Tornado Tubes




About: The name Cat’s Science Club comes from my daughter Aly, whom I call Aly Cat. She inspired me to take my love of science, and the fun I have with my students, to as many people as I can. Both my daughters hel...

We love making these tornadoes. The problem we come across is doing them cheaply. Sometimes we are making them for 24 or more kids in the classroom and the costs get beyond our means. When we are truly brave we add a bit of glitter and / or dish soap for some cool affects.


Step 1: Materials

You will need

2 Soda Pop or Water Bottles of the Same Size

Duct Tape

Step 2: Label Removel

Remove the label by adding hot water to the inside of the bottle. This helps melt the glue that holds the label on the bottle.

Step 3: Add Water

Add water to one of the bottles 3/4 of the way full.

Step 4: Prepare the Tape

Using dry hands tear off three pieces of tape that are about 4 inches long.

One piece needs to be torn into three equal parts.

The second piece of tape is torn in two equal parts.

The third piece of tape is left alone.

Step 5: Connect

Connect the two bottles by putting one on top of the other with openings placed on each other.

Using the thinner pieces (the ones cut into thirds), tape the bottle lips (openings) together. This is a good start to keep the bottles together. Use all three pieces.

It is much easier to have the thin pieces to start so they hold the bottles in place and don't slip when we apply more pressure with the thicker pieces.

Step 6: Another Layer

Add another layer of tape around the first three smaller tape pieces.

The 1/2 pieces are just the right size to go around the lip of the bottles without being interfered with by the collars.

Pull the tape around the connection as tight as possible. Repeat with second piece of tape.

Make sure to seal tape by applying pressure to the connection. We rubbed are hands around the connection several times.

Step 7: Last Layer

Add the last layer using the third piece of tape, the thickest of the three.

Take the last piece of tape and center it over the previous pieces. Wrap the tape tightly around the connection.

Make sure to cover the collar on both bottles.

Seal the tape by applying pressure all away around the tape where it touches the bottle.

Step 8: Test the Bottle

Test the bottle for leaks over a sink or outside.

We have made several of these with kids of varying ages and some are bound to leak. Don't want this leaking all over Momma Cat's kitchen or worse her carpet.

Step 9: Flip and Shake

Holding the bottles by their connection tightly (water in the bottom bottle), flip the bottles over so the water is now on top.

Shake the bottle in a circular motion. This will take some practice but it will get easier to do.

Step 10: Tornado!

As the water swirls around it will begin to create a vortex and what looks like a "tornado" will appear in the bottle!

Step 11: Did That Really Work?

With all the fake things on the internet, some may wonder if we used the tape or a store bought connector. We used the tape. Sorry our hand is in the way.

Also some maybe asking -weren't we looking at a smaller bottle earlier? Yes, yes you were. We switched over to the bigger bottles so that people could see the tornado better.

Step 12: Clean Up and Enjoy

Clean up any and all water spills.

Recycle the lids from the bottles.

Enjoy your taped tornado tube!

Step 13: Things We Learned

Things that we learned

1) The bottles that crush easier are no good for this.

2) Not all Duct tape is equal. Use duct tape that doesn't curl up when tearing into the smaller pieces.

3) Test outside. We were bound to get leaks with such small kids making theirs.

Step 14: Video

Here is a video of the step by step directions with the tornado in action.

Forward to 1:51 to see the small tornado tube in action.

Forward to 3:55 to see the larger tornado in action.



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    19 Discussions

    Cats Science ClubC8theGr8

    Reply 22 days ago

    Ever add food coloring or dish soap to the ones you made? Glitter? We added glitter before and talked about galaxies.

    C8theGr8Cats Science Club

    Reply 22 days ago

    I certainly did! I liked to add silver-colored glitter. I did this as a home-schooler in elementary school in science.


    27 days ago

    Awesome yet simple project! I've designed a 3D printed adapter that connects two bottles to make tornadoes: It's not 100% leak free, but if you print with 100% infill and over extrude a little, it should be very water tight.

    1 reply

    Tip 4 weeks ago

    Nice tornadoes. As the big chunk of this instructable is about taping and sealing the two bottles together, I just wanted to ask if you thought about gluing the lids top to top and drilling the hole through both to get the connector without buying one? Or just cutting the two tops and taping them as this is the tape contest;) Either way you'd end up with something that is more likely to seal, test it only the first time and keep it for the next time, unless the taping itself is an important part of this lesson.

    1 reply
    Cats Science Clubmmishko

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Great questions. I have been making these for over 20 years and have tried all kinds of ways. I used to hot glue the lids together (after sanding them) and drill a whole between the lids. Worked but was a major weak point and the kids would break them in minutes of playing with them. Also tried supper glue, crazy glue, etc. and same thing.

    We just had a camp and made 28 tornado tubes. Most worked well and we had 1st and 2nd graders making their own (along with older kids too).

    Things that we learned 1) The bottles that crush easier are no good for this. 2) Not all Duct tape is equal. Use duct tape that doesn't curl up when tearing into the smaller pieces. 3) Test outside. We were bound to get leaks with such small kids making theirs.


    Question 4 weeks ago

    does the taller bottle work better than the smaller ones?

    1 answer
    Cats Science ClubJohnC430

    Answer 4 weeks ago

    Hi. The larger bottles work better as in they have a longer tornado. Longer, skinny bottles also work well for the tornado to last longer. So I would say yes the taller the better.


    Question 4 weeks ago on Step 12

    Would hot-melt adhesive be less fiddly than multiple pieces of tape, and less likely to leak?

    1 answer
    Cats Science ClubSilverL2

    Answer 4 weeks ago

    Hi. Is hot-melt, hot glue? We tried hot glue and it doesn't work as well. Maybe a good start to keep things in place and then add all the tape. I like that idea.


    4 weeks ago

    If you have never done this... you didn't have a childhood.


    4 weeks ago

    Thanks for pointing out how easy it is for tornadoes to form! A long time ago I was at state fair and they sold these connectors that allowed you to screw two bottles together (instead of duct tape). It was a lot of fun to swirl and get a vortex.

    1 reply

    Thanks for looking at our instructable. They are fun and a bit addictive. Even our 76 year old grandma was having fun with it today. Seriously.


    Question 4 weeks ago on Step 12

    I've read that several times I've seen there's reference to openings in the lids being alingeed, but not how you make them or I guess critically how big

    1 answer
    Cats Science ClubStan1y

    Answer 4 weeks ago

    Hi. We just lined up the bottles without their lids (caps). No holes were made. Hope this explains the openings. Have fun building yours.