CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Let's make a wizard or witches potion (to look at, NOT to drink)!
If you're looking for an easy, fun, at-home, Halloween-themed experiment on this cloudy weekend, this is for you.
The experiment is really easy and you may already have a lot of these items at home.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Yeast packets
- Food coloring
- Dish soap (recommended, but not necessary)
- Warm water
- Measuring cup and measuring spoons
- Plastic container(s)
- Flat surface
I used a cookie sheet with aluminum foil as my flat surface. It made cleaning way easier!
First, I chose my four containers. I put varying amounts of hydrogen peroxide inside (between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup). In my experience, more peroxide means a better reaction.
Second, I added food coloring to see the different colors (plus, it's fun!) I added dish soap to the green and blue colors. You don't NEED dish soap for the experiment, but it seems to add more bubbles.
Third, I poured one teaspoon of yeast into four different cups (since I was doing the containers simultaneously. You can use the same cup if you are not.) I then mixed two tablespoons of warm water into each cup. You don't HAVE to mix it, but I found the reaction was better when I did.
Last, but not least, I added the yeast and warm water to each different colored container and watched science happen!
Why does yeast interact with hydrogen peroxide?
According to Scientific American, when hydrogen peroxide breaks down, it turns into oxygen (O2) and water (H2O). You can speed the process by adding a catalyst.
Yeast is an organism that contains a special chemical called catalase that can help to break down hydrogen peroxide. Catalase is present in almost all living things that are exposed to oxygen, and it helps them break down naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide.
Once you mix the two, the hydrogen peroxide will rapidly break down into water and oxygen gas. The oxygen gas forms bubbles. Tada!
Explaining chemistry + exothermic reactions
If you do the experiment with the kiddos, they may notice that the container feels warm if you hold your hand to it. This is due to an 'exothermic reaction'.
Essentially, an exothermic reaction is a reaction in which energy is released in the form of light or heat. The energy is transformed into the container's surroundings giving off that warm feel.
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