Elephant Toothpaste Science Experiment

elephant-toothpaste
credit: Matthew Rakola

Do elephants brush their teeth? Well, if they do, they definitely need some toothpaste, right? Elephant toothpaste science experiment is as cool and crazy as it sounds. Make elephant toothpaste with the kids and teach them about catalysts with this experiment that’s 100% messy and 101% fun.
STEM concept: Chemical reactions, catalysts
Challenge: Medium
Messiness: High

Ingredients to make elephant toothpaste science experiment :

  • clean 16-oz soda bottle
  • 6% solution of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tablespoon of dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • dishwashing soap
  • food coloring (optional)
  • small cup

Follow these steps to make elephant toothpaste :

Safety reminder: Hydrogen peroxide can irritate the skin and eyes. Put on safety goggles to protect the eyes before doing the experiment. It is best to let an adult pour the chemical. Children should be supervised by adults when doing the experiment.
This experiment will create a huge mess, so be prepared. It is best to do this experiment outdoors.

  1. Pour the hydrogen peroxide, food coloring, and dishwashing soap into the soda bottle. You may also add a few drops of food coloring to this mixture.
  2. Shake the bottle to make sure that the contents are thoroughly mixed.
  3. In the small cup, combine the yeast with some warm water and stir for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the yeast mixture to the bottle.
  5. Observe the chemical reaction that happens.

The science behind the experiment:

This experiment is called “elephant toothpaste” because of the big foamy reaction produced by the chemical reaction of the materials put together. Hydrogen peroxide produces oxygen and water when it breaks down. The yeast acts as a catalyst to make this breaking-down process faster.

The toothpaste is basically foam that is formed when the yeast causes oxygen bubbles to form from the hydrogen peroxide. The dishwashing soap allows the creation of more and bigger foam.

The creation of the foam is also an exothermic reaction, so it produces heat. Kids can touch the foam and bottle carefully to feel that they’re warm.

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