How to Make a Volcano Using Pop Rocks

Easy, Two-Ingredient Chemical Volcano, No Baking Soda or Vinegar Required

Pop Rocks Candy
Catherine Bulinkski/Flickr/Attribution 2.0 Generic

The classic homemade chemical volcano relies on a reaction between baking soda and vinegar to produce an eruption of foamy 'lava,' but you can make a volcano even if you don't have these ingredients.

One easy way is to use Pop Rocks candy and carbonated soda. The reaction between these two ingredients gave rise to the false notion that drinking cola and eating Pop Rocks would cause your stomach to explode. It's true the two ingredients combine to produce a lot of gas, but if you eat them, you burp out the bubbles. In a homemade volcano, you can make a cool eruption. Here's what you do:

Pop Rocks Volcano Materials

  • 20-oz bottle of any soda or other carbonate beverage
  • packet of Pop Rocks candy (red or orange colored flavors look most like lava)
  • model volcano

If you don't have a model volcano, you can use homemade dough to form the shape of a volcano around the unopened soda bottle. If you like, paint or decorate the dough so it looks like a volcano.

How To Make the Volcano Erupt

  1. The eruption can be messy, much like the Mentos and soda reaction, so it's a good idea to set up your volcano outdoors, on a kitchen counter, or in a bathtub. Otherwise, place a plastic tablecloth around the volcano to make clean-up easier.
  2. Don't open the soda until you are ready for the eruption. When it's time, carefully uncap the bottle. Disturb it as little as possible, to help prevent gas from escaping.
  3. Pour in the Pop Rocks candies. One way to get all the candy into the volcano at once is to roll up a sheet of paper into a tube. Put your finger on the end of the tube to close it off and pour in the Pop Rocks. Release the candies over the mouth of the bottle. Move away quickly or you'll get sprayed with lava!

How the Volcano Works

Pop Rocks contain pressurized carbon dioxide gas that is trapped inside a candy coating. When you eat them, your saliva dissolves the sugar, releasing the gas. The sudden release of pressure makes the popping and cracking sound since ​the pressure of the gas breaks out of the candy once it gets thin enough.

The volcano works much the same way, except it's the soda that dissolves the candy shell to release the gas. The eruption is made more forceful by the sudden release of carbon dioxide in the soda. The bits of candy provide surface area for the dissolve carbon dioxide in the soda to collect and form bubbles, which push their way out of the narrow mouth of the bottle.

Things To Try

If you want lava that overflows the volcano, try adding a squirt of dishwashing soda to the soda before you add the Pop Rocks. For more colorful lava, add a few drops of red or orange food coloring to the soda or else use a red-colored soda, like Big Red, or a brown soda, like Dr. Pepper or any brand of root beer. Some energy drinks are also lava-colored. At that matters is that the drink is carbonated.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Make a Volcano Using Pop Rocks." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 27). How to Make a Volcano Using Pop Rocks. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Make a Volcano Using Pop Rocks." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 1, 2023).