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How to Make Elephant Toothpaste was written by Roberta at Biology with Berta. She has a passion to help students gain a passion for learning through a guided nature hike, a science or dissection class, or tutoring sessions – you can visit her website here. Today, she’s a featured guest contributor to the Create Your Homeschool Blog! Enjoy this experiment!
By now, you have most likely heard about the chemistry experiment that is catching the attention of kids and adults everywhere… Elephant Toothpaste.
Besides a cool video to watch on youtube, this could be the perfect way to bring chemistry to your homeschool in a fun way! By doing this experiment at home you can teach your child about chemistry, biology, reactions, catalysts, and more!
Here is the science behind the Elephant Toothpaste experiment
Hydrogen peroxide is a great antiseptic for killing bacteria in cuts and scrapes. But have you ever wondered what it is made of?
Its chemical formula is H2O2, which means it is made of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms.
When hydrogen peroxide breaks down, it turns into oxygen and water. Normally this breakdown happens very slowly. But we can speed this reaction up by adding a catalyst (a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction).
In this experiment, yeast will act as our catalyst.
Yeast quickly breaks apart the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Because it does this very fast, it creates lots and lots of bubbles. The oxygen forms bubbles, that would usually escape from the liquid and pop. But by adding the little dish soap we provide additional surface tension. This causes the bubbles to get trapped and make foam!
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Here’s what you’ll need to do to make Elephant Toothpaste:
1. Gather the needed supplies
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Dry yeast
- Warm water
- Liquid dish soap
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Safety glasses (swimming goggles work great!)
- Large tub or tray to catch the foam
- Plastic bottle or cylinder
- Food coloring (optional but fun)
2. Find the right location for the experiment
This experiment can get messy, so I recommend doing it outside or in the kitchen if you don’t currently have an outdoor space available.
3. Time to measure
Measure 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide and add it to the empty cylinder. (Make sure everyone is wearing glasses from this point on! Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t feel good if you get it in your eyes.)
4. Start to mix
Add two large squirts of dish soap into the bottle and gently mix.
**Add some food coloring at this point if you want to!
5. Mix the yeast
In one of your measuring cups mix together one tablespoon of yeast and three tablespoons of the warm water.
6. See what happens!
Add the yeast mixture to the cylinder and step back!
Here are a few questions to ask about your Elephant Toothpaste Experiment
- What happened?
- Does the size of the bottle affect the amount of foam produced? (Try a different sized bottle with different size openings)
- Why is it called elephant toothpaste?
- What happens if you add more or less yeast?
How did your experiment go? Send us a photo of your students’ experiment and we might feature their work on our Social Media pages!
If you need help, email us at email@example.com and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @biologywithberta!