This week, I found myself going down a very specific rabbit hole — one in which I watched video after video of people doing the Elephant Toothpaste science experiment. If you’re not familiar, the experiment features the creation of a large, foamy volcano made from water, dish soap, yeast and hydrogen peroxide — commonly referred to as “Elephant Toothpaste” because of its outsized toothpaste-y look. There is something weirdly satisfying about watching the fast-moving, oozing foam, so I’m here to suggest you create some yourself.
But first, let’s watch a few of those videos. We’ll start with a normal, you-can-try-this-at-home version:
And finally, this video is longer, but the story behind the project and the final product are worth the watch:
Anyway, back to the small and safe (but still satisfactory) version you can do at home. Here’s what you need:
- An empty, clean plastic bottle, such as a 450g soda bottle
- 1 packet (1 tablespoon) of dry yeast
- 1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (20-volume is a 6% solution that is stronger than what you find in most pharmacies but can usually be found in beauty supply stores. Science Bob says you can use the more common 3% hydrogen peroxide found in pharmacies, but the reaction will be a bit smaller.)
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- Liquid dish-washing soap
- Liquid food colouring (optional)
- A large container, such as a tub or tray, to catch the foam (unless you like a foamy mess)
- A small cup
- A funnel
- Safety goggles
Now you’re ready to go! Here are instructions from Science Bob:
- Use a funnel to carefully pour 1/2 cup (118 ml) of the hydrogen peroxide liquid into the bottle.
- Add about 10 drops of your favourite food colouring into the bottle.
- Add about 1 tablespoon (15ml) of liquid dish soap into the bottle and swish the bottle around a bit to mix it.
- In a separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for about 30 seconds. It should be about the consistency of melted ice cream — add a bit more warm water if needed.
- Now the adventure starts! Use the funnel to pour the yeast-water mixture into the bottle and watch the foaminess begin!
You’re going to be very tempted to touch that foam. If you’re using the 3% hydrogen peroxide, go ahead and feel away. If you’re using the 6% version, though, Science Bob recommends avoiding contact with it, because it can irritate your skin or eyes.