociated to water and oxygen. If you are concerned, you can let them wear gloves.

Definitely do **not** let your children play in the developer before the reaction. ;)

Anonymous said...

I did this at a camp over the summer and I would know it works on older kids too. There were probably 50+ kids that were over the age of 12 and when the professor did that everybody loved it , it was really cool!!!

Susan ase said...

I would love to use the top photo with a link under it to your blog on my Halloween Science Recipes blog. Is that all right? Thank you!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Yes, of course, Susan! I love it when people share! Please be sure to use only one photo and link it back to this page. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I tried the experiment several times (my daughter loved it) However, I found that using the 40 developer from Sally's gets a much better reaction. All the times I tried with 20 just came out too runny. Also, if you drip red food coloring into one side of the bottle, and blue into the other it really looks like the classic Colgate toothpaste :) Thanks for posting this cool experiment!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Anon, The red and blue sound like a super fun effect! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

im 11 and this was so fun!!! I loved this experiment and my sister and I decided to make it even more fun by leaving the cap on! :) Once it started rising, we slowly untwisted the cap and it started exploding EVERYWHERE!!! Thanks for the idea on my boring day off from school! :D I appreciate it and I hope some of you try what I tried. :D

Anonymous said...

hi jan 23 4:38 pm :D. Lots of fun!!!

Grace said...

3% does work, and the result was awesome! I wish I took a video. :)

Anonymous said...

It's probably a good idea to make a note in the text of your original post that the 30%hydroxide solution purchased at Beauty Supply Stores can cause burns and eye damage. Some readers may not scroll down through ALL of your comments to get that point. I'd recommend the children wear asfety goggles if a high concentration is used.

Lisa White said...

I have this experiment on my blog too, it's great for little hands I agree. I always say elephant toothpaste can be used instead of the usual baking powder and vinegar to do this project: http://anordinary-life.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/volcano-experiment.html Another great and safe hands on experiment! :D

MK said...

The 2 h2o2 = 2 h2o + o2 doesnt scientifically explain the whole reaction. That just explains why peroxide is in dark bottles. Whats the actual chemical reaction. Its missing the yeast (catylst) and the soap. Any idea what the rxn is??

MK said...

The 2 h2o2 = 2 h2o + o2 doesnt scientifically explain the whole reaction. That just explains why peroxide is in dark bottles. Whats the actual chemical reaction. Its missing the yeast (catylst) and the soap. Any idea what the rxn is??

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Dear MK,

The equation {2 H2O2 --> 2 H2O + 02} does actually summarize the whole reaction. Catalysts are often not included in equations because the reaction will happen whether or not they are present. In this case, the yeast contains catalase, which is an enzyme that will make the hydrogen peroxide separate into water and oxygen faster. The soap is not in the chemical equation because it is not part of it. It is a simple physical reaction. Have you ever blown bubbles with a straw into a cup of water? The gas you blow into the water makes a bubble which quickly pops. Blow the same air into a cup of soapy water and you will have bubbles, just like the oxygen from the reaction discussed above makes bubbles in the soapy water in your water bottle. Combined, of course, the soap and the hydrogen peroxide reaction make a fabulous show! :D

Zaki z said...

I'm a kid how do I hydrogen perxoode. Iknow u can gettin. On amazon

Stephanie Garner said...

Tutoring is very important for students in SAT or any tests through this they can prepare tests
With full confidence. And success math test practice ratio of your child can increase. It is very difficult for the choice
Of online tutoring. I like all this discussion

Follow Us

About Us

Welcome! I'm so glad you're visiting! I am a public school teacher turned homeschooling mom who runs a small home daycare. I love to teach, create fun and exciting resources, and share the educational journey that we get to live!

This blog is full of ideas and resources for parents teaching preschoolers! One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to meet you all--be sure to say hi! You can always leave a comment or email me anytime at PreschoolPackets at gmail dot com!

Carla

Advertisment

Like Us

© Preschool Powol Packets All rights reserved | Theme Designed by Seo Blogger Templates