Elephant Toothpaste Experiment – So how big would an Elephants Toothbrush be?

 

So how big would an Elephants Toothbrush be? That’s a great question!

Elephant Tooth Brush

The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment is one of those experiments that really helps captivate the minds of children and serves as a great introduction to fun science. The name itself provokes the imagination and the resulting reaction does nothing to disappoint eager young scientists.

There are also a number of ways to customize the outcome using food coloring and glitter, keeping young scientists interested for longer. You will be amazed at some of the colors and patterns produced in the foam.

Unlike the Mentos Geyser experiment, this one is quite okay to perform indoors, using an aluminum food tray to capture any unwanted spillages.

Safety First!

This is a child-friendly version of the elephant toothpaste experiment, so you will be using a lower strength volume of Hydrogen Peroxide for the experiment. The 6% Hydrogen Peroxide is readily available from a local hair care store or supermarket.

Also, as always it’s important to wear goggles to protect your eyes.

The solution produced by the reaction is safe to touch and contains no unwanted or dangerous chemicals, for that reason, it is a fantastic experiment to perform with younger children as well.

Having said that, I think it’s needless to say that you shouldn’t attempt to brush your own or your child’s teeth with this “toothpaste”. The detergent really wouldn’t taste very nice!

What Do We Need To Make Elephants Toothpaste?

  • Clear Plastic Bottle – 1L
  • Funnel
  • Aluminum Food Tray
  • Dish Soap
  • Dry Yeast Packet
  • Cup for mixing the Yeast
  • 6% (20-Volume) Hydrogen Peroxide -180ml (6oz)
  • Safety Goggles
  • Food coloring
  • Glitter (optional)

Preparing The Ingredients

Okay, it’s time to prepare your ingredients both for the solution and the catalyst, which will speed up the exothermic reaction.

Let’s concentrate on the solution first, so it’s time to put those goggles on!

  1. Place the funnel into the neck of the plastic bottle and slowly add the Hydrogen Peroxide into the bottle. The solution is stable so there is no reason to feel apprehensive or nervous.
  2. Add 3 or 4 squirts of dish soap to the bottle. Give the plastic bottle a swirl around so that the soap becomes thoroughly mixed up with the hydrogen peroxide. If your soap is colored then this will also act to produce the color of the toothpaste. If your soap is clear you also have the option to add some food coloring or glitter at this stage.
    The glitter really helps to make the reaction look more intense and child-friendly.

Put the solution to one side and let’s make the catalyst.

  1. Empty the pack of dried yeast into the cup
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of warm water to the cup
    Note: Adults Please – The water should not be boiling but use the warmest water you safely can, from the tap.
  3. Mix the yeast so that all the yeast is dissolved into the warm water.
  4. Once the yeast is mixed thoroughly it time to bring the catalyst and solution together.

Time To Make Some To Elephant Toothpaste

Elephant Toothpaste Science Experiment

  • Place the Solution bottle on an Aluminum food tray and make sure that the funnel is securely inserted into the bottleneck.
  • Next, pour the yeast mixture into the bottle via the funnel.
  • Quickly remove the funnel from the bottle and watch the reaction.
  • You will see that foam starts to rise up in the bottle, eventually escaping and continue to form in the food tray. The bootle will also feel warm to the touch

As the name suggests, the resulting foam looks like large spirals of giant toothpaste. The foam is safe to touch so encourage your children to get their hands messy.

Can You Explain The Reaction?

Let’s take a look at what happened to produce this chemical reaction and also help you to prove that the solution left behind is safe.

In order to explain it in detail, we need to take a look at the main ingredients, their chemical composition and how they reacted or changed when combined with each other.

The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment is an example of an “Exothermic Decomposition” reaction.

It sounds a bit of a mouthful but can be easily explained as a reaction that produces heat when a molecule breaks down into its separate parts or smaller molecules.   Hydrogen Peroxide will naturally decompose in normal conditions for example, inside a bottle in the store over a long period of time.

Of course, that would be too long for us to wait and it wouldn’t produce any kind of notable reaction, so we need something to help speed things up a little.  This is where an enzyme catalase, in this case, dry yeast, comes in to play.

The yeast simply acts as a catalyst to speed up the decomposition of the Hydrogen Peroxide molecule into two smaller molecules.

Elephant Toothpaste Science Experiment

The Hydrogen Peroxide decomposes into water (H2O) and Oxygen (O2), as a gas.

The breakdown occurs rapidly producing a little heat as the Oxygen gas becomes trapped inside the soap, forming a visible foam.

You will be left with soapy water and Oxygen which dissipates into the air as it is released from the foam bubbles.

As mentioned previously the water is perfectly safe to touch as all the Hydrogen Peroxide has decomposed.

A World of Color!

Experimenting with different food colorings can bring some interesting and hilarious changes to the foam mixture. Tailoring the colors to different events or holidays is a great way to further engage your audience.  Using red and green at Christmas time or black and orange during Halloween are some of the ones I’ve tried with great results.

I hope you enjoy this engaging Elephant Toothpaste Science Experiment with your children and have as much fun as I did with my own kids.

As with all of the experiments here at BestScienceExperimentsForKids.com, I would be very interested to hear your feedback and comments.

Tell me how this experiment worked out for you and your kids!

Questions, as always, are very much welcomed.

Happy Experimenting!

Nick

nick@bestscienceexperimentsforkids.com

 

4 comments

  • Nimrodngy

    Thanks a lot for such an amazing article about this experiment for kids. You really got me. 

    My boy love this kind of experiments. The last experiment we did together was the mint candy with  coca cola. He was so excited that we had to consume few bottles of juice and 2 packets of candy. As you said, safety first. I can’t wait to do this experiment called elephant toothpaste with my boy. 

    It is wonderful when you can use all of this chemistry and physics knowledge and turn it into something fun and interesting. Thanks again and i hope to see more experiments like this. Me and my boy are waiting for it. 

  • Dave Sweney

    I loved this post on the elephant toothpaste experiment! The grandchildren will love it too as I try this out with them over the holidays. Since there are also some science lessons involved, I will bookmark this post so I can explain that to them as well so not only will they have some fun, they will learn too.

    The exothermic reaction point I need to explain is best done with this page open! I am not a scientist so I am sure I will screw it up! These are the kinds of things that the kids love to do though, so I think I may have to look at some more posts to see what other fun experiments we can do.

    For the holidays especially, I believe you have a new fan and follower. Thanks for this, and the kids thank you too (they do not know it yet, but they do!). I wish you the best with this website, I will get the word out to other grandpas out there that need it!

  • Jannette

    I am glad come across this toothpaste experiment for kids, as well give my grandkids something to do while they wait on arrival of a baby sister. My grandsons love to mix colors in their bath from Crayola bath drops and just have concern about using toothpaste. The boys love to brush their teeth so, therefore, makes want to ask if this experiment is safe?

  • yoge

    The article about”Elephant Toothpaste Experiment – So how big would an Elephants Toothbrush be?” is wonderful.It remembers my childhood days. We did this experiment for fun process but i don’t know about any reaction . After seeing your article it makes me to learn about the Exothermic Decomposition reaction. Thank for giving the rememberable information and keep creating more article for viewers,your friend yoge

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