Dinosaur Toothpaste

Hydrogen peroxide is used to fuel rockets, airplanes, and other vehicle engines. Chemistry teachers everywhere use it to demonstrate the power of a catalyst.

To speed up a reaction without altering the chemistry of the reaction involves adding a catalyst. A catalyst changes the rate of reaction but doesn’t get involved in the overall chemical changes.

For example, leaving a bottle of hydrogen peroxide outside in the sunlight will cause the hydrogen peroxide to decompose. However, this process takes a long time, and if you don’t want to wait, you can simply toss in a lump of charcoal to speed things along.

The carbon is a catalyst in the reaction, and the overall effect is that instead of taking two months to generate a balloon full of oxygen, it now only takes five minutes. The amount of charcoal you have at the end of the reaction is exactly the same as before it started.

A catalyst can also slow down a reaction. A catalytic promoter increases the activity, and a catalytic poison (also known as a negative catalyst, or inhibitor) decreases the activity of a reaction. Catalysts offer a different way for the reactants to become products, and sometimes this means the catalyst reacts during the chemical reaction to form intermediates. Since the catalyst is completely regenerated before the reaction is finished, it’s considered ‘not used’ in the overall reaction.

In this experiment, you’ll see that there’s a lot of oxygen hiding inside the peroxide – enough to really make things interesting and move around! You’ll also find out what happens to soap when you bubble oxygen through it. Are you ready?

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18 Responses to “Dinosaur Toothpaste”
  1. Aurora says:

    You can simply leave out the food coloring 🙂

  2. Marla Ramsum says:

    Can you use ketchup instead of food coloring????????????????????????

  3. Aurora says:

    No… I should really call this experiment something else so there’s no confusion. I thought it looked like toothpaste since the red and blue streaks along the sides reminded me of aquafresh I used as a kid. And there’s a lot of it, so it made be think of dinosaurs.

  4. Andrea Krudy says:

    Can we use the toothpaste for our teeth?

  5. Aurora says:

    Sorry for the confusion – there’s no audio during that time! I should have been more clear. Thanks for checking!

  6. Cherrilyn Matson says:

    Hi Aurora, at the 2:33 mark in the video the audio actually disappears and then comes back at the 2:56 mark. I don’t know if you did that on purpose or not but I don’t want to miss what you’re saying in those 23 secs!


  7. Aurora says:

    It doesn’t – but if you make it any hotter, you’ll kill the yeast.
    On second thought, aim for no higher than 110 deg to be sure to you don’t kill the yeast.

    Nope – just the one mentioned in the experiment. 🙂

  8. BJ Lackey says:

    Why does the temperature have to be so specific? Also, are there any other catalysts that you can use for this experiment?

    Thank you,


    P.S. Supercharged Science Rocks!!!

  9. misscrys79 says:

    Thank you–we will give that a try shortly. (The boys say “Thank you Aurora!”)

  10. Aurora says:

    You can warm it in a pot on the stove – just make sure to clean it thoroughly before using it for food! Use a thermometer as you stir so you don’t warm it too much. Less than 130 deg F is ideal.

  11. misscrys79 says:

    Do you have any recommendations for heating your soap and H202 mixture without the use of a microwave (we don’t own one). Thank you in advance for answering our question!

  12. Sophia Pitcher says:

    That’ COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. MJ Wixsom says:

    love it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

  14. Leanne Burgess says:

    That’s epic -Josh

  15. Caroline Wood says:

    This is amazing. I have never learned so much of science in my life…and if I’m learning, then I can teach more effectively.

  16. Aurora says:

    It’s the oxygen generated by the reaction – it comes from the hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide is H2O2, which is water with an extra oxygen attached. It’s easy to pry off this extra oxygen, which is exactly what this reaction does. The catalyst makes this occur faster than usual. And no, it’s not real toothpaste.

  17. TRACY RAYNOR says:

    Oh YEAH! The comment below, was created by Skylar. 😉

  18. TRACY RAYNOR says:

    It’s not actual toothpaste right? 😀 And also, what makes the “toothpaste” rush out of the bottle so quickly? Is it the oxygen in there that causes air pressure pushes it out? Or is it just the hydrogyn peroxide?

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