Facts About the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment: A Fascinating Chemical Reaction

Discover intriguing facts about the elephant toothpaste experiment: its history, execution, and the science behind this captivating chemical reaction.


Have you ever wondered what happens when you mix a few simple ingredients and witness an explosive eruption of foam? That’s precisely what the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment is all about! This captivating experiment has gained immense popularity due to its visually stunning reaction. In this article, we will delve into the intriguing facts surrounding this experiment, guiding you through its history, execution, and the science behind it.

Chemist conducting experiments in a laboratory.

Chemist conducting experiments in a laboratory.

History and Discovery of the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment was invented by chemist Professor Shakhashiri, known for his remarkable contributions to science education. He developed this experiment to showcase the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide using a catalyst. Since then, the experiment has become a staple in science classrooms worldwide, captivating students and adults alike with its explosive results.

Over time, the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment has undergone several advancements, leading to variations in the execution and outcomes. Scientists and educators have explored different catalysts and concentrations, resulting in diverse and visually appealing reactions. Today, this experiment continues to amaze and educate individuals of all ages.

Step-by-step guide to performing the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment.

Step-by-step guide to performing the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

Materials and Ingredients

To perform the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment, you will need the following:

  • A clean, plastic soda bottle
  • Hydrogen peroxide (30% concentration)
  • A funnel
  • Dish soap
  • Dry yeast
  • Warm water
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • A tray or a large container to contain the reaction
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  1. Prepare your workspace by placing the tray or container on a stable surface. Ensure good ventilation and protect your eyes and hands by wearing safety goggles and gloves.
  2. Using the funnel, pour approximately 200 ml of hydrogen peroxide into the soda bottle.
  3. Add a few drops of dish soap to the hydrogen peroxide in the bottle. This will enhance the foam formation by trapping the released oxygen gas.
  4. In a separate container, mix one tablespoon of dry yeast with three tablespoons of warm water. Stir gently until the yeast dissolves.
  5. Quickly pour the yeast mixture into the soda bottle with the other ingredients. Step back and witness the extraordinary reaction unfold.
  6. The hydrogen peroxide rapidly decomposes, releasing oxygen gas, water, and heat. The dish soap traps the gas, resulting in a massive eruption of foam resembling a giant toothpaste tube.

Safety Precautions

While the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment is a thrilling demonstration, it is essential to prioritize safety. Always wear safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands from potential splashes or reactions. Perform the experiment in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes. Additionally, ensure that you dispose of the materials properly according to local guidelines.

Chemical reaction in progress during the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment.

Chemical reaction in progress during the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment.

Fascinating Facts and Science behind the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment

Chemical Reactions Involved

The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment revolves around the rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into water (H2O) and oxygen gas (O2). This reaction is exothermic, meaning it releases heat as a byproduct. The decomposition occurs due to the presence of a catalyst, such as the dish soap and yeast used in the experiment. The catalyst lowers the activation energy required for the reaction, making it happen more quickly.

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The “Elephant Toothpaste” Reaction

The reaction gets its name from the foamy eruption that resembles toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube, hence the term “Elephant Toothpaste.” The foam produced is primarily composed of water, soap, and oxygen gas bubbles. The rapid release of oxygen gas creates a visually stunning display that captivates anyone witnessing the experiment.

Potential Variations and Modifications

While the classic Elephant Toothpaste Experiment follows a specific set of instructions, there is ample room for creativity and exploration. Experimenting with different catalysts, concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, or even adding food coloring can lead to exciting variations in the reaction. By modifying the experiment, you can uncover new insights into the fascinating world of chemical reactions.


The Elephant Toothpaste Experiment is a captivating demonstration that showcases the power of chemical reactions. With its explosive foam eruption, this experiment never fails to leave observers in awe. By understanding the history, execution, and science behind the experiment, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the wonders of chemistry. So why not gather the materials, follow the step-by-step guide, and create your own mesmerizing eruption of “elephant toothpaste”? Prepare to be amazed!

Learn more about toothpaste or watch the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment on NCIS for more inspiration.

Remember, the Elephant Toothpaste Experiment is not only a fun and visually stunning activity but also an educational experience that sparks curiosity and promotes scientific exploration. Unleash your inner scientist and delve into the captivating world of chemical reactions with this remarkable experiment.

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