Elephant Toothpaste – Friday Fun with Frederick and Fleming

In our weekly summer segment Friday Fun with Frederick & Fleming, we do different little science experiments that would be fun to do with your kids. The goal with all of these is to use things you could find around the house or pick up at almost any store for a very little amount of money.

In today’s segment, we made what has been referred to as “Elephant Toothpaste”. These are simple and fun to do.

Items Needed:

  • Hydrogent Peroxide
  • Yeast
  • Dish Soap
  • Hot Water
  • Food Coloring (for optional colored foam)

Instructions:

  1. Pour about a cup of hydrogen peroxide into a bottle.
  2. Add some dish soap to the hydrogen peroxide and mix it up.
  3. Stir yeast into a cup of hot water.  Keep adding yeast until it won’t dissolve anymore.
  4. Optional – add some food coloring to the hydrogen peroxide for color and mix it up.
  5. Pour the yeast and water mixture and step back.

Science:

Hydrogen peroxide is chemically H2O2.  So, it is two parts hydrogen and two parts oxygen. An enzyme in our body will break apart the hydrogen and oxygen, which is why we see the bubbling.  Yeast has that same enzyme in it and therefore causes the reaction to occur quickly.  The yeast makes it bubble quickly and with the soap in it, the bubbles come out looking like the toothpaste.

Challenge:

Try putting the yeast directly into the hydrogen peroxide and soap mix.  Does it react as much as it does when in the water?

Experiment Notes:

If you have parental supervision, you can try a more powerful hydrogen peroxide bought at a hair salon supply store.  The 20 or 40 percent peroxide (compared to the 3 percent in the grocery store) will generate a bigger reaction. BUT, you need to be careful to not touch the hydrogen peroxide as it will really stain or burn your skin.  This mixture will also kill grass so be sure to do it on the pavement.

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