Have you ever seen an elephant at the zoo or in the movies? Did you notice those big tusks? Those are actually two very large teeth.
Imagine if elephants had to brush those teeth? They'd need a very large tube of toothpaste!
In this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll be using some household items to produce an exothermic chemical reaction. The result is a fun oozing foam - big enough to use as elephant's toothpaste!
The main ingredient for this experiment is hydrogen peroxide - a common first aid supply. The hydrogen peroxide in your cabinet is probably a 3% solution, which will work just fine for the experiment. If you want a more powerful reaction, you can use 12% hydrogen peroxide, which you can find at beauty supply stores, but make sure you ask an adult to handle it. The adult should wear gloves, since 12% hydrogen peroxide can irritate the skin.
The red toothpaste was made using the standard 3% hydrogen peroxide.
The blue toothpaste was made using 12% hydrogen peroxide! If you decide to use 12%, make sure to have an adult help and use gloves! (Note: We propped up the bottle a bit so the "toothpaste" squirted out to one side!)
What's going on?
Did you make an oozing foam? Why did this happen?
The chemical formula for hydrogen peroxide is H2O2. This means it is made up of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. Can you see how similar hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is to water, H2O?
If you left a bottle of hydrogen peroxide open to the air, over time it would slowly break down into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2). The oxygen would be released as tiny bubbles of gas that would dissolve into the air. Eventually you would just be left with a bottle of water - but this would take a long time!
Adding yeast dramatically speeds up this process. This is because a package of yeast contains "catalase". Catalase is an enzyme that speeds up the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.
Note: When something speeds up a reaction it's called a catalyst. There are lots of different types of catalysts, but this one's easy to remember: catalase the catalyst!
In our experiment, the dish soap traps the oxygen gas (O2), which creates lots and lots of bubbles! All this bubbling makes the substance quickly expand and shoot out of the bottle.
You might notice that your bottle is now a bit warm! That's because this chemical reaction produces heat. This type of reaction is called an exothermic reaction ('exo' means outside or external and 'therm' means heat).
At this point what's left in your bottle in just soap, water and oxygen, so you can pour the remains of your experiment safely down the sink!SHARE WITH US!
For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope Science Kits on the Shop tab of our website!