Instructables

How to Make a Vortex in a Bottle

FeaturedContest Winner
Picture of How to Make a Vortex in a Bottle
Vortex 2 bottles.JPG
Vortex 2 lids.JPG
Vortex 2 lids (2).JPG
Vortex 2 spins.JPG
Vortex color water.JPG
Vortex glued together.JPG
Vortex supply list.JPG
Vortex lids.JPG
Vortex lids on bottom.JPG
We have had one of these around the house for years.  Our grandchildren, of all ages, love to watch the water swirl from the top bottle to the bottom bottle.  Our 2 ½ year old grandson would bring it to one of us, to have us swirl it, over and over again.  The first time I saw this principle used in life was when a Marine swirled a bottle of wine into a punch bowl, at a military wedding. It was way cool then, just as cool now.  Here is How to Make a Vortex in a Bottle.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1:

Picture of
Supplies:
2 straight walled, 2 liter bottles with caps
5 minute epoxy (about $4.00 at craft stores)
Electrical tape
Small paper cup
Toothpick
Drill
½ drill bit
Candle
Matches
Pliers
Large nail
Sand paper, medium grit
Food coloring  (your choice of color)

Step 2:

Picture of
Vortex lids.JPG
Here is the safety precaution:  Be careful when using the drill, the epoxy and the lit candle.  If you are a Kid under age 18, have an adult help you with this project.  If you are an adult, use common sense when making this project. 

Clean the labels off the 2 liter bottles.  Leave the white plastic ring on the bottle. It will help hold the caps in place when you are ready to make a vortex.

Step 3:

Picture of
Use the sand paper to smooth down the tops of the two caps.  These caps are not level so try to make them as level as possible.  They do not need to be perfect. The sanding isn’t so much as to make the tops smooth, but to rough up the tops so that the epoxy will stick to them.

Step 4:

Picture of
There are two ways to make the hole between the caps.

1.  Using the drill, drill a hole in each cap.  Match the holes up and then mix the epoxy in the small paper cup, with the toothpick.  
vincent75202 years ago
then are we north or south of the equator ?…

when I went to Brasil I was dumb enough not to have checked which side water turned when emptying from a tub in Europe, so when I got there I never really found out !!!…

childish, isn't it ?… (I'm 63 !!!!…)
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/149/do-bathtubs-drain-counterclockwise-in-the-northern-hemisphere
Does the vortex speed up as it runs or is it constant speed once it gets going? Maybe you could add some particles of something so we could tell this in the video?
Thanks
Brian
The speed will increase until the liquid's viscosity limits the speed it can go, then it will go the same speed from then on.

You can go faster with a fluid of lower viscosity or if the bottle is larger diameter.
craftknowitall (author)  gaiatechnician2 years ago
I was right the first time, according to the law of conservation of angular momentum, if it was going as a constant speed, but over a shorter distance, it would look like it is speeding up, when in reality it is going a constant speed. Bernoulli's Principle has more to do with air than liquids.
You're right it would look faster, but it actually does go faster as it spirals in as well.

Angular momentum is speed times distance from the axis, and the distance has gone down, so conservation means it must have speeded up!

It's like tornadoes, that's how they get such incredibly high wind speeds.
craftknowitall (author)  gaiatechnician2 years ago
I will not be redoing the video any time soon, but I did drop a plastic bead into the bottle and watched it swirl. It seems to be affected by Bernoulli's Principle. As it approached the contriction in the neck of the bottle it sped up. If I had thought it through more completely, I would have realized it that would be true. Thanks for looking.
craftknowitall (author)  gaiatechnician2 years ago
I really don't know! I think that it goes down at a constant speed. I will need to do some thinking, maybe put tick marks down the side of the bottle and see how fast the water moves from one tick mark to the next. Let me think. Why don't you create one perform your own experiment? Thanks for looking.
heathbar642 years ago

so, how do you keep the water from all running out of the top bottle while you are swirling it up? and what effect does changing the hole size have?
craftknowitall (author)  heathbar642 years ago
If you turn the bottle upside down, the water slowly glug, glug, glugs it's way down ward. You have plenty of time, to get the water to swirl before it all goes down the spout. You can experiment with the hole size, the larger the hole the larger the base of the vortex. Pretty basic. If you want, you could make a square hole and see how that works, that would make a great experiment and I would love to hear about the results. Thanks for looking.
ok, I made mine today. I'm thinking of trying smaller bottles for the next one. 2 litre's seem a bit cumbersome
instructables 026.JPGinstructables 027.JPG
Kozz2 years ago
I was wondering whether I could weld the plastic somehow, rather than use epoxy, and found this great video. I hope it can help someone else, too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjMB-IsvURo&feature=player_embedded
craftknowitall (author)  Kozz2 years ago
The maker of that video contacted me based on the you tube video of the vortex. Right now Iam revamping how I make them and will up grade my Instructable. Thank you so much for sharing, and thanks for looking.
louis.m2 years ago
My mother taught me how to empty a bottle faster, by using a rotating wrist movement causing a vortex while holding the bottle upside down.
Royski louis.m2 years ago
That's what some bottled beer drinkers do in competitions. It allows the displacement of air without the glugging effect. They swirl then quickly turn the bottle, open the epiglottis and pour straight down.
craftknowitall (author)  louis.m2 years ago
You've got it! This is just for the fun of watching it. Plus you learn a little science on the side. Thanks for watching.
I've done these before, but one trick I figured out is that the bottle caps will fit nice and snug inside a piece of 1" (I think it was one inch off the top of my head, maybe 1 1/4") PVC Pipe. Just cut the pipe just long enough to hold to the two bottle caps, epoxy them into the pipe, and then when the epoxy dries drill the hole.

