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Home Lab

Welcome to the Thames Water Home Lab! Here you’ll find a series of fun, hands-on experiments that can be done with everyday household items.

Try these at home to see how sewage is turned back into safe, clean tap water, how poo can be turned into electricity and exactly what happens to the things you flush down the loo.

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Poo power

Did you know that poo can be used to create electricity? Learn how we turn poo into power, using heat to make biogas. Biogas can be used as a fuel to generate renewable energy, which we then use to run our largest sites.

Before you start, make sure you have:

  • A bottle
  • A balloon
  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Warm water

Have fun carrying out out your own biogas experiment at home, and learn more about how the sewage treatment process works.

The shake test

This Home Lab experiment explores what happens to different items when you flush them down the loo.

You’ll need:

  • A clear plastic bottle, or container with a lid
  • A few items around the home that you think people might try to flush down the loo. At our sewage works we find a lot of wet wipes, cotton buds, dental floss and other plastics.

Look carefully at how each item reacts to the shake test – if it doesn’t break down, it should go in the bin!

Materials that don’t break down can get stuck in drains and sewers, where they create massive blockages called fatbergs. Learn more about what items are safe to flush, and when you should bin it – don’t block it!

Sewage soup

When you flush the toilet or pour water down the sink, what happens next? We take all that dirty water and clean it to make it safe to return to the environment. Putting clean water back into rivers is very important for our environment and the wildlife we share it with. Try our experiment to find out how we take sewage and turn it back into clean water.

For this activity, you’ll need:

  • A container to make your sewage soup in – a measuring jug will do the job
  • Some kitchen ingredients to make your ‘sewage’ – this can include food colouring, chocolate cereal, a bit of toilet paper, etc.
  • A plastic bottle with the top cut off
  • Some materials to make a filter – we used cotton wool, sand, gravel and kitchen roll for our experiment, but try whatever materials you can find at home.

See how your sewage soup changes once it’s passed through the filter. Does it look cleaner?

Learn more about how the water treatment process works. Remember, you should only flush the 3 P’s – Poo, Pee and (toilet) Paper!

Taptastic mathematics

This Home Lab is all about saving water. A dripping tap can waste a surprising amount of water – but how much, exactly?

Learn how to calculate:

  • How much water a dripping tap can waste in 24 hours
  • How much water a running tap can lose in the time it takes to brush your teeth

Once you’ve finished your workings out, try turning your results into a taptastic drawing to share with us. Then learn more about how you can help save water at home with our top water saving tips.

The water cycle

We supply over 2.6 billion litres of water every day. We do this by taking water from natural sources like rivers and then cleaning it to make it safe for us to use.

Once you’ve used the water and drained or flushed it away, we need to clean it again to safely return it to the environment. This process forms part of the water cycle.

This Home Lab experiment will help you make your very own mini water cycle at home. All you’ll need is:

  • A plastic bottle
  • Some water
  • Paper and pens

Try putting the bottle in different areas of your home to see how different temperatures affect the process.