How to make an easy lava lamp (trust us the kids will love it)

Follow this tutorial on how to make a lava lamp and light up any space with neon, glowing colours.

Lava lamp
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Learning how to make a  homemade lava lamp is an easy and exciting science experiment that kids of all ages will love. More than just a decorative light, making your own easy lava lamp teaches your children fascinating science lessons.

From learning about density (mass/weight) to seeing chemical reactions take place right in front of them, your kids can enjoy this scientific project with instant feedback. This easy lava lamp begins working right away, so they don't have to wait, plus they get to be crafty at the same time. Once they've created their own lava lamp, you can be sure they'll want to make a glitter jar, paper mache or try even more fascinating scientific experiments.

What's more, this simple activity doesn't require a lot of fancy ingredients or equipment. All the materials are likely already in your kitchen, so it's easy to put together. We'll walk you through what you'll need and how to make a homemade lava lamp in four easy steps. 

How to make an easy lava lamp

You will need:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Food colouring
  • Small cup
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • 1L bottle or cup
  • Spoon

Method

  1. Add the baking soda - In your 1L bottle or cup, add three tablespoons of baking soda.
  2. Add the oil - Fill 2/3 of your bottle or cup with the vegetable oil, making sure it rests on top of the baking soda and doesn’t mix with it.
  3. Mix the vinegar and the food colouring - In the other, smaller container, add some vinegar and three drops of your food colouring. TIP: Use different coloured food colouring with every new bottle, or mix some together (like blue and red) to create new colours that you often can't buy. Or, instead of food colouring, add some silver glitter!
  4. Sit back and watch - Now, add your solution of vinegar and food colouring to the big 1L container slowly, and watch what happens! Place your phone torch underneath your bottle to light up the bottom and achieve that famous lava lamp glow.

Kids making a lava lamp

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lava lamp with Alka-Seltzer

Many tutorials will tell you that you need to use an effervescent tablet, such as those vitamin tablets you dissolve into drinks. If you've got some going spare, then feel free to use them! The video tutorial we've featured below uses Alka-Seltzer, but any effervescent tablet will do, so feel free to experiment.

Our tutorial doesn't require anything apart from some basic household items and a few store cupboard essentials. If you don't already have food colouring though, you can easily buy some online from Amazon, such as these 12 assorted colours food colouring, £6.99.

Discover more ways to stimulate your little one's curiosity, from 146 fantastic facts for kids and 72 things to do on a rainy day, to a trip to the capital, with 100 free activities to do with the family in London.

Writer

Joanne Lewsley is mum to a tween, and freelance copywriter and editor who creates parenting, health and lifestyle content for evidence-based websites, including BabyCentre, Live Science, Medical News Today and more.