How elephant toothpaste can help an elephant with those 9-pound molars
So, you don’t want to be a kid and instead want to be an elephant because you’ve been told elephants never have to brush their teeth? Well, we have news for you – there’s a lot more differences between kids and elephants than just their teeth. If you don’t believe that, try picking one up. Imagine being an elephant and always losing at hide and seek. Even when dressed in yellow and disguised as a banana they are easy to find in a crowd. They are large, gray, and wrinkly, and when they do brush their teeth – well, those are 9-pound molars they have to deal with. Now that we have your elephant yearnings out of the way, let’s make some elephant toothpaste and help those guys out. So go call your friends on the elephone and get them ready, this experiment is going to elephantastic fun (groan).
- Place the plastic bottle in the center of the cake pan.
- Place a funnel in the opening of the bottle
- Put 3 or 4 drops of food coloring in the peroxide
- Pour ½ cup of peroxide through the funnel into the bottle
- Add Dawn detergent to the peroxide in the bottle
- Pour the quick rising yeast into the bottle and quickly remove the funnel from the bottle.
- Touch the bottle and when the reaction begins, run like crazy!
The bottle will feel warm to the touch due to the exothermic reaction. Foam will shoot out of the bottle and fill the pan. As the reaction slows down, a stream of foam will come out of the bottle just like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube. The foam is simply soap and water so it’s ok to touch it (just don’t try brushing your teeth with it – this is elephant toothpaste and no matter how much you beg, you’re still going to be a kid).
The yeast acts as a catalyst that causes the peroxide molecule to release the oxygen atoms at a much faster rate. A small volume of hydrogen peroxide reacts to produce a big volume of oxygen gas. The detergent was added to catch the oxygen gas so we can see the reaction better.
The yeast contains catalase (your blood does too), and that helps the reaction happen faster, but the big thing to notice is that a small volume of hydrogen peroxide reacted to create a big volume of oxygen gas (the soap just helped catch it so we could see it better).
Elephant toothpaste experiment notes
Hydrogen peroxide’s chemical formula is H2O2, so you can think about it as water with extra oxygen attached.
The yeast in this experiment contains catalase which acts as the catalyst. Your blood also contains catalase which explains why hydrogen peroxide bubbles when you put it on a cut.
When mixed with baking soda and soap, hydrogen peroxide is used to remove skunk odor.
Some metals can be mixed with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to produce super hot steam. This reaction is used as a propellant to launch certain kinds of rockets.
Hydrogen peroxide, when put on a cut, acts as a cleaner and also slows the bleeding. Strangely, as with many oxidants, it also causes additional damage to the tissue.
Concentrated hydrogen peroxide, if spilled on clothing, will evaporate water until the concentration reaches sufficient strength, at which point the material may spontaneously ignite.
Elephant toothpaste experiment Supplies
Supplies: Plastic bottle, Food dye, Liquid detergent, Pie pan, Hydrogen Peroxide, Yeast
Video showing elephant toothpaste experiment
In-Article Image CreditsElephant Toothpaste experiment via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License. September 15, 2011
Featured Image CreditElephant Toothpaste experiment via Wikimedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License. September 15, 2011