Friday, October 2, 2015

Elephant Toothpaste!

Hey, everybody!  We've been Back To School for a month now!  How's everybody doing?

I am really, really terrible at planning enough in advance and getting hard-to-obtain supplies together, so I love fun science that involves things you have AT HOME already!!

Today we made elephant toothpaste!  OK, well, we don't have any elephants to try it out and see how well it works, but it looks like giant toothpaste squeezing out of the tube, and since it is largely composed of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap, it should be a good cleaning agent!

Materials needed:
Hydrogen Peroxide
Dish Detergent
Yeast Packets
Food Coloring
Warm Water
Soda Bottles
Small Dishes

1. Mix each yeast packet with about 1/4 cup of warm water.  Let sit for a few minutes.

2.  Put about 1/2 cup of Hydrogen Peroxide in each bottle, along with your favorite color food coloring (we like the neon food coloring colors!)  Add a generous amount of dish detergent.

3.  Pour the yeast solution into the bottle through the funnel and watch the magic!

This was a fun experiment, but ours "erupted" a bit slowly.  Watch the Steve Spangler version for some real fun!  We used 3% hydrogen peroxide that you probably have in your medicine cabinet.  You can get 6% hydrogen peroxide at some beauty stores (used as a hair bleaching agent), which may give a better reaction.  My kids kept adding dish detergent and more hydrogen peroxide to speed it along!

What makes it work?

Water, as most people know, is comprised of molecules which each have two Hydrogen atoms attached to an Oxygen atom.  Hydrogen Peroxide molecules have two Hydrogen atoms attached to two Oxygen atoms.  The yeast is a fungus (decomposer) which assists in breaking down the Hydrogen Peroxide molecules, releasing some Oxygen atoms so that Water is left in the bottle and Oxygen gas escapes.  

What's with the dish detergent and the food coloring?  Oxygen escaping as a gas from the Hydrogen Peroxide-becoming-Water may create a few bubbles, but it would be much less entertaining, since Oxygen gas is, well, invisible.  The dish detergent captures the escaping Oxygen gas in bubbles, and the food coloring - you know - adds color, so that we can see what is happening in the experiment.

Here's our slow-moving, amateur experiment, and Steve Spangler's professional, perfected experiment:

I'm off to brush my elephant's teeth!  Happy experimenting!  :-)

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