You heard me right ..elephant toothpaste. Not really. I was only kidding about it being real elephant toothpaste, but my kids sure did love pretending. This activity is so much fun…the over flowing foam at the end will have your child amazed. It is also a great way to introduce chemical reactions to your child in a fun and exciting way.
So what is going on in this activity? Hydrogen peroxide is a liquid that we are all familiar with when it comes to our kids getting boo boos. It is known for its dreaded bubbly action that helps clean cuts and scraps. This bubbly action that we have taken note of is actually a chemical reaction taking place. Hydrogen peroxide is breaking down into water and oxygen, and it is the oxygen that is forming all the bubbles. When we add yeast to hydrogen peroxide, it takes this naturally occurring chemical reaction and speeds it up. It is like pressing fast forward. The yeast is considered a catalyst here: a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed during the reaction. The reaction is occurring so fast that it in turn is releasing energy. The released energy is in the form of heat. This is why the bottle feels warm after the yeast and hydrogen peroxide are mixed. I bet you didn’t know you were such a scientist, huh?! 😉 The dish soap that is added to the mixture does nothing for the chemical reaction. It is only there to make the solution appear more bubbly-remember how the breaking down of the hydrogen peroxide is much like blowing lots of air aka blowing bubbles! Lets get on to the hands on part!
1 empty 16 oz water bottle
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoon water
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
A few drops of dish soap
A few drops of food coloring (which ever color ‘toothpaste’ you want)
A baking pan or deep dish for collecting our overflowing ‘toothpaste’
First, mix the yeast and water in a small bowl until dissolved. In a separate bowl, measure out 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide. If you have small children doing this experiment, it is best for an adult to do this step. Add the food coloring to the hydrogen peroxide. Place the bottle into the ‘catching’ dish. Next, pour the colored hydrogen peroxide into the empty water bottle. Place a few drops of dish soap into the water bottle. Now for the real fun! Pour the dissolved yeast mixture into the bottle and WATCH! The chemical reaction instantly speeds up, and you will have an overflowing of ‘toothpaste’. Have your child touch the bottle during this to see how the bottle gets warm.
*Note: this ‘toothpaste’ is safe to touch, but should not be consumed.
Be prepared for a crazy overflowing of ‘toothpaste’ from the water bottle. My kids were amazed and excited to see so much action take place at one time. I hope your child enjoys this as much as we did!