Lava Lamp Experiment

What is a Lava Lamp? 

Lava lamps, also known as liquid motion lamps, have been doing the rounds for ages. The lava lamp science project hypothesis talks about the density of two liquids and the solubility of the two same liquids. In the lava lamp, we have liquids that are very close to each other in density and are insoluble in each other. Many people often end up using oil and water because they are insoluble in each other. But the two liquids have densities that are very different from one another. So you need to find two liquids with very close densities for the experiment to work.  

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Once you have found the two liquids, heat the bottom of the mixture with a light bulb. The denser liquid will absorb the heat and expand. While expanding it low becomes less dense. As both the liquids have similar densities, the previously denser liquid becomes lighter and rises over the other liquid. All of this happens in very slow motion, and the density changes that occur are very mild. 


When Does a Lava Lamp Expire?

A bottle of a lava lamp is said to last nearly 2000 hours. After this, you can either replace it with a new lava lamp or bring a new bottle. A lava lamp usually starts working an hour after turning them on. Most lava lamps run on battery nowadays. You can change the batteries too in case the lamps stop working. 


Lava Lamp Experiment 

The lava lamp experiment works on the principle of density and polarity. Let us see how to make a lava lamp.


Apparatus Needed For Lava Lamp Experiment: 

  1. Flask or a bottle 

  2. Water 

  3. Vegetable oil 

  4. Alka-Seltzer or some other fizz tablets 


What is to Be Done

  1. Fill the bottle or flask with water. Fill it to a quarter. It is advised to use a funnel so that the water doesn’t spill outside. 

  2. Now add vegetable oil to the bottle until it is full to the brim.

  3. Wait for some time. Let the vegetable oil and water levels separate. 

  4. Add food coloring to the mixture. Pick any color, think of any choice. Since the food coloring is also water-based, it will sink and settle at the bottom of the flask. 

  5. Take an Alka-Seltzer tablet and break it into small pieces. Start adding them to the flask one by one. 

  6. The reactions will start inside the bottle as soon as the tablets are added. 

  7. In case the lava lamp reaction stops, keep adding more tablets. 


What Do We Observe

We observe that in the lava lamp experiment, the density of oil is much lower than that of water. Although the water and oil layers separate due to the densities the food couriering has the same density as that of water. As soon as we add the fizz tablets, small bubbles appear that come to the top and bring some water along with it. The bubbles disaster as soon as the reaction stops. You can keep your lava lamp actively working by adding more tablets from time to time. 


Solved Examples

  1. What Chemical Reactions Take Place in The Lava Lamp Experiment? 

Ans: The Alka seltzer, when reacted with water, produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles. They stick to the water droplets. The water and gas combination is less dense than oil, and hence they rise to the top of the flask. The real lava lamps use polar and nonpolar liquids, just like the homemade ones do. The lava lamp experiment measures density and polarity. 


  1. Can Wax Be Used in Some Lava Lamps? 

Ans: Yes. Lava lamps are often filled with wax, water, and other chemicals to make them look brighter and colorful.


Fun Facts About The Lava Lamp Experiment

  • The lava lamp was first discovered in the year 1948. The ideal lava lamp took 15 years to design.

  • There can never be two same lava lamps. 

  • Initially, lava lamps were considered to be unusual and luxurious items, but over time, they have become accessorized products. 

  • Lava lamps can be highly expensive too. 

  • The lava lamp experiment is a widespread and fun experiment for kids nowadays. 

  • The most massive lava lamp is said to hold thousands of gallons of lava. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Who Invented a Lava Lamp?

Sir Edward Walker first introduced the lava lamp in the year 1963. He is the founder of the lighting company Mathmos. His company has been designating lava lamps for more than 55 years now. Before him, many other people tried inventing the perfect lava lamp, but it took about 15 years for the ideal lava lamp to be made. Walker’s business became a huge success in the early ’60s and ’70s. Initially, the light bulb was not the beating source. But the founder was desperate to place a light bulb at the bottom as a beating source. Eventually, the plan worked, and we got the very first customized lava lamp. These lava lamps do not cast much light as compared to other light fixtures.

2. Why Does Their Given Name Know Lava Lamps?

Lava lamps are called so because when they are lit up, it looks like burning lava inside. But it is merely a lucid substance inside the fire consisting of water and oil. Lava lamps are used by children and adults alike for room decoration and as a light source too. During the night, kids can turn in the lava lamp and sleep peacefully without fearing the dark. The lamps emit some light, but it is not as bright as other light bulbs. Some lava lamps have unique wax coating material inside. This particular wax expands, and as a result, the liquid becomes less dense. Lava lamps are also known as artificial lamps.