What is a Baby Soda Bottle?

Durable, plastic test tubes have many creative uses.

Baby Soda Bottles are large, clear, and plastic. Unlike ordinary glass test tubes, these thick-walled plastic tubes can be thrown in the dishwasher, dropped, tapped, or stepped on and they just won't break! Baby Soda Bottles are really “baby” soda bottles … they’re actually 2-liter bottles as they appear before being blown up into big bottles. The tube is placed into a vacuum mold and heated. Then, very hot air is blown into it, stretching the plastic like a balloon so it fills the inside of the mold. The tube grows to about 40 times its original size. When the plastic cools, the mold is opened and the bottle falls out ready to be filled with a delightfully refreshing liquid.

Over the years, Steve Spangler popularized the name Baby Soda Bottle (BSB) for this test tube looking container… and now you know why. These clear, durable test tubes are used for safe science experiments in classrooms everywhere.


What can you do with a Baby Soda Bottle? Here are just a few ideas…

  1. A Discovery Tube – Use the test tube to collect all sorts of goodies on your next nature walk. Use the test tubes to collect dirt samples, leaves, or good ol’ bugs!
  2. Liquid Laboratory – Use the test tubes to collect samples of water from ponds and streams to study later using a magnifying glass or microscope.
  3. Roots with a View – Grow a plant in the test tube and see the roots sprout. Learn about roots simply by placing dirt inside the test tube along with a few seeds. Try growing grass, radishes, or whatever you desire. Learn how plants develop and watch roots search for water and nutrients.
  4. Wave Bottle – Fill the test tube 3/4 full with vegetable oil. Fill the rest of the bottle with water and add a few drops of food coloring. Seal the bottle with the cap. Notice how the dye colors the water and not the oil. Tip the bottle back and forth to create waves of fun.
  5. Time Capsule – Use the test tube to hide a secret message or as a way to store information that will be opened sometime in the future.
  6. Color Shake-up – This activity requires a small amount of colored lamp oil. Be careful not to get the lamp oil around any open flames. Fill the test tube with equal parts of lamp oil and water. Food coloring can be used to color the water (the oil cannot be colored with food coloring). If you are using yellow lamp oil, color the water with a few drops of blue food coloring. Seal the test tube with a cap and shake up the liquids. Yellow and blue makes green.
  7. Make Your Own Twister – Fill the test tube 3/4 full with water and add a few drops of liquid soap. Seal the bottle with a cap and start twisting. The swirling motion of the soap and water will make a twisting, turning vortex. It’s your very own pet tornado!
  8. Dancing Beads – Fill the bottle half full with small Styrofoam Balls (like those found in bean bag chairs). Add water until the beads begin to overflow the bottle. Seal with a cap and watch the Styrofoam beads jockey for position in the bottle.
  9. Sands of Time – Place layer after layer of various colors of sand in the test tube to make a colorful rainbow.
  10. The Marble Challenge – Fill the test tube 3/4 full with sand and place a marble on top of the sand. Seal the tube and try to find a way to move the marble from one end of the bottle to the other as quickly as possible. Make two or three and challenge your friends.
  11. Popsicle Mold – You must use a brand new test tube for this activity. Wash the test tube out using soap and water. Fill the test tube 3/4 full with your favorite fruit juice. Push a clean popsicle stick down into the juice and seal with a cap. Place the test tube upright in the freezer and wait for the liquid to freeze. These test tubes are perfect for this activity since they will not crack or break in the freezer.
  12. Pocket Size Ant Farm – Fill the test tube with dirt, a little sprinkle of sugar, and some friendly ants. After a few days you will observe some cool ant tunnels.
  13. Layers of Fun – Fill the test tube with different liquids to see which liquids mix or layer on top of each other. How many individual liquids can you layer? What happens when you add ketchup to cooking oil and waffle syrup? You make a mess!
  14. Flower Holder – Fill the test tube half full with water and use it as a flower vase.
  15. Rain Gauge – Use a permanent pen and a ruler to mark off half inch increments on the test tube. Put the tube in an open area outdoors to collect and measure rainfall.
  16. Message in a Bottle – Place a message in the test tube and seal it with a cap to make it water tight. Float the message in a bottle to a friend… across the pool!
