A baking soda volcano is one of the best ways to examine what happens when chemicals interact with one another. It takes about 30 minutes to set up and is exciting for kids and adults of all ages.
In order to build a volcano you will need several everyday household items. An average size volcano requires six cups of flour, two cups of salt, a cup of vinegar, two tablespoons of baking soda, four tablespoons of cooking oil, dishwashing detergent, a baking dish, warm water, food coloring, and a plastic two liter soda bottle.
Build the Volcano
Your first step is to create the actual volcano. Mix the flour, salt, cooking oil, and two cups of water. This creates smooth, firm, clay-like dough that can be shaped into a volcano shape. You can add additional water or flour to create the right consistency if necessary. Stand the empty soda bottle in the baking pan and mold the dough around the bottle. When building the dough around the bottle, be sure to leave the bottle’s hole open.
Once the dough dries, fill the bottle with warm water. Add food coloring to the water so it looks like lava. Add six drops of detergent to the water, which traps the bubbles and produces a more lava-like substance. When you are ready to cause the volcanic eruption, move the volcano outside. Add the two tablespoons of baking soda to the bottle and then slowly pour the vinegar into the bottle. The addition of the vinegar will cause the eruption.
How It Works
The reaction is caused by the mixture of the vinegar and baking soda, but the water creates the flowing lava. The mixture leads to the production of carbon dioxide, which is also plays a role in the explosion of real volcanoes. The carbon dioxide creates pressure in the bottle (the volcanic mountain) and the gas eventually bubbles. You can also add yellow and orange food coloring to recreate the look of lava. Experiment with different colors in water until you find the right balance.
This experiment is great for teaching kids about chemical reactions or volcanoes. Before creating the volcano and causing the eruption, have children research volcanoes around the world. You can discuss where you live in comparison to active and inactive volcanoes and discuss the effects of a reaction. If you live in an area that is close to a volcano, include a visit to the area as part of your lesson.
The experimental volcano will help children see how dangerous it can be when you are close to an erupting volcano. If your child has concerns about their safety, be sure to discuss the fact that scientists are able to predict when a volcano is going to erupt. Compare the reaction of the baking soda and vinegar leading up to the imitation lava flowing so kids understand there are plenty of warning sings prior to a volcano becoming dangerous. The combination of the model volcano and the information about volcanoes is a great learning experience for kids of all ages.