Volcano Experiment

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Volcano Experiment

This is the classic volcano experiment with lots of neat science in it. Your kids will positively ‘explode’ with excitement!

What You Will Need

– 12 oz water bottle
– 8 oz (1 cup) of very warm water
– ¼ cup vinegar
– 2 tablespoons of baking soda
– red food coloring
– funnel
– paper mache volcano (optional)

What You Will Do

First, if you’d like it to actually look like a volcano, you’ll have to make a paper mache one like in this video.

Once you’re got your cinder cone, you’re ready to begin.

Please note: this can get messy, so prepare for it. Go outside or put lots of newspapers down on your workspace!

Take your bottle and fill it ⅔ or so with the warm water. Add the baking soda and red food coloring to desired color level. Re-cap the bottle and shake it to mix everything together thoroughly. Or, if you built the bottle into your volcano, you can use the funnel and a straw to mix everything together.

Take the cap off again and place the bottle in the volcano if necessary. Put the funnel into the top of the bottle and pour the vinegar in quickly. Remove the funnel and get out of the way. BOOM!

What is Going On?

This is a great chemistry lesson. You’re mixing an acid and a base which in this case rapidly produces a gas. This gas frothing out of the mixture is what produces the “lava.” This is what is going on:

baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) + vinegar (acetic acid) -> sodium acetate + carbonic acid -> carbon dioxide + water + sodium acetate

The “lava explosion” is pretty neat. Cap it off by noting that they are breathing out the same gas that causes this to happen!

Want a kit that makes this even easier? Get it here:

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Oliver Gauss
Oliver has a degree in physics and mathematics and has completed all but his dissertation for a Ph.D. in Physics. He believes actual science should decide scientific disagreements, and that most people who use "science" to defend their emotion-based opinions have no idea what science actually is. Oliver is the editor of WeWantScience.com and has two new sites coming out soon. Stay tuned!