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How to Make Liquid Motion Toys

Updated April 17, 2017

Since the 1970s, liquid motion toys have been entertaining and are slow-moving distractions for people of all ages. The lava lamp was the first object to use liquid motion, which is a composed of oil and water. Nowadays, liquid motion toys come in the form of desk paperweights, pencils and snow-globe type domes. Decorate your home, office, or clasroom with this simple, kid-friendly recipe to make a liquid motion toy.

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  1. Empty and clean the contents of the bottle. Place a funnel in the mouth of the bottle. Pour vegetable oil into the bottle until it is three-quarters full.

  2. Pour one cup of water into a separate container. Squeeze a few drops of food colouring into the water and stir. Fill the remainder of the bottle with the coloured water.

  3. Break the antacid tablet into small pieces. Drop one piece into the mixture and wait for it to dissolve completely before adding the next piece. Continue adding the rest of the pieces in this manner. Do not shake or stir the bottle. If you are using salt instead of the antacid, pour a few tablespoons of salt into the mixture, until the oil begins to form a glob and sink to the bottom.

  4. Replace the cap on the bottle and screw tightly. Tip the bottle to see the liquid motion commence.

  5. Tip

    Tall containers work best to show the lava effect.


    Parental supervision is recommended when building liquid motion toys.

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Things You'll Need

  • Plastic or glass beverage bottle with cap
  • Funnel
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food colouring
  • Effervescent antacid tablet (e.g., Alka-Seltzer) or salt
  • Water

About the Author

Since 2008, Jen Kim has been a professional writer and blogger, working for national publications such as Psychology Today and Chicago Tribune affiliates. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern University.

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