Home Science: Plastic Bottle Experiments

Written by Michele Wheat

Plastic bottles are a useful tool for learning about science. Many science experiments you can conduct at home involve plastic bottles and just a few other materials or ingredients. Because some of these experiments involve heat, fire, sharp tools, and/or air pressure, you should always have an adult helping and supervising the steps. You might want to start keeping a science notebook to record your experiments and the results.

  • Blobs in a Bottle: With a few household ingredients, you can make colorful blobs in a bottle, which happen because oil and water don't mix.
  • Soda Bottle Science Experiments: A two-liter plastic bottle is a perfect place to create liquid fireworks, bubbles, or dancing raisins by conducting these science experiments.
  • Make a Tornado in a Bottle: With a plastic bottle, dish soap, water, and glitter, you can make a water vortex that looks like a tornado.
  • Balloon Inside a Bottle: An empty plastic bottle might look like there's nothing in it, but there's still air taking up the space inside, as this experiment shows.
  • 10 Science Experiments You Can Do With a Plastic Bottle: With adult supervision, you can make a fire extinguisher or a sneezing alien using a plastic bottle and other materials.
  • Cool Science Experiments Using Pretty Much Nothing But Water: Explore pressure and force with a plastic bottle and water. Have an adult help you puncture a hole in the side of the water bottle, though.
  • How to Crush a Water Bottle: You'll need an empty plastic bottle with a cap, ice, boiling water, and ice water to create enough pressure to crush this water bottle.
  • What Happens to a Plastic Bottle in the Cold Air? Warm a plastic bottle, put the cap on it, and put it into the freezer. As the bottle cools, it will collapse due to air pressure changes inside.
  • The Draining of a Plastic Bottle: Integrating a Physics Experiment Into Calculus: Combine calculus and physics with a simple demonstration of how a plastic bottle drains water from a small hole.
  • Air Pressure Experiments for Middle School: Use a plastic bottle, water, a straw, and some modeling clay to demonstrate how air pressure behaves in an enclosed area.
  • Fog in a Bottle: Learn about how clouds form and how temperature and pressure help water vapor to condense or evaporate by creating a cloud of fog inside a plastic bottle.
  • Making a Greenhouse (PDF): Build a greenhouse in plastic bottles using soil, plastic wrap, rubber bands, a light source, and a few other materials.
  • Eight Simple Chemistry Experiments That Your Kids Can Do at Home: Make a fountain with a two-liter bottle of soda, mint candies, and a tube. Be sure you're in an outdoor area because the fountain will make a mess.
  • Blowing on Bottles: Explore music by blowing across the top of a bottle. Add some water to the bottle and experiment with how the sound changes when you blow across it again.
  • Making a Bottle Rocket: Make an exciting bottle rocket using an empty plastic bottle, cardboard, a cork, and an air pump. Changing air pressure is the source of the lift-off, but make sure you have an adult helping you with this activity.
  • Air Pressure Experiments: Explore air pressure with these experiments. The Cartesian Diver experiment requires a plastic bottle filled with water and some modeling clay.
  • Bead Bottle: This experiment almost looks like some sort of magic trick, but it's really a demonstration of how objects float in liquids of different densities.
  • Plastic Bottle Flowers (PDF): Ask an adult to help you make plastic bottle flowers with an empty plastic bottle, some acrylic paint, floral wire, and a candle to gently melt the plastic.
  • Tsunami in a Bottle (PDF): Use an empty two-liter plastic bottle, some gravel, and water to simulate a tsunami in the enclosed container.
  • Go With the Flow: Add some liquid soap and food coloring to a plastic bottle, and then fill the bottle to the top with water. Cap the bottle tightly, and then twirl it gently to see what kinds of patterns happen with the ingredients.
  • Bubbles on Bottles (PDF): The temperature of air has an effect on the size of bubbles, and you can create conditions that will impact these bubbles with plastic bottles and a few other materials.
  • At-Home Yeast Experiment (PDF): Use yeast, sugar, warm water, and a plastic bottle to inflate a balloon without blowing it up yourself.