How to Build a Tornado in a Bottle

Written by frank whittemore
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How to Build a Tornado in a Bottle
A simple toy can help to visualise the form of a tornado. (Twister image by Isa from

A tornado is a meteorological event that causes air to form in a spiralling funnel called a vortex. Water can also behave in the same manner, forming a whirlpool. A simple toy, called a Tornado Tube can help make the form of a tornado observable. The tube connects two large soda bottles together. When water is swirled and allowed to flow from the upper bottle to the lower bottle, the air and water pour freely from one bottle to the other, forming the characteristic vortex pattern. Coloured lamp oil added to the water makes the tornado that much more visible.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Two empty 2-liter plastic soda bottles
  • Tornado Tube connector toy
  • 59.1ml coloured lamp oil

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  1. 1

    Remove the labels from the soda bottles to make the tornado easy to see. Remove the bottle caps, if necessary, and rinse the bottles out thoroughly.

  2. 2

    Add the coloured lamp oil to one of the soda bottles. Fill the same soda bottle almost to the top with water.

  3. 3

    Thread the Tornado Tube toy onto the mouth of the filled bottle. Thread the mouth of the second empty soda bottle onto the other end of the Tornado Tube.

  4. 4

    Hold the two bottles firmly. Invert the bottles and quickly swirl the water in the bottles until a vortex forms.

  5. 5

    Place the bottle on the table to observe the tornado that forms as the water and oil drain from the upper bottle to the lower bottle.

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