Guest Post: Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano

What a special treat! A second guest post this week for all of you fabulous readers. This one is from Liz Cherchia. Liz has a TOTALLY AWESOME science experiment post for us today, showing you how to make your own baking soda and vinegar VOLCANO! See. Totally awesome!

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Simple, at home science experiments are a fun and interactive way to bond and learn some basic science with your children. The experience will be valuable for even the youngest children – research shows that young children naturally approach the world in an inquisitive, experimental way that closely resembles the scientific method used by scientists. Science experiments don’t just teach science; they foster curiosity about what makes things work, instill a love of building and discovering, inspire children to always ask questions, and are a lot of fun! Experimenting with your children is a great way to get off the couch, build something amazing, and spend time together as a family.

To help you do this, we’ve put together all the instructions, including a list of materials, directions, and all the science background you’ll need to explain the experiment – so don’t worry if you’re not an expert!

This one is a classic – the baking soda and vinegar volcano. This fun, messy experiment is a science-fair favorite. It’s easy and inexpensive to create. You don’t need a volcano to try this experiment – but it does make for a nice presentation, and is a great way to add a little art and creativity to your science project! If you don’t have time to make the volcano, you can perform the experiment in a bowl or basin.

We made a paper-mache volcano for our experiment. It takes a bit of time, but it’s easy and looks impressive. You can, too!

To make the volcano, you need the following:
● Newspaper
● Cardboard
● Tape
● White glue
● Water
● Paint (any water-based paint is fine, and if kids are helping, make sure it’s child-safe! We used white, brown, green, yellow, and black)

For the experiment, you will need the following:
● Baking soda
● Vinegar
● Food coloring
● Dish soap

Making the Volcano
Using the cardboard and tape, make a frame for your volcano, kind of like this one:
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It doesn’t matter if it looks a bit messy (like mine) – it’s going to be covered in paper mache! Just think of it as the skeleton of your volcano. I also used a flat square of cardboard as the base.

Next, tear the newspaper into strips (around 1” wide and 8-12” long). Paper mache works much better when you tear the newspaper – the edges blend in better.
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Mix two parts glue to one part water (or, if your glue is very thick, you can use a ratio closer to 1:1).

Paint strips of newspaper onto the volcano skeleton. After 4 or 5 layers of newspaper, let the volcano dry completely. Repeat until you’re satisfied with how the volcano looks.
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Now it’s time to paint! Paint your volcano however you like. I started with a layer of white, then a layer of brown for the mountain and green for the base. Then, I used a sponge to make yellow accents on the base and black on the mountain. You can also use a bit of white to make a snow-capped mountain!

Here is the finished product:
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Let dry completely. If you like, paint with a clear lacquer to preserve it during the eruption! We didn’t, and the volcano survived – it’s a bit stained though, and needed a weekend to dry.

Now, eruption time!

This is what you do:

Step 1: Place cup firmly into mouth of volcano. We don’t want any leaks!
Step 2: Add 3-4 drops of food coloring (any color you want – try mixing to make new colors!) and 4-5 tablespoons vinegar into the cup (make sure this is fairly close to the brim of your cup)
Step 3: Add a squirt of dish soap (this is optional, but it makes more bubbles!).
Step 4: Add 3-4 heaping spoonfuls of baking soda and stand back – it’s eruption time!

Tip: Make sure the cup you want to use to hold the chemical reaction fits in the mouth of the volcano! It’s ok to cut a cup or a bottle to make it smaller – you don’t need a very large container!

You can keep adding more vinegar and baking soda to keep the eruption going for as long as you want!

The Science Behind the Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano – Explained!

The baking soda and vinegar volcano works because of a simple acid-base chemical reaction.

What are acids and bases?

Acids have a sour taste, can turn blue litmus red, and react with bases to form salts. We eat a lot of acidic foods! Can you name any acids that might be in your kitchen right now? Hint: think about fruits! Tomatoes, oranges, lemons, and limes are all acids.

Bases are slippery to the touch, taste bitter, and turn red litmus blue!

Acids and bases are opposites – when you mix them, you form water (which is neutral – not an acid or a base!) and salt.

Vinegar is a weak acid called acetic acid.

Baking soda is a base called sodium bicarbonate.

The Chemical Reaction

acetic acid (vinegar/acid) + sodium bicarbonate (baking soda/base) = carbon dioxide (bubbles) + water + sodium ion (salt) + acetate ion (salt)

The carbon dioxide that forms during this chemical reaction is what makes the ‘eruption’ bubble and fizz! The dish soap just helps make more bubbles.

And that’s all there is to it!

Did you perform this experiment at home? We’d love to hear how it went!

lizcherchia Guest Post: Baking Soda and Vinegar VolcanoLiz Cherchia
I am an engineer/science enthusiast based in Shanghai, China. I’m part of the team behind Piiig, a digital lab that makes child-friendly apps that combine education and game elements to create a fun and engaging learning experience. I care about helping parents and kids engage in science by building and experimenting together. For more information, and a free printable guide with easy, DIY science experiments, check out www.piiig.com.
Connect with Liz & Piiig on Facebook and Twitter
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Comments

  1. I remember doing this experiment as a kid, I can’t wait to do it with my daughter! She will love it, she loves science and anything messy, hahah.

  2. Super cool!
    :-)
    Traci

  3. My kids love doing volcanos like this, but we usually do it in a tube. I love this tutorial for making a volcano out of newspaper. Thank you for sharing!

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