The YouTuber behind the viral, jaw-dropping foam explosion explains the clean-up process and why he's hoping for a 'foam arms race'

Business Insider US
A nearly fully-expanded elephant toothpaste experiment performed by Nick Uhas and David Dobrik.

  • After his gargantuan, record-breaking elephant toothpaste experiment in David Dobrik's backyard shot to viral fame, science YouTuber Nick Uhas told Insider what it was like to clean up the aftermath.
  • Uhas said he and Dobrik decided to triple the size of their previous attempt, which became the most viral TikTok of 2019, to secure their title ahead of fellow YouTuber Mark Rober's experiment.
  • The two are "kind of hoping it turns into a little bit of a foam arms race," but a contender hasn't arrived - yet. In the meantime, Uhas is planning more practical science collaborations for 2020.
  • Uhas also confirmed that the jaw-dropping foam volcano was environmentally friendly, and that the team recycled the plastic wrap they laid down afterward. Dobrik's house, however, is still stained.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Surprisingly, the neighbours didn't seem to notice when science YouTuber Nick Uhas exploded a massive blue foam volcano in David Dobrik's backyard.

"Every time I pull into David's house, I swear by happenstance the neighbour is pulling out and is always waving and smiling, so I feel like we're off to a good start," Uhas told Insider. "The thing that I was actually most surprised about is we did not get a phone call."

The world record-breaking elephant toothpaste experiment that Uhas uploaded on Thursday has millions of views across platforms, but it hasn't elicited a response from either the neighbourhood or the pair's competition - yet.

Uhas and Dobrik first tried the experiment earlier this year, and the resulting TikTok took off, becoming the most viral clip on the short video-sharing platform of 2019. It was an attempt to dethrone YouTuber Mark Rober, who filled a swimming pool with multi-colored foam earlier this year.

But there was some contention over whether the pair's red foam attempt actually produced more cubic meters of foam than Rober's. So Uhas and Dobrik redid the stunt with three times the ingredients, and the resulting mass of foam toppled over Dobrik's backyard balcony and rose above the roof of his California home.

"We're kind of hoping it turns into a little bit of a foam arms race but we don't know, nothing has happened so far," Uhas, who has performed the experiment hundreds of times over the course of his career, said.

Some viewers wondered whether the experiment was wasteful, so Uhas clarified that it was environmentally sound

The video ends with Uhas and Dobrik celebrating their gargantuan foam pay-off. But how did they clean it up? Well, Uhas told Insider that the reaction is "self-cleaning."

"The foam bubbles start to pop, and what happens is the oxygen is released back into the air," he said. "You end up with soapy water that's on the plastic wrap. They get towels, they sop up the soapy water that has the potassium iodide in it, that gets washed - and that's all drain safe - and then we recycle the plastic."

The only thing that's difficult to clean up? The blue-ish green color that covered Dobrik's white couch, along with the plaster on the outside of his house that the foam touched. The iodine that gets created in the chemical reaction makes for a pervasive stain, which Dobrik is well aware of, because it stained the ceiling inside his house.

"We did this inside once," Uhas said. "They repainted it something like eight or nine times and it kept bleeding through the paint. What happens is the iodine just keeps seeping through the paint. That's where I throw my hands up and go 'I don't know dude, I'm the chemistry guy, not the paint guy.'"

Uhas uploaded a time-lapse of the clean-up job to his Instagram, but as far as he's aware, Dobrik's house still has a "minimal paint job" from the iodine stain.

Now that Uhas' part in the experiment has concluded, he's looking forward to his next projects. As the host of Netflix's "Blown Away," a glassblowing competition show, he'll be filming season 2 early next year. He's also gotten a lot of other YouTubers interested in practical science videos, and has collaborations planned throughout 2020.

"I thought it would do well, but I didn't think it would do this well," Uhas said. "Some people were like 'This is CGI' and I was like 'Wow, we created something so impressive that people literally think it's computer generated.' That's kind of awesome."

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