This snowstorm in a jar is such a fun winter science experiment! It’s really easy to put together and it looks so cool when it starts “snowing”! With all the sparkly glitter, my kids said it looked like a snowglobe. They had so much fun dropping in the Alka Seltzer and watching the chemical reaction that causes the snowstorm!
We’re supposed to get 6 inches of snow today. I keep looking at the radar maps and looking out the window (still nothing), like it’s some kind of exciting game. When is it going to start? Is it going to get really bad out there?? Am I going to get pelted with snow when I walk to pick up the kids from school this afternoon???
There’s nothing worse than freezing snowflakes blowing into your eyes while the wind keeps blowing off the hood of your jacket. It’s pretty much the story of my life at this time of year when I walk the kids to and from school. The wind ALWAYS seems to blow right in my face no matter what way I’m going. #winterlove
I woke up this morning and the thermometer said it was -22C (-7F) outside. Yikes! Somehow I managed to convince my husband to walk the kids to school so I wouldn’t have to go out in the cold. I stayed home and enjoyed my hot coffee while he hiked through the 6 inches of snow we already have outside. Win for me! Brrrr…
This snowstorm in a jar is such a fun activity for a snowy winter day. Or maybe you live somewhere where it doesn’t snow? It’s also a great way to get a small feeling of winter in your home without actually experiencing the cold… which is sounding kind of nice at the moment!
Snowstorm in a Jar Winter Science Experiment
Here’s a list of what you’ll need, including affiliate links to products on Amazon that are similar to what I used:
Make sure you check the dollar store for all the ingredients! You can get the paint, baby oil, mason jar, glitter, and possibly even a generic brand of Alka Seltzer there.
Make sure the Alka Seltzer has citric acid and sodium bicarbonate in the ingredients since that’s what’s going to cause the chemical reaction in our experiment.
Fill a mason jar about 2/3 full with baby oil.
Add a small squirt of white paint to about 1/4 cup of water, then stir it until it’s combined. You want the water to be a nice white colour so you can see it in the oil.
I used a 16 ounce mason jar, so if your container is a different size, adjust your amount of water accordingly.
Pour the white water mixture into the jar.
The mixture will fizz up towards the top a little bit when you do the experiment, so don’t fill your jar all the way to the top or you’ll end up with quite a mess.
Add some iridescent glitter to the jar.
You can also add coloured glitter if you like. But if you do, don’t add too much because it makes it kind of hard to see the snowstorm through solid coloured glitter.
Break up the Alka Seltzer tablet into small pieces, then drop two or three into the jar.
You can see my little piece of Alka Seltzer falling to the bottom of the jar in the image below.
Then watch what happens!
The white water bubbles up through the baby oil making a little snowstorm in a jar!
Each time you add the Alka Seltzer pieces the snowstorm lasts about 45 seconds.
Depending on the size of your jar, some of the white paint will end up covering the sides of the jar as it falls back down to the bottom. That’s why it looks a little cloudy in the image below.
As far as I can tell, you can keep adding more and more Alka Seltzer to your jar and redo this experiment over and over. If you run out of water, you can just add more.
After you’ve done it once, you might want to wait about 5 minutes for the oil to clear up and for the paint to settle to the bottom again. But that’s totally optional. You can still see enough bubbles to just keep going and going!
When you’re done with your little jar, simply put the lid back on and store it away for another day. You can keep using it over and over!
Let’s Talk About Science!
There’s lots of cool science stuff going on here!
For starters, the water is more dense than the oil, so it sinks through the oil and sits at the bottom. Also, the oil and water are immiscible (un-mixable), so they will always separate back into separate layers.
The acrylic paint is water based, so it will mix with the water to make white water. If you used oil based paint (for example, blue would be lovely!), the oil paint would mix with the baby oil and make the oil blue.
On a side note, food colouring is also water based, so if you add it to your jar, it will mix with the water and will make your bubbles blue.
The Alka Seltzer has sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and citric acid in it. When those mix with water they form bubbles of carbon dioxide which rise up to the surface through the oil. When the carbon dioxide is released into the air, the remaining water falls back down through the oil. (Why? Because water is more dense than the oil)
The carbon dioxide carries some of the water and paint mixture up with it. Since the oil and water are immiscible, these bubbles are easy to see in the oil. If we were doing this experiment without any oil, we’d basically have a fizzing jar and we wouldn’t be able to see those awesome little bubbles rising up and falling down again!
This snowstorm in a jar is such a cool winter science experiment! It uses simple materials and it’s a great way to learn about weather, density and other cool science topics!
Here’s even MORE experiments to try:
For more fun weather related science experiments, check out our tutorial for making a tornado in a jar. This is REALLY easy to throw together and it looks so cool!!
You can also make shaving cream rain clouds. This one is a great activity to learn about clouds, rain and storms! Plus it’s really pretty to watch.
For more fun craft ideas, check out our new book Low-Mess Crafts for Kids for 72 fun and simple craft ideas for kids! The projects are fun, easy and most importantly low-mess, so the clean up is simple!
Where to buy:
You can purchase Low-Mess Crafts for Kids from Amazon, or wherever books are sold: