Photo of a mason jar, clear plastic cup, and a can of hairspray.

Try This: Make a Cloud in a Jar

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Cloud in a Jar

Can you make a cloud in a jar? Absolutely! With just a few things from around the house you can simulate the conditions needed for clouds to form.

Here’s what you need:

  • A jar with a lid
  • A cup or hot water
  • Ice
  • Aerosol spray, like hairspray

 

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pour hot water into the jar. The water should be hot, but not to the point of boiling.
  2. Swirl the water to warm the jar.
  3. Place the lid upside down on top of the jar. Fill the lid with ice cubes.
  4. Remove the lid and quickly spray a bit of hairspray. Cover quickly.
  5. Watch as the cloud forms inside the jar. After the cloud fills the jar, you can remove the lid to watch the cloud escape.

 

What’s going on:

A cloud needs a few things to form:

The first: Warm, moist air. For our cloud in a jar, the warm water and taking the time to swirl the water to warm the jar provided this.

Second? A cooling process. For the cloud in a jar, our ice did this!

Last, clouds need a cloud condensation nucleus. This provides something for water vapor to condense. A simple speck of dust could be a cloud condensation nuclei, but in this case it was the tiny particles from the aerosol spray.

  • Photo of a clear plastic cup with cotton balls in it, a mason jar with water in it, and a can of hairspray.
  • Photo of a mason jar with water in it and cotton balls on the top of it.
  • Photo of someone spraying hairspray into a mason jar that has water in it.
  • Photo of someone spraying hairspray into a mason jar of water. The cloud of hairspray is visible.
  • Photo of a mason jar with a cloud of hairspray inside. The lid is on and there are cotton balls on top.