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Elephant’s Toothpaste

Explore the science of this explosive elephant toothpaste experiment, and try your own version at home.

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Experiment with some enormous ‘toothpaste’, fit for an elephant.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) decomposes naturally into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2). By adding a few more ingredients we can make a huge, bubbly reaction to visualise this process. In this experiment we add dish soap, to help create bubbles, and a catalyst β€” which is a special chemical that allows us to fast forward a reaction.

We’ve used two different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide to show how the strength of a chemical can change the size of the reaction, but you can easily try this experiment at home with just a few household ingredients.

IMPORTANT: Please note, if you try this experiment at home you need to use hydrogen peroxide bleach, NOT a chlorine-based bleach.

What you’ll need:

  • Empty plastic bottle
  • 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid
  • 1/2 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Packet of active yeast
  • Warm water

Instructions

  1. our the dishwashing liquid and hydrogen peroxide into your bottle.
  2. Activate the yeast by stirring in a little warm water, waiting at least 10 minutes for the yeast to “wake up”. The yeast mixture is ready when the yeast has dissolved and the liquid starts bubbling. This will be the catalyst for this reaction.
  3. When you’re ready to start the experiment, add the yeast and watch how quickly the reaction occurs!

 

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