Awesome science video of the week – Elephant Toothpaste

As a part of providing something a little more interesting, I’ve decided to share an awesome science video with you each week – something creative, interesting or just downright bizarre.  Chemistry doesn’t need to be boring equations and lame test tube reactions that don’t work.  Sometimes a little bit of science is an awesome thing!

This week I’ve been teaching the chemistry bridging course at UTS, which is partly why it’s been a week since my last post.  As part of one of my lectures on the first day, we were looking at comparing the behaviour of water (H2O) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) – seeing how one tiny difference in the molecular formula has a profound effect on how a substance behaves.  So we watched a video on YouTube of the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide.  Now this reaction is normally very slow, but if we add a catalyst, the reaction becomes violently fast! Bubbles of oxygen gas are produced really, really quickly, which would normally just make it fizz a little, so nothing fun there.  But if we add a little detergent and food colouring to the mix, we make the magical Elephant Toothpaste! Enjoy!

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3 responses to “Awesome science video of the week – Elephant Toothpaste

  1. One of my colleagues was scrambling around our prep room yesterday so he could do this demo. I love it!

  2. How do we do this at home?

    • Some hydrogen peroxide from the chemist or supermarket (6% is good but I think that the 3% stuff will still work OK), a packet of dry yeast (as the catalyst), some dishwashing detergent (for foam) and some food colouring for character! I’ve even seen one version where they drip two different colours down the sides of the container to make striped toothpaste!

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