  17. Pop Goes the Weasel – Find a cork that fits snugly into the opening of the test tube. Fill the bottle 1/4 full with water. Divide an Alka-Seltzer tablet into quarters and drop one section into the tube. Quickly seal the test tube with the cork and point the corked end away from anything living. Pow! The cork goes sailing.
  18. Bubbling Colors – Use commercially available Color Mixing Tablets to color the water in each test tube. Tub Tints are commonly found in department stores in the toy section. They are made out of a special kind of dry food coloring that won’t stain your hands. These colored tablets fizz when you drop them in water because a chemical reaction takes place between the water and the tablet, producing carbon dioxide bubbles.
  19. The Erupting, Bubbling Blob – This activity uses the Color Mixing Tablets mentioned in Bubbling Colors. Fill the test tube 3/4 full with cooking oil (ordinary vegetable oil works well). Add one cap full of water to the oil in the test tube. Notice how the oil and water do not mix. Drop one of the Tub Tint colored tablets into the test tube, but do not seal the tube with a cap just yet. Watch what happens to the bubbling water on the bottom of the tube. After the lava blobs have stopped bubbling, fill the rest of the tube with oil until it’s almost overflowing. Cap the tube tightly. Tip the test tube back and forth and watch what happens. The tiny droplets of liquid join together to make one big lava-like blob!
  20. Travel Containers – Fill the test tubes with your favorite soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, hand lotion, sunscreen, or whatever else makes you happy for your next vacation.
  21. Glitter Wand – Fill the test tube 3/4 full with cooking oil and add an assortment of colored beads, glitter, and Mylar confetti. Top the tube off with cooking oil and seal with a cap. Tip the tube back and forth to make your glitter wand sparkle.
  22. Underwater Flashlight – This is the perfect activity for the person who loves building circuits out of batteries and bulbs. Construct a simple circuit using a light, some wire, and a AA size battery. Place the glowing lightbulb circuit into a clean, dry test tube and seal it with a cap. You’ve just made a waterproof flashlight.
  23. Insect Collector – These test tubes are great observation chambers to view your favorite little insects. Be sure to poke a few holes in the cap to let them breathe!
  24. Get Organized! – Clean out that junk drawer and get organized with the World’s Greatest Test Tubes. Use the tubes to store nuts, bolts, screws, safety pins, stick matches, buttons, small earrings, crayons, beads, your Tic-Tac breath freshener collection, pieces of lint that are special to you, teeth… anything that will fit through the opening of the test tube.
  25. Magnifying Glass – Fill the test tube to the very top with water and seal it with a cap. Hold the test tube up against newspaper print to magnify the letters. The water magnifies the message.
  26. Rhythm Tube – Fill the test tube with an assortment of beads, pebbles, nuts, bolts… you name it. Seal with a cap and start shaking. Experiment with different materials as each will make its own unique sound.
  27. Color Mixing with Your Eyes – Fill three test tubes almost to the top with water. Add two drops of blue food coloring to one test tube and seal it with a cap. Do the same thing with the other two using yellow and red food coloring. Hold each test tube up to your eyes near the light to observe the color. Now, cross the yellow and blue tubes in front of your eyes, looking through both of them at the same time. What color do you see? Green! Cross the red and blue tubes in a similar fashion to make purple. What color does red and yellow make?
  28. Color Mixology – See how many colors you can make by mixing the colored liquids in the previous experiment in a clean test tube. Pour the same amount of yellow and blue colored water into a clean, empty test tube. What color did you make? What happens if you use twice as much blue liquid as you do yellow liquid? Is the color different? Try to make a complete rainbow of colors using 8 test tubes.
  29. Test Tube Twist – Stretch a rubber band around all three test tubes that you made in the previous experiment. See the illustration for clarification. Hold the tube trio up to your eyes and look at the light. What colors do you see? Now, slowly twist the test tubes and watch the colors change before your eyes. Cool!
  30. Pearl Swirl – Add 1 tablespoon of Pearl Swirl concentrate to a 1-liter soda bottle filled with water and add Color Mixing Tablets to spice things up (blue makes an excellent ocean color). Demonstrate ocean currents or the flow of a liquid.


© 2001 Steve Spangler Science