elephant toothpaste

If an elephant used toothpaste, this is probably what it'd look like! Working with an adult, kids can learn about chemical reactions by watching this heat-producing mixture bubble and overflow for up to half an hour.


WARNING: This experiment uses chemicals that can irritate skin and damage clothes, so make sure to use safety goggles, lab apron, and nitrile gloves. Avoid touching or getting the chemicals on skin or clothing. And don't get too close, as heat and steam can be dangerous.


For each "tube of toothpaste" (otherwise know as the bottle with a reaction inside):

• 16-ounce empty plastic soda or water bottle with narrow neck

• foil cake pan with 2-inch sides

• funnel

• ½ cup 20-volume peroxide, sold in a beauty supply store; needs to be a 6 percent solution

• squirt of dish detergent

• 3 drops to a teaspoon of food coloring

• glass measuring cup, beaker, or clear plastic cup

• 1 teaspoon of yeast

• 2 tablespoons of very warm water

• plastic spoon


DON'T FORGET YOUR SAFETY EQUIPMENT: safety goggles, lab apron, nitrile gloves

(AD) Try This Extreme!

Check out the book.

STEP ONE: Stand the soda bottle in a pan.


STEP TWO: Insert funnel in neck of soda bottle.


STEP THREE: Add ½ cup peroxide, detergent, and food coloring.


UM, DID YOU SEE THE WARNING ABOVE? Check it out again!


STEP 4: In measuring cup, beaker, or plastic cup, combine yeast and warm water. Combine with plastic spoon.


STEP 5: Pour yeast mixture into soda bottle and remove funnel.


WARNING: In case you missed it the first time, avoid touching or getting the chemicals on skin or clothing. And don't get too close, as heat and steam can be dangerous.



Hydrogen peroxide normally decomposes (breaks down into separate elements), and combining it with detergent and yeast (a catalyst) speeds up the process.


As the oxygen emanates from the reaction, it creates bubbles. The detergent speeds up the foaming. The reaction is "exothermic," meaning it produces heat as well as steam.

Photographs by Lori Epstein, Nat Geo Staff
From the book Try This! Extreme
Text Copyright © 2017 Karen Romano Young

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