*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.
I guarantee you have never made a lava lamp quite like this before! Get ready to entertain the kiddos with this unique glow in the dark lava lamp that looks like a whirling glowing a snowstorm. This is the perfect demonstration activity for a birthday or Halloween party.
Materials You Need:
Clear Plastic or glass jar or bottle
Alka-Seltzer tablets (or generic equivalent)
Glow in the dark glitter (if desired)
Make a Glow in the Dark Lava Lamp
- Squeeze some glow in the dark gel into the bottom of your jar. We used about one ounce of glow in the dark gel in a 32 ounce jar.
- Add enough warm water to dissolve all of the glow in the dark gel. You only want your jar to be about 1/4-1/3 full of water/gel so adjust your measurements as needed.
- Add some glow in the dark glitter, if desired. This just adds a little bit more glow in the dark sparkle!
- Add the baby oil to the jar, leaving several inches empty at the top.
- Turn off the lights and add one Alka-Seltzer tablet at a time and watch what happens! You can add more than one tablet at once, but be ready for some bubble spillover if you do!
The Science of the Glow in the Dark Lava Lamp
I love this science demonstration because there are several different scientific concepts to learn! The kids are absorbing tons of great principles without even realizing it 🙂
First, the glow in the dark component. We saw when we made glow in the dark window gel clings that everything that glows in the dark is made up of little chemicals called phosphors that emit energy in the form of light. They will glow in the dark as often as you charge them up in the light!
Next, why don’t water and oil mix? The simple answer is that they are made of different chemical bonds. No matter how hard you stir, water and oil will never mix together. If you want more in-depth answers and examples of this check out the Color Bombs experiment or our classic Lava Lamp/Density experiment!
Last, what is the chemical reaction that happens when you drop Alka-Seltzer into the glow in the dark lava lamp? What makes the glowing layer bubble up?
We know that both glow in the dark gel and Alka-Seltzer dissolve in the water layer (on the bottom) because they are made of the same kinds of chemical bonds. As the Alka-Seltzer dissolves a reaction between an acid and a base happens, causing carbon dioxide to bubble up through the oil layer. This is the fun chemical reaction you can see! We used these same materials and this same chemical reaction to blast off film canister rockets, which the kids LOVED!