Introduction: Easy Cloud in a Bottle

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Clouds are a vital part of our weather system. They provide us with shade from the powerful sun. They give us water when it rains so crops and vegetation can grow. Our world would be a totally different place without them. The land would be dry and solid after being baked by the sun so it wouldn't be able to support plant life and many other organisms would probably not survive.

Check out the project video above or click here.

It is easy to mimic the formation of clouds at home so you can get a better understanding of how clouds are made or just play around with the dense water vapour left in the bottle.

This method of creating clouds in a bottle is a great way to understand how clouds are formed in real life. I am aware of other methods that use isopropyl alcohol and a bike pump however that way is rather artificial and doesn't demonstrate how real clouds form. It's a great experiment that only needs a few items as stated in step two. This makes it a great experiment to do with kids to demonstrate the formation of clouds or just for the fun of playing with a smoke like substance and making some awesome smoke doughnuts in the air (explained in step 5).

So let's begin...

Warning: Fire is used during this instructable. It is a good idea to do this outside. Make sure you are not near any combustible materials and just use your common sense. I take no responsibility for personal injury or damage to property following your misuse of fire.

Step 1: Gather Parts

There are a few things that you need for this experiment:

  • An empty plastic drinks bottle. (The bigger the better - two litre pop bottles will work great but smaller water bottles will also achieve the same effect).
  • One of the following: A wooden splint OR a piece of paper screwed up into a roll OR an incense stick.
  • A small amount of water.
  • An ignition source i.e. a blowtorch, lighter or matches.

You don't need any tools for this experiment.

    Step 2: Prepare Bottle

    To start, put a small amount of water in the empty bottle. About an inch of water in the bottom will do.

    Next, tightly screw the lid on to the bottle to keep the pressure inside (it's no good if the bottle deflates when you stand on it as the water can't vapourise).

    Afterwards, stand and jump on the bottle to pressurise it. When you do this, the pressure rises and so does the temperature. This causes some of the water to vapourise and raise the humidity level inside the bottle.

    Step 3: Add Smoke Pollution

    Clouds are formed when water droplets in the air collect on microscopic particles of dust or pollution such as smoke.

    This is called the condensation nuclei.

    To create the pollution for the water droplets to form around, take a strip of paper, a wooden splint or an incense stick and light it with your lighter, blowtorch or matches.

    Next, remove the lid from the bottle and blow out the flame. Quickly put the paper, wooden splint or incense stick into the bottle to capture the smoke.

    Hold it for a few seconds to allow the smoke to collect in the bottle then remove it and quickly put the lid back on to trap the smoke inside.

    Step 4: Make Smoke

    To make the cloud, stand on the bottle for a second time and jump on it to compress the contents. The more pressure you put the bottle under, the more cloud you will produce.

    When you release, a cloud should be formed on the inside.

    Try standing on the bottle again and the cloud will disappear as the pressure increases. If you then release the pressure, the cloud will return.

    Step 5: Done!

    Remove the cap, hold the bottle up to the light and slowly squeeze the sides of the bottle. Your cloud will slowly pour out of your bottle.

    To take it to the next level, try making smoke doughnuts:

    Lightly squeeze the bottle in a fast motion to see the smoke rings shoot up into the air. They will look as though they are spinning around into the center. You will be able to see them a lot clearer if you hold the bottle up to the light. Sometimes it doesn't work so just keep varying how hard you squeeze the bottle and you should get it.

    Check out the project video above or click here.

    Thanks for trying this experiment. It's a great way to understand how clouds are formed or just have fun by making smoke doughnuts. If you have any problems, please comment below and I will try and help you out.

    Happy Making!