Science Fun: Tornado in a Jar

It’s science day! We were going to do an experiment with magnets until I found the tornado in a jar experiment on Pinterest.

Here’s all you’ll need:

  • Jar with lid
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Clear liquid dish soap
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • image

    Here’s what to do:

    1. Fill jar 3/4 full with water.
    2. Add 1 tsp each of vinegar and dish soap.
    3. Add food coloring.
    4. Tighten lid and start swirling and shaking.

    Since both air and water are fluids, they move in similar ways and so we are able to create a real “tornado” or vortex in the jar. As you shake or spin the jar, the the water presses up against the glass of the jar while the more sluggish liquids, dish soap and vinegar, slowly start spinning. When you stop suddenly, the water moves at one speed and the dish soap and vinegar at another creating a mini vortex in the jar.

    Don’t blink or you’ll miss it! It was near impossible to see the vortex in the jar with food coloring (as usual Joe got a little overzealous with the blue), so we created a second jar without the dye. As you can see, it’s difficult to catch “on film” but Joe had a blast shaking it over and over again.

    “Look Mommy! A tomado!”


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