Liquid Lava Layers

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In this activity, learners explore the concepts of density and basic chemical reactions as they create a homemade lava lamp effect using water, oil, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer tablets. Step-by-step instructions with photos, an explanation of the science behind the activity, discussion questions, and suggested activity extensions are included.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Plastic bottle
  • Funnel
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • Alka-Seltzer tablet


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Science Festivals Activity


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Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Science Museum Group, 2020