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Oil and Water Lava Lamp Experiment

This is a fun experiment to show your kids how different liquids don’t always mix. Using food coloring, water, vegetable oil and Alka-Seltzer tablets, they’ll get to create their very own “lava lamp” while getting curious about science!

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Activity PDF

Will it mix?

Science experiments are always a fun and exciting way to learn. This is a great way to increase your child's vocabulary and get them using terms that are new as they learn how different types of liquids and not all mix. Start off by mixing up some water and food coloring. Add some vegetable oil to a glass and then the water. Notice how it doesn’t mix! Then, drop in an Alka-Seltzer tablet and watch as everything changes as it turns to lava! 

📚 Books to explore: Did a Dinosaur Drink This water? by Robert E. Wells, The Rhythm of the Rain by Grahame Baker-Smith, and Water: Up, Down and All Around by Natalie Myra Rosinsky.

✨ Pro tip: Do this activity on a tray in case there is a spillover.

📷 Picture perfect! Document as you go and get your child’s reaction on camera.


For this activity you will need:

Vegetable Oil 


Food coloring 

Original Alka-Seltzer tablets 

2 drinking glasses

Learning Outcomes




Conversing with peers and adults


Engaging in increasingly longer interactions


Step 1:

Add food coloring to ¼ cup of water in one of the glasses.

Step 2:

Break an Alka-Seltzer tablet into a couple of pieces and place off to one side.

Step 3:

Fill the second drinking glass glass until it’s ⅔ full with vegetable oil.

Step 4:

Add the colored water to the glass, leaving extra room at the top in case it rises.

Step 5:

Let your child drop in the Alka-Seltzer pieces one at a time.

Step 6:

Sit back and watch! 

⚠️Safety first: DO NOT let your child put the tablet in their mouths.

⬆️ For older preschoolers: Like all science experiments, have your child predict what will happen and why. 

⬇️ For younger toddlers: Have them pick the colors and help pour the mix together. Have the adult handle the tablet.

Playful Questions

What will happen when you mix the water and oil? 

What is the food coloring doing to the water?

Why do you think the liquids don’t mix together? 

What will happen when we add the tablet?

What color should we use?

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