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Have you ever heard about a viral experiment called Elephant Toothpaste? If no, then great – you might find it interesting to learn how to do it. If your answer is yes, then you will be delighted with the comprehensive explanation. So, let’s start!
In this experiment, we received a so-called elephant toothpaste. This fantastic effect you can get by combining just four ingredients: water, hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, and dish soap. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen. Usually, this reaction is prolonged. Therefore the catalyst is added. This catalyst is potassium permanganate. The large volume of oxygen is generated, and together with dish soap, it turns into a foam.
After all, please leave your comments below. I am curious how it goes for you.
In our experiment we used:
- Water – 200 ml
- Dish soap – 200 ml
- Hydrogen peroxide (3%) – 200 ml
- Potassium permanganate -10g
Due to the fact that hydrogen peroxide in high concentration can cause chemical and physical burns please keep precautions. In our experiment the hydrogen peroxide has low concentration, nevertheless it can still discolor fabrics. Please also stay away from open fire as quickly generated oxygen might rapidly react with it.
- work in distance from flammable things (wood, LPG kitchens, papers, curtains and so on)
- be ready to fade out potential fire
- use glasses at all time
- keep your hair tied up
- do not breath the gases
Additionally, this is so-called Exothermic Reaction – that means it creates heat.
Step 1 – Prepare container
Firstly, take a high water container. If you would like your foam to get out from the container use the short one. We prefer the tall one as it makes less mess and limits potential losses .
Step 2 – Pour the water and add potassium permanganate
In the step 2 we take water and fill the container with it. We are adding 10 grams of potassium permanganate and stir it.
Step 3 – Add dish soap
Take a dish soap or whatever you have that proved to be a good foam-maker and add it to our solution from Step 2. Stir it.
Step 4 – Prepare hydrogen peroxide and add it
Above all, to make the elephant toothpaste grow, we have to do one more thing – add hydrogen peroxide in one shot. While doing it, do it firmly and after pouring it step back. The reaction is really quick. Be careful.
Step 5 – Try different variations with colorful dyes
Congratulations! Probably you made it, therefore you can try to do it differently with different color food dyes. Maybe you love green color or maybe the red one – choose whatever your imagination tells you and have fun! 🙂
Please leave your comments below. I am curious how it goes for you.
Explanation for pros
Yes. Rapidly expanding foam contains oxygen, hence you’d better work in distance from flammable things (wood, LPG kitchens, papers, curtains and so on), be ready to fade out potential fire, use glasses at all time, keep your hair tied up, do not breath the gases
Elephant’s toothpaste is a foamy substance caused by the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide using potassium permangamate or potassium iodide as a catalysts.
This experiment shows the catalyzed decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) decomposes into water and oxygen gas, which is in the form of foam, but normally the reaction is too slow to be easily perceived or measured: 2H2O2 –> H2O + O2.
Too speed up the reaction the catalyst is used.
The reaction is exothermic; the foam produced is hot.
It happens because this reaction belongs to so-called exothermic reactions. The ones when heat is produced. It happens when more energy is produced than amount of energy was used to initiate the reaction. There is a lot of examples like that: burning of natural gas, Decomposition of vegetable matter into compost or nuclear chain reaction.
The original elephant toothpaste reaction, which uses a much higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide, can cause both chemical burns and physical burns. The light version uses chemicals that are safe for children to touch. Nevertheless, the lower concentration of peroxide can till discolor fabrics.
No. Never ever try to eat it. It contains hydrogen peroxide which dependently on the concentration can at least harm your body organs and in extreme version can cause death by brain stroke and heart attack.
The soap is used to help us “see” the reaction. Bubbles of oxygen become trapped in the soap, creating foam. The reaction occurs so quickly, releasing so much gas that the foam begins to flow out of the container.
The elephant’s toothpaste trick can be a nice experiment but please take precautions so your children have fun and good memories. If you liked the foam, you might like also my other experiment where I play with oxygen and hydrogen released in electrolysis reaction Please check my post How to seperate water into oxygen and hydrogen?
Please leave a comment below. We are curious what are your suggestions and results.