Cloud in a bottle

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Cloud in a bottle
Age Range all ages
Group Size small (1-5), medium (6-20)
Setting indoors
Setup Time short (0-5 min)
Duration short (5-10 min)
Subjects water, states of matter, water cycle
Key terms condensation, molecules, pressure
Materials empty water bottle (plastic or glass), water, rubbing alcohol, matches, pump
Alias make a cloud, create a cloud
Presentation Style demonstration, interactive, student led

Brief Description

Students will be able to observe and/or create a cloud in a bottle.

Scientific Background

There are tiny water molecules in the air and there are especially a lot on a warm day because the water has evaporated into the air. Water molecules don't normally want to stick together but you can force them together. In this experiment you will put pressure on water molecules in a bottle in order to force them to condense into a visible gas. When you release the pressure, it makes the air cooler and allows the water molecules to condense easier.

This Is How You Play

Easiest way

  1. pour a very small amount of water in a plastic bottle.
  2. Light two matches and drop them into the plastic bottle and then screw the cap back on. The match creates particles for the water molecules to stick to.
  3. Squeeze the bottle hard to create pressure inside the bottle. You may have to do this several times.
  4. Watch your cloud form inside the bottle!


  1. Pour a very small amount of water in a glass bottle.
  2. Add a rubber stopper to the end of a bike pump (preferably one with a flexible inflating tube) and plug the top of the water bottle.
  3. pump air into the bottle about 2-3 times until the pressure inside the water bottle pops the rubber stopper off.
  4. You may have to add matches to increase the visibility of the cloud.

Substitute rubbing alcohol

  1. You may want to use rubbing alcohol instead of water because it evaporates quicker because its bonds are more unstable.

See Also


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