How to Build a Baking Soda Volcano Science Project

Make the Baking Soda Volcano into a Science Project

A baking soda and vinegar volcano is a classic chemistry project.
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The baking soda and vinegar volcano is the kitchen equivalent of a volcano. Obviously, it's not a real volcano. It's cool all the same! The baking soda volcano is also non-toxic, which adds to its appeal. The chemical volcano is a classic science project which can help kids learn about chemical reactions and how volcanoes work. This takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Volcano Science Project Materials

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • warm water
  • plastic soda bottle
  • dishwashing detergent
  • food coloring
  • vinegar
  • baking dish or another pan
  • 2 T baking soda

Make the Chemical Volcano

  1. First, make the 'cone' of the baking soda volcano. Mix 6 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 4 tablespoons cooking oil, and 2 cups of water. The resulting mixture should be smooth and firm (more water may be added if needed).
  2. Stand the soda bottle in the baking pan and mold the dough around it into a volcano shape. Don't cover the hole or drop dough into it.
  3. Fill the bottle most of the way full with warm water and a bit of red food color (can be done before sculpting if you don't take so long that the water gets cold).
  4. Add 6 drops of detergent to the bottle contents. The detergent helps trap the bubbles produced by the reaction so you get better lava.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to the liquid.
  6. Slowly pour vinegar into the bottle. Watch out - eruption time!

    Experiment with the Volcano

    While it's fine for a young investigator to explore a simple model volcano, you'll want to add the scientific method if you want to make the volcano a better science project. Here are ideas for ways to experiment with a baking soda volcano:

    • Make a prediction about what happens if you change the amount of baking soda or vinegar. Record and analyze the effect, if any.
    • Can you think of ways to change the volcano to make the eruption go higher or last longer? This might involve changing the chemicals or the shape of the volcano. It helps to record numerical data, such as the volume of liquid, the height of the "lava", or duration of the eruption.
    • What happens if you substitute other acids instead of vinegar or other bases instead of baking soda? Examples of acids include lemon juice or ketchup. Examples of bases include laundry detergent and household ammonia. Use caution if you substitute chemicals because some mixtures can produce hazardous gasses. Don't experiment with bleach or bathroom cleaners.

    Useful Tips

    1. The cool red lava is the result of a chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar.
    2. In this reaction, carbon dioxide gas is produced, which is also present in real volcanoes.
    3. As the carbon dioxide gas is produced, pressure builds up inside the plastic bottle, until the gas bubbles (thanks to the detergent) out of the 'volcano'.
    4. Adding a bit of food coloring will result in red-orange lava! Orange seems to work the best. Add some red, yellow, and even purple, for a bright display.