Spooky (or Psychedelic): DIY Lava Lamp

October 23, 2020

Whether you’re staying in or heading out to trick-or-treat, we want to make your Halloween a little more colorful.

Cue the creepy witch cackle! It’s time for a half science, half craft project that’s bound to bring you back a few decades.


We’re making a totally groovy (and easy) DIY lava lamp, courtesy of Columbia Art Center Director Liz Henzey.

Art Center Direct Liz Henzey

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.


DIY Lava Lamp


  • Glass or Plastic container (1 or 2 liter soda bottle)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Water
  • Funnel
  • Food Coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer Tablets

Lava lamp step 1-2Lava lamp step 3

  1. Fill the glass or plastic bottle two thirds of the way with vegetable oil. (Yes, this takes A LOT of oil.)
  2. Pour the water into the bottle, leaving about an inch at the top.
  3. Add several drops of food coloring and observe the drops as they break through to the water.
  4. Break an Alka-Seltzer tablet into 3 or 4 pieces.
  5. When all the liquid settles and clears, drop the tablet into the bottle.
  6. Once the tablet begins to fizz, it will create gas and carry the colored water molecules with it through the oil.
  7. As soon as the tablet is finished fizzing, the Lava Lamp effect will stop and you can add another tablet.

Watch a video of our DIY lava lamp:




Whoaaaaaa. Next, try adding different colors or glitter.


The gang should be hypnotized for a while. Quick, go raid the candy! 😂



This can turn into a bit of chemistry lesson if you want it to! Once you start adding different ingredients, you can talk about how oil and water have different densities, which means their molecules are packed differently. Do your kids know why the two don’t mix (click here for those fun facts)? Just like that, science is a little cooler than before.


If you have a young artist on your hands, we have a TON more arts and crafts ideas posted on our CA at home page. Projects are even broken down by age.



CA insider info: Want more of a creative release? Art Center is back open. Check out what’s available here.



For more tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.

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“Never regret anything that made you smile.” – Mark Twain

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