Science Projects: How To Make A Volcano

Making a mock volcano is easy with basically vinegar and baking soda.

Making a mock volcano is not a difficult task, but is very messy, because this volcano will actually erupt when mixing baking soda and vinegar together. Since this is a messy project, wearing old clothes is necessary as well as working on a pile of old newspapers. Working outside would be even better than working on a pile of newspapers because of the mess the volcano makes, and this is one experiment that does not have to be done inside.

Before beginning this project, reviewing volcanoes would be a good idea. Molten rock, found deep inside the Earth, erupts through a volcano. When this molten rock is still inside the Earth it is called magma, but when it comes out of the volcano it is called lava. In the project that is about to be accomplished, the volcano will erupt with a bubbly, fizzy liquid, created by a simple reaction that occurs when an acid, which is the vinegar, interacts with a base, which is the baking soda. Chemically, carbon dioxide gas is created as a by-product when the acid and base neutralize each other. The reaction looks like this: HC2H3O2 + NaHCO3 = CO2 + NaC2H3O2 + H2O, which is vinegar (acetic acid) + baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) = carbon dioxide gas + sodium acetate + water.

Supplies needed for this project include something to put the volcano in such an old aluminum pie plate or a paper plate, lots of old newspaper, unless working outside and old clothes for the experimenter. Also needed for this project is 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda, ½ cup of vinegar, a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent, a small plastic bottle, such as a soft drink bottle, modeling clay, either hand made or store bought, a funnel, a measuring spoon and measuring cup and red food coloring.

To begin the project, lay out the newspapers under the work area as well as on the table to catch any mess. Next place the plate on the newspapers placed on the table. Now, place the clean, empty soft drink bottle in the plate. The next step is to use the modeling clay and make a volcano around the bottle being careful not to get any clay inside the bottle. Leave the area around the top of the bottle open to allow for the eruption. The volcano can now be decorated if the experimenter so desires.

The next step is to add the ingredients to the bottle using a dry funnel. Put 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda into the bottle; next add a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent and about half a cup of water. In a measuring cup, add a few drops of red food coloring to about half a cup of vinegar.

The eruption is the next step. To accomplish this, add the vinegar and food coloring mixture to the baking soda and dishwashing detergent mixture already in the bottle. Carefully use a funnel and pour the vinegar into the bottle, then quickly remove the funnel. The volcano will erupt immediately.

The eruption, caused when the vinegar reacts with the baking soda creating carbon dioxide gas, forms bubbles with the liquid dishwashing detergent and pushes the mock lava out of the volcano.

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