DIY Lava Lamp: An Oil & Water Experiment Kids Can Do At Home

All you need is a few common household ingredients for this STEAM fun!

By Essy Chen, publisher of Macaroni KID Chino Hills-Chino-Diamond Bar, Calif. July 19, 2023

It's time for some at-home science! Making your own lava lamp is a super fun experiment that combines science, art, and a touch of magic. My daughter loved it! 

All you need to make your own lava lamp are a few common household ingredients, and soon you'll have your own bubbling fun. 

Let's get started!

@macaronikidnational STEAM fun with some items you already have at home! Check out #linkinbio for this easy activity with your kiddos! #parentsoftiktok #fyp #foryoupage #kidsactivities #steamactivities #stemlife #kidsplay #momlife #momsoftiktok #lavalamp #diyactivities #diy ♬ I Know You - Faye Webster

What you need:

  • Water
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets
  • Measuring cup
  • Food coloring
  • Glass or jar for each color


1. Fill a glass or jar about 1/2 way full with your choice of oil.

2. Add 1/4 cup of water to the glass. Show kids how the oil and water separate and how the water settles at the bottom.

Why don't oil and water mix?

Oil and water don't mix because they have different chemical properties. Water molecules are polar, meaning they have a positive and negative end, while oil molecules are nonpolar. These differences cause them to repel each other, leading to the separation of oil and water into distinct layers.

3. Add 5-10 drops of food coloring to each glass. The food coloring will mix with the water, creating colors that stand out against the oil.

4. Drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet into each mixture and wait for the magic to happen! As the tablet dissolves, it releases carbon dioxide bubbles. These bubbles rise through the oil, carrying colorful droplets of water along for the ride, creating the lava lamp effect.

Keep the fun going by giving your child more tabs to add to the "lava lamp" throughout the day. 

Ready to get started on making your own DIY lava lamp? Gather your materials and let the magic of science unfold!

Essy Chen is the publisher of Macaroni KID Chino Hills-Chino-Diamond Bar, Calif.