How to Make a Tornado in a Bottle Using Dishwashing Liquid

A tornado that forms over water is called a waterspout.
••• Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Tornadoes occur on every continent except for Antarctica and can occur almost anywhere in the United States, although they are most prevalent in "Tornado Alley" in the central portion of the country. Tornadoes form when warm, moist air meets cool, dry air and the air starts rotating, forming a spinning column of air that has the potential to destroy buildings, uproot trees and cause other serious devastation. One way to safely study the way air in a tornado moves is to create a water vortex using a bottle and some dishwashing liquid.

    Find a clear, 2-liter plastic bottle or clear glass canning jar with a tight-fitting lid that will not leak. Fill the bottle or jar up about three-fourths full with water.

    Put about three drops of dishwashing liquid in the bottle or jar with the water.

    Add a few pinches of glitter to the bottle. This will make the mini-tornado easier to see and more interesting to look at. You can also drop a few marbles or similar items into the bottle, if you wish.

    Put the cap or lid on the bottle or jar tightly, making sure it is completely sealed.

    Turn the bottle upside down and hold it by the neck with one hand, keeping your other hand on the bottle's bottom. Quickly spin the jar in a circular motion, holding the cap end steady and swirling the opposite end.

    Observe the movement of water and glitter, as well as any marbles or other items you added. Repeat the swirling as desired. It may take a few attempts to master the technique and create an impressive mini-tornado.

    Things You'll Need

    • 2-liter bottle or glass jar with tight-fitting lid
    • Dishwashing liquid
    • Glitter
    • Marbles (optional)

Related Articles

Cool Science Projects for 13-Year-Olds
How to Build a Model Tornado
How to Make a 3D Model of a Hurricane
How to Simulate a Tornado
Fun Science Experiments for Adults
How to Make a Homemade Submarine That Floats & Sinks
How to Calculate Volume of a Circular Cylinder
Science Projects with Dishwashing Liquid
How to Connect Two Two Liter Bottles
How to Make Crystals Using Borax
How to Make Crystals with Epsom Salt
How to Make a Whirlpool Science Project
How to Measure Carbonation Levels
Fun Chemistry Experiments for High Schools
How to Mix Vinegar & Baking Soda in a Bottle Rocket
How to Make Volcanoes With Spray Foam
Junior Science Fair Projects on Releasing Carbon Dioxide...
Water Bottle Science Experiments
Egg in Bottle Science Projects
How to Explain Bernoulli's Theorem Experiment to Kids