DIY Science: Snowstorm in a Jar
The first day of spring (also known as the 2017 Spring Equinox) is next Monday, March 20, and we’re celebrating the last (official) week of winter by creating a Snowstorm in a Jar. Using ingredients you probably already have on hand, create a mesmerizing snowstorm for a fun and educational science experiment.
What you’ll need:
- clear jar
- white paint
- baby oil
(The measurements below worked in a half pint mason jar – you may need to adjust your measurements depending on your jar size.)
Step 1: Mix 1/8 cup water with ~.5 oz white paint. Carefully add it to your jar.
Step 2: Gently layer 1/2 cup oil on top of the paint/water mixture.
Step 3: Add as much glitter as you’d like on top of the baby oil.
Step 4: Drop in the Alka-Seltzer and watch your snow storm!
What we learned:
Oil and water don’t mix.
Water molecules are polar – they have a small positive charge at one end, a small negative charge at the other end, and they stick to each other. Oil molecules are non-polar which means they have no charge. Because of this, oil molecules are more attracted to each other than to water molecules, and water molecules are more attracted to each other than to oil molecules, so oil and water don’t mix!
Oil floats on top of water.
Oil is less dense than water (a spoonful of oil weighs less than a spoonful of water), so it is lighter and it floats to the top. Water is denser, so it’s heavier and it sinks to the bottom.
This fizziness comes from a chemical called Sodium Bicarbonate which is essentially two Carbonate molecules connected to a single molecule of Sodium. The other key active chemical is Citric Acid which is found most commonly in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes. When this harmless acid mixes with the Bicarbonate in water, bubbles of Carbon Dioxide are created (which also makes your favorite soda and other fizzy drinks fizzy.) Learn more about these fizzy reactions with our Science Academy: Bath Bomb Lab!