Clouds are so mesmerizing to see, how about making one of your own?
Yes, you can make cloud at your home, in a bottle in 3 simple steps.
First, let’s see the method and then science behind cloud formation.
- Take a one-liter plastic bottle. Fill it ¾ with water.
- Shake it well. The aim is to moisturize the air inside the bottle.
- Light a match, and let it extinguish such that some smoke enters the bottle. Alternatively, you can use rubbing alcohol. Spread it all inside the bottle and then fill it with water
- Squeeze the bottle and release it. You can use a bicycle pump to blow air inside the bottle (through the cork)
Caution : While using an air pump, make sure to hold to stopper tightly so that’s pressure builds up properly.
- Now, Quickly remove cork (or bottle cap) to release pressure. Woah! You own cloud is formed.
You can repeat steps 4 and 5 to see better results.
Now let’s dive into the science.
How do clouds form in bottle?
Short Answer: Pumping air into the bottle forces water vapor to squeeze together or to compress. Releasing the pressure quickly allows the air in the bottle to expand quickly. In doing so, the temperature of the air in the bottle becomes slightly cooler. This cooling allows the water vapor to stick together – or condense – more easily, and form tiny droplets.
You may know that Clouds are nothing more than gazillions of groups of tiny water droplets,
but this is not the whole story.
How do real clouds form?
Let’s see cloud formation in three steps.
- Due to Sun’s heat, water vapors are formed. Hot air rises up in the air. As we move upward in the air, temperature decreases. Cooler air cannot hold as much water vapor as warmer air.
- These vapors condensate back into tiny water droplets. But that’s not enough.
- These gazillion tiny droplets stick to tiny particulate matter like tiny particles of smoke, dust, soap, etc. present in the air.
- Clouds are formed!!
Fun fact: Venus is the only planet in our solar system which doesn’t have clouds
Formation : Real clouds vs. Cloud in a bottle :
Supersaturation: air holding maximum amount of water and that’s why we shake the bottle to moisturize the air.
The decrease in Temperature: As pressure decreases, temperature also decreases and that’s the reason behind squeezing and releasing the bottle. Releasing pressure will decrease temperature and thus water vapors will condensate
presence of particulate matter: Tiny water droplets or water vapors in the air need some surface to stick to and that’s why we added smoke into the bottle.
And voila, the combination of supersaturated conditions
and particulate matter creates a cloud.
Fun fact: The Highest clouds formed are mesospheric clouds, blue in color, are formed when water droplets stick to meteoroid dust from space.
Why don’t clouds fall down?
Clouds are formed of gazillion water droplets and we know water is heavy. So, why don’t clouds fall down?
That’s because, in clouds, water droplets are far from each other such that their density is low compared to air near the ground. So, clouds float above them.
Happy cloud making!