Lava Lamps Experiment

Bored? I have just the thing to fix that!


What will happen when we mix Alka Seltzer with oil and water together?


When the oil and the water come together, I feel like they won't mix, you will see blobs of oil in the water like it is its own component and it's refusing to mix. I know this because when i'm making a cake and I put oil in the measuring cup, then I fill up the cup with water I start to see blobs of oil in the water, that means that water and oil are insoluble. Then when you add the Alka Seltzer tablet, the water will start to fizz up and create foam. I think that it will fizz up because of all the chemicals that it contains to relive pain, it will react to the water the same way it acts in your body.

Let's see, what do we need?


  1. Vegetable oil- 100ml
  2. Food colouring (colour of your choice)
  3. Water- 150ml
  4. 2 beakers (1 for oil and 1 for water)
  5. 1 hard plastic container- 300ml
  6. 1 piece of scrap paper
  7. A paper to record results
  8. A plastic spoon
  9. Pencil/Pen
  10. A device
  11. Alka Seltzer tablets
  12. Masking tape


  1. Find a hard surface to do this project and clean it up, get out all the materials you'll need for this experiment.
  2. Before you start place the scrap paper on your working space. Label your beakers with tape so you don't get mixed up. One should be labeled "water" and the other should be labeled "oil". Before you do the next step, record your results and determine what will happen next.
  3. After that is all set up, cautiously measure 150ml of water in you beaker, and pour that into your plastic container. Next choose any colour for your food colouring (no more than 3 different colours), and drop in 3 drops for one colour. If you do more than 3 colours your lava lamp's colour will not be appealing, to some. Mix with a plastic spoon.
  4. Set aside the food colouring , water and the water beaker and focus on the next step. measure 100ml of vegetable oil in the oil beaker, and pour that in the coloured water. Stir with plastic spoon.
  5. Take pictures and record your results.
  6. Once your lamp is constructed, it's time to see what it can really do. The Alka Seltzer tablets should come in a pack of 2. Make sure your in a dark space and turn of any unnecessary lights. Take your your flashlight ( preferably from a phone ) and place you lamp directly on top of your flashlight.
  7. Now, break one of the Alka Seltzer tablets in half and put it in the lava lamp. It should start to fizz up and waves start to form in the lava lamp. If half a tablet is not enough, then put in the other half, but if you'd like more action then put 2 whole tablets. Take pictures and record your results. Do you see anything fascinating , and if so, what is that fascinating thing?
  8. There you have it your very own lava lamp!
  9. After you've enjoyed the action, clean up your surface, so you don't leave any stains! If you want to see the lava lamp fizz up again put in another batch of Alka Seltzer tablets, or if you don't have any left, slowly pour in some Epsom salt. Hoped you enjoyed this and that you were just as amused as I was!

Observations (Written)

  • When mixing the oil in the water it automatically made it's own layer
  • After I added in the Alka Seltzer tablets, I put my hand over the lava lamp and I felt splats of it on my hand
  • I put my ear close to it to see what it sounded like and it sounded like when you open a can of coke and you can hear the fizz popping up.


The fizzing you see when you drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in water is the same sort of fizzing that you see from baking powder. You will find that the baking powder reaction is caused by an acid reacting with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). In school, you probably tried an experiment where you mixed baking soda with vinegar to see it foam. That's what is happening in baking powder. If you look at the ingredients for Alka-Seltzer, you will find that it contains citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). When you drop the tablet in water, the acid and the baking soda react -- this produces the fizz. You can think of an Alka-Seltzer tablet as compressed baking powder with a little aspirin mixed in.

Recommendations for Retrail or Improvements

  • I felt like it would have been easier to label the beakers so you know wich one is for the water and wich one is for the oil, but I put it in my lab report anyways
  • I didn't have any other problems, I felt like my group worked cooperatively and we did what we had to do it was a lot of fun