Take Your Volcano Science Project to the Next Level

01
of 11

No More Boring Volcano Science Projects!

The regular baking soda and vinegar volcano is fun, but you can make the science project more exciting by changing the materials.
The regular baking soda and vinegar volcano is fun, but you can make the science project more exciting by changing the materials. Steve Goodwin / Getty Images

The classic baking soda and vinegar volcano science project is fun, but you can make the eruption more interesting or realistic. Here is a collection of ideas of ways to take the volcanic eruption to the next level. 

02
of 11

Make a Smoking Volcano

Making smoke puff out of a model volcano is as simple as adding a chunk of dry ice.
Making smoke puff out of a model volcano is as simple as adding a chunk of dry ice. Getty Images

One of the simplest additions to a model volcano is smoke. If you add a chunk of dry ice to any liquid mixture, the solid carbon dioxide will sublimate into a chilly gas that will condense water in the air to produce fog. 

03
of 11

Glowing Lava Volcano

Substituting tonic water for water or another liquid in a science project will make it glow blue under a black light.
Substituting tonic water for water or another liquid in a science project will make it glow blue under a black light. Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Use tonic water instead of vinegar in the baking soda volcano, or mix equal parts vinegar and tonic water to make lava that will glow blue under a black light. Tonic water contains the chemical quinine, which is fluorescent. Another simple option is to mold a volcano shape around a bottle of tonic water and drop Mentos candies into the bottle to start the eruption.

For glowing red lava, mix chlorophyll together with vinegar and react the mixture with baking soda. Chlorophyll glows red when exposed to ultraviolet light.

04
of 11

Make a Vesuvius Fire Volcano

Vesuvius Fire is a chemical reaction that truly resembles a real volcanic eruption.
Vesuvius Fire is a chemical reaction that truly resembles a real volcanic eruption. George Shelley / Getty Images

A more advanced volcano, suitable for a chemistry demonstration, is Vesuvius fire. This volcano results from combustion of ammonium dichromate to produce sparks, smoke, and a glowing cinder cone of ash. Of all the chemical volcanoes, this one looks the most realistic.

05
of 11

Make a Smoke Bomb Volcano

A wrapped smoke bomb forms a volcano of purple sparks.
A wrapped smoke bomb forms a volcano of purple sparks. Srividya Vanamamalai / EyeEm / Getty Images

Another advanced volcano science project is a smoke bomb volcano, which produces a fountain of purple sparks. This volcano is formed by wrapping a smoke bomb in a paper cone, to direct the eruption upward. It's a simple project, but meant for outdoors. 

06
of 11

Lemon Juice and Baking Soda Volcano

You can react lemon juice and baking soda to make a safe, lemon-scented chemical volcano.
You can react lemon juice and baking soda to make a safe, lemon-scented chemical volcano. bonnie jacobs / Getty Images

Baking soda reacts with any acid to produce simulated lava -- it doesn't need to be acetic acid from vinegar. Mix together lemon juice, a few drops of detergent, and a bit of food coloring to make the lava. Start the eruption by spooning in baking soda. The lemon volcano is safe and smells like lemons!

07
of 11

Color Changing Lava Volcano

Use an acid-base indicator to make the lava of your chemical volcano change colors as it erupts.
Use an acid-base indicator to make the lava of your chemical volcano change colors as it erupts. Marilyn Nieves, Getty Images

It's easy to color the lava of a chemical volcano with food coloring or soft drink mix, but wouldn't it be cooler if the lava could change colors as the volcano erupts? You can apply a bit of acid-base chemistry to achieve this special effect. 

08
of 11

Realistic Wax Volcano

This model volcano illustrates the processes that occur in real volcanoes.
This wax model volcano illustrates the processes that occur in real volcanoes. Anne Helmenstine

Most chemical volcanoes react chemicals to produce gases that get trapped by detergent to form foamy lava. The wax volcano is different because it works like a real volcano. Heat melts wax until it presses against sand, forming a cone and finally an eruption.

09
of 11

Yeast and Peroxide Volcano

A yeast and peroxide volcano erupts longer than the baking soda and vinegar version.
A yeast and peroxide volcano erupts longer than the baking soda and vinegar version. Nicholas Prior / Getty Images

One disadvantage of the baking soda and vinegar volcano is that it erupts instantly. You can recharge it by adding more baking soda and vinegar, but this can run you out of supplies quickly. An alternative is to mix yeast and peroxide to cause an eruption. This reaction proceeds more slowly, so you have time to appreciate the show. It's easy to color the lava, too, which is a nice plus.

10
of 11

Erupt a Ketchup Volcano

If you use ketchup for a volcano instead of vinegar, you get natural, thick red lava.
If you use ketchup for a volcano instead of vinegar, you get natural, thick red lava. Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Another way to get a slower, more realistic eruption is to react baking soda and ketchup. Ketchup is an acidic ingredient, so it reacts with baking soda to produce carbon dioxide gas, just like vinegar or lemon juice. The difference is that it's thicker and natural lava-colored. The eruption burps and spits and releases an odor that may make you crave french fries. (Tip: Adding baking soda to a ketchup bottle also makes for a messy prank.)

11
of 11

More Ideas to Make Your Volcano Special

Presentation matters. Take the time to make and decorate your volcano.
Presentation matters. Take the time to make and decorate your volcano. Fuse / Getty Images

 There's more you can do to make your volcano the best it can be. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Mix phosphorescent pigment in with the lava ingredients to make a volcano that truly glows in the dark. Another option is to paint the rim of the volcano with glow in the dark paint.
  • Add glitter to the lava for a sparkle effect.
  • You don't have to make the volcano out of paper mache or clay. If it's winter, take the project outside and perform the eruption in the snow. Mold snow around a bottle to keep your ingredients separate and make clean-up easier.
  • Make the effort to shape and decorate the volcano. Technically, all you need is a glass or bottle to make an eruption, but how boring is that? Paint the cinder cone. Consider adding trees and plastic animals. Have fun with it!