Who needs to look up in the sky to gaze at the cloud formations when you can make your own cloud that you can hold in your hand. All you need is a plastic soda or water bottle and a few common household items. Try this easy at-home science experiment and create your own cloud in a bottle. It’s easy, fun, and educational.
1. Assemble your supplies. Have your supplies on hand before you start on this experiment. You will need:
- Plastic bottle with a cap: A 2-liter soda bottle is ideal for this experiment. Make sure to remove the label from the plastic bottle. Then you will be able to see the clouds when they form inside the bottle. It is also best to choose a clear bottle.
2. Pour hot water into the bottle. Use hot water from the tap. Pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the bottle (about 2 centimeters).
- Don’t use boiling water in a plastic bottle. The plastic might warp and the experiment won’t work. The water should be hot, though. Try for about 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Swirl around the water a bit to warm up the sides of the bottle.
3. Strike a match. Blow it out after a few full seconds. Make sure an adult is assisting you with this step.
4. Toss the burned match into the bottle. Tilt the bottle with one hand and insert head of the match into the top of the bottle. Let the smoke from the match fill the bottle. , where it will seem to disappear. Discard the match.
5. Screw the cap onto the bottle. Grip the neck of the bottle so that you do not squeeze the sides before the cap is screwed in completely. This prevents any smoke or air from escaping.
6. Squeeze the sides of the bottle hard. Do this three or four times. Wait a few seconds then squeeze the bottle again, this time holding the squeeze longer before releasing.
7. Look at the formation of fog in the bottle. You should see your very own cloud there! Putting pressure on the bottle’s sides forces the water particles to compress. When you let go of the sides of the bottle, the air expands, decreasing the temperature. When the air cools, the particles can stick together a little more easily, which causes them to clump into little tiny droplets around the smoke molecules.
This mimics the process of clouds forming in the sky. Clouds in the sky are made up of water droplets that have clung to tiny particles of dust, smoke, ash, or salt.
Science Experiment Tips
- Experiment with how many times and how hard you squeeze the bottle.
- If you do not have matches, you can use a lighter and a piece of paper or an incense stick to make the smoke that you need.
- Experiment with adding a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the water (distilled liquor also works) to make a more visible cloud.
- Use adult supervision when lighting and handling the match if you’re a child.
For more fun experiments, visit jmcremps.com science department where you’ll find all kinds of science experiments, science kits, and science books.