DIY Experiment: Cloud in a Jar

A hands-on project to help you see firsthand what the water cycle looks like. Follow these instructions and do your own experiment at home! | March 1, 2020

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To do the cloud in a jar experiment at home, you will need:

  • Large clear glass jar
  • Ziplock baggie or a large piece of aluminum foil
  • Matches or hairspray
  • Ice cubes
  • Hot water
  • Oven mitts/towel

  1. Fill up the ziplock baggie with ice cubes, or if using aluminum foil, fold the aluminum foil so that it has shallow walls. It needs to be big enough to cover the entire opening of the jar.
  2. Fill the large jar about ⅔ to ¾ full of hot water. The hot water warms the inside of the jar which is similar to the warm air that is needed when clouds form in nature.
  3. Next, using oven mitts/towels, empty the water from the jar until there is only about ¼ left in the jar. We are filling it up and then emptying it because this minimizes large temperature differences in the jar that could cause the glass to break.
  4. Strike the match and drop it into the jar. The water will extinguish the flame and a small amount of smoke will rise from the surface of the water. Or, if you have hairspray, spray some towards the surface of the water. The reason why you need matches or hairspray in this experiment is because the little droplets of water that evaporate need dust or particles to grab onto so when they float up to the atmosphere they can condense to form a cloud.
  5. Quickly place the ziplock baggie of ice or aluminum foil with the ice over the top of the jar.
  6. Now wait and observe a cloud forming in the jar. If you look closely you should see the warm moist air condensing and swirling in the area near the top of the jar where it comes in contact with the ice.
  7. If you wait long enough, you will also see precipitation inside the jar as the water droplets become so large they drip from the cloud that has formed.
    When your cloud has formed, remove the ziplock baggie of ice or aluminum foil with ice and watch the cloud come out of your jar.

Viola! You’ve just made your own cloud in a jar!

We want to see what you made!

Take a picture of you and your cloud in a jar and send them to us or tag us on Instagram (@resources_protects)!

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