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How to Make Elephant Toothpaste

A quick and easy guide to elephant toothpaste. How to make it, why it works, and all the tips to make sure your experiment is a success! Get ready for fun!

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste

Making elephant toothpaste with your kids is a fun way to introduce them to some chemistry concepts! What's not to love about foam magically pouring out of a bottle? This elephant toothpaste recipe uses mild hydrogen peroxide and yeast to keep it safe and kid-friendly. 

What is elephant toothpaste?

Well, it's definitely not actual toothpaste for our tusky friends (or anyone else for that matter!) Elephant toothpaste is a science experiment and adventure rolled into one! And your kids will love it!  Essentially you use hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and yeast to create a reaction. That reaction produces something that looks like toothpaste being squeezed from an elephant-sized tube! What fun!

What do I need?

The ingredients for elephant toothpaste are affordable and widely available. 

  • An empty plastic bottle (like a soda bottle)
  • 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (at least 3%)
  • 1 sachet dry yeast (the kind you use for baking)
  • 1 cup warm water 
  • 1/4 cup liquid dish soap
  • A few drops of food coloring (optional)

How do I make it?

Start by mixing the yeast with warm water. Try to aim for around the same temperature as a baby's bath. Too cold and the yeast won't grow. Too hot and you'll kill the yeast. You want to let the yeast stand in the warm water for about 5 - 10 minutes. While the yeast is growing, take your empty bottle and start adding the other ingredients to it. Once all the elephant toothpaste ingredients are added give it a swirl and then take it outdoors or to a spot where you don't mind making a mess. It's about to get messy!

Once you're ready, pour all of your yeasty water into the bottle with the other ingredients. The reaction should start immediately and the foam should quickly fill up the bottle and overflow. At this point your kids will probably be shrieking with delight and you'll be congratulating yourself for choosing a spot that's easy to clean up. (The bathtub is not a bad option.)

Why does it work?

The hydrogen peroxide that you added to the bottle is slowly breaking down into water and oxygen. When you add the yeast, it catalyzes (speeds up) dramatically. The oxygen is a gas, so as it forms it pushed its way through the soap mixture and makes bubbles! The reaction also causes heat to be released, so if you feel the bottle or carefully touch the foam, you'll feel that it's warm!

Give me more ideas!

Looking for more fun ways to spend time with your kids? Save has some great, budget-friendly ideas for you. Learn more about stargazing, how to save money at the zoo, or find out why geocaching might be your family's new favorite hobby!

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