How to Make a Small Tornado Using Fans

Written by shannon moudry
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How to Make a Small Tornado Using Fans
You can make a small tornado using fans. (Twister image by Isa from

Tornadoes are narrow rotating columns of air that form from thunderstorms. The column of air usually extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground below. Tornadoes are not always seen due to the fact that wind is invisible; however, as the tornado picks up dust and debris, it can be seen somewhat easier. To learn more about tornadoes and how they are formed, you can make a small tornado using fans, right in your own garage or basement.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Large cardboard box
  • Black paint
  • Knife
  • Incense stick and holder
  • Lighter
  • Box fan
  • Small fan

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  1. 1

    Create an area to house the tornado by cutting the front off of a large cardboard box. Paint the inside of the box black, to help you see the tornado easier. Let the paint dry and flip the box upside down.

  2. 2

    Use a knife to cut a square hole in the top of the box approximately 18 inches by 18 inches. Set the box on a solid cement surface to avoid any potential fire hazards. Place a stick of incense in the centre of the box on an incense holder or glass plate.

  3. 3

    Light the incense stick with a lighter and place a box fan, face down, on top of the cardboard box. Slide the fan so that it is centred over the square hole.

  4. 4

    Place a small fan in front of the box toward the right side. Point the fan so that the air blows toward the left side of the box. Turn the fans on, starting with the smaller fan, and adjust the speed until your tornado is formed.

Tips and warnings

  • If you don't have a large box you can create one by duct taping four pieces of cardboard together.
  • Turning both fans on high will result in a larger vortex tornado.
  • Keep a bucket of water handy just in case you need to put out a small fire.

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