Using the PVC pipe makes the joint very strong so little kids can go nuts on it with no issues of breaking the joint, etc.
dewexdewex2 years ago
That's beautiful, and really well described in your write up. Thanks. I wonder if you could put a little pump to transfer the water from the bottom to the top and introduce it into the top bottle with a jet at an angle; a bit like a cyclone vac in reverse. That way it would be continuous.
craftknowitall (author)  dewexdewex2 years ago
You know, I have never thought about that. It is so easy to turn it over and start up the swirl, that part of the whole weather thing never intered my mind. Fun idea though. Thanks for looking.
dewexdewex2 years ago
Scratch that, this looks easier http://www.instructables.com/id/Water-vortex-tornado-Machine/ ;)
Ray-l-l2 years ago
Love it. Simple, yet I could watch one for hours.
craftknowitall (author)  Ray-l-l2 years ago
I have! Thanks for looking.
ramicaza2 years ago
I'm sorry if this insults anybody but how did this get featured?
craftknowitall (author)  ramicaza2 years ago
I really have no idea. No insult taken. Appearantly, an editor saw this instructable and chose to feature it. Thanks for looking.
Well, I i kind of went - "Huh?" myself. Seems rather obvious for a feature piece. Then again is IS pretty cool, and anything that gets new people interested in science is definitely worthwhile!

Side note - I used to work in a HS science lab, and used distilled water to prep most of the chemistry. Flipping a 5 gallon water jug's spout into the 20 gallon large bottle - the water would take a while to flow from the 5 on top down into the 20 below. Glub --- glub --- g l u b -- g l u b .....

To speed up the transfer process, I used to give the full 5 gallon on top a quick swirl, which set up a vortex and allowed the entrained air in the lower jug to move up through the restriction while the water in the top jug flowed down and filled the main one. Every so often the kids would glance into my prep lab and see the tornado, and their eyes would go wide.
craftknowitall (author)  Lt.Greg2 years ago
Like I said, no offense taken. I know the reaction I get from it from my grown children and grandchildren. I am still not sure what I did right to get it noticed. Thanks for looking.
rhdy2 years ago
I first saw something like this (single bottle only) some 25+ years ago in high school from my physics teacher. He said this was the fastest way to empty a bottle because the air coming up through the middle enabled the liquid to empty most efficienty (as opposed to the "glurg glurg" interrupted pouring out). I'm guessing somewhere, sometime, someone has tested this.

Later I worked in a store that sold all sorts of items, and one was a Tornado Tube - you attached the two bottles to the threaded tube.
craftknowitall (author)  rhdy2 years ago
Where am at the tubes are hard to come by and bottle caps are not. Thus my instructable. Thanks for looking.
Australians, some africans, south americans and researches on Antartica are going to get diffrent results
No. See http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadCoriolis.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_misconceptions#Physics
craftknowitall (author)  cesarakg2 years ago
Hi! Thanks for the info on the coriolis effect. I hope it helps him undedstand. Thanks for looking and commenting.
craftknowitall (author)  desmondtheredx2 years ago
Doesn't matter which direction it swirls, it will still swirl, only exception would be if it freezes solid in Antartica, etc. Thanks for your comment.
oh yyeah 4got bout freezing in antartica
leea92 years ago
A store near me has sold a device to do just this for years. Nice science toy for the kids.
craftknowitall (author)  leea92 years ago
I got tired of looking for one, so I decided to create one for myself. And it worked. Thank you for looking.
Nice! I always loved playing with this!
So have I, thanks!
rimar20002 years ago
Very interesting.
craftknowitall (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Thanks.
sunshiine2 years ago
Thanks for sharing! These are so fun.
Sunshiine
craftknowitall (author)  sunshiine2 years ago
Thank you for looking.
GummiBear2 years ago
so cool! im going to make one with glitter in t and bits of painted cardstock or cardboard!
craftknowitall (author)  GummiBear2 years ago
Post a picture so that I can see it! Try to make the cardstock or cardboard water proof, or it will get soggy and disintigrate. You're right, that would be so cool.
I think its more like "Vortex in Bottles".

Cool, though.
craftknowitall (author)  blinkyblinky2 years ago
The vortex is only in one bottle at a time. The top one. Thanks for your comment.
You're welcome.
omnibot2 years ago
Nice, this is so much fun. Any kid or child at heart can spend hours just watching the swirl. I made this once but witch a short piece of pvc between the caps and no glue or tape. It worked to but was a bit wobbly. Small action figures inside the bottles make fun to <3
craftknowitall (author)  omnibot2 years ago
How about a cow or a tanker, like in the tornado films?
rammstein22 years ago
will it work if i use ,oil for example, differently coloured (so that the colors appear to mix when swirling) or will the viscosity of the oil "kill" the swirl??
craftknowitall (author)  rammstein22 years ago
I haven't tried it. Why don't you try and let me know how it works. I think the swirl will still be the same though. Thanks for your comment.