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Make a Cloud in a Bottle


Clouds require key atmospheric ingredients to form.

  • Water
  • Dust particles
  • Temperature or pressure changes

To make your cloud in a bottle, follow the easy steps below.
WARNING Young children are cautioned NOT to do this experiment unsupervised!
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Under 10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Remove the label from your cloud bottle and rinse it thoroughly. Do not use soap and do not dry the inside.
  2. Add a small amount of very warm water to your cloud bottle. Replace the cap and shake it up so that water droplets are sticking to the inside of the bottle. Pour out the excess water.
  3. Carefully light a match and drop it into the bottle. Shake it up so the match burns out. The smoke adds one of the key ingredients for cloud formation dust.
  4. Immediately replace the cap and shake it back and forth 2-3 times. You now have the second ingredient water.
  5. Using both hands, squeeze the center of your cloud bottle as hard as you can. Then, release both hands evenly and very quickly. You are now simulating the third ingredient temperature and pressure changes.
  6. After several squeezes you should see a cloud that appears when you release your hands. If you don't see a cloud, try placing the bottle near a dark background for contrast.


  1. Explanation: How does a cloud form?
  2. For younger children: Smaller children can use a 16 oz. soda bottle. Adults will find a 2 liter bottle easier to observe.
  3. Advanced: Use a bicycle pump to change the pressure and see even more clouds. Watch Steve Spangler perform the cloud experiment live at a local news channel.
  4. Going further: Try using other sizes of dust particles. Design an experiment to determine the best size of dust particles to use. You could also test different water temperatures.

What You Need

  • A clear plastic bottle with a screw on cap
  • Matches
  • Warm water
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