Science Experiment – Tornado

By AG Education 12 December 2017
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Create a ‘tornado’ inside a bottle

About this experiment

The core shape of a tornado, sometimes known as a twister, comes from a violently spinning column of air. You can create a similar vortex effect – rapid, tightly swirling fluid or air – by creating disturbance inside a water bottle.


  • Water
  • 1 or 2 clear plastic bottles with cap
  • Glitter
  • Dish washing liquid (not dishwasher liquid)
  • Optional: duct tape, metal washer (close to same diameter as bottle neck)


  1. Fill one bottle about three-quarters of the way full with water.
  2. Add a few drops of dish washing liquid and a pinch or two of glitter to the bottle before screwing the cap on tightly.
  3. Holding the bottle by the neck, flip it upside down. Rapidly move the bottle in a circular motion for several seconds until you see a miniature vortex forming in the water.

Centripetal force causes the water to go toward the centre as it’s moved circularly, allowing for the creation of the vortex.

Want to create a larger vortex?

  1. Pour out the contents from your original bottle. Fill one bottle with water as close to the top as possible.
  2. Place the washer on top of the filled bottle, then take the empty bottle and flip it upside down so that its neck is standing atop the filled bottle.
  3. Wrap duct tape tightly around the two bottle necks to securely connect them and create a single unit. Make sure that if you try to bend the two bottles apart, they don’t budge. You now have a “tornado maker!”
  4. Turn over your tornado maker so that the filled bottle is on top and water begins to funnel down into the lower bottle. Quickly spin the tornado maker in a circular motion so that a vortex forms in the lower part of the top bottle.

Do you want to keep learning? Find more experiments here!