Making a volcano out of a soda bottle is a very common science experiment in school settings - as well as being the perfect excuse to cause a really fun fake lava explosion. There are several ways to mix materials in this process. This article brings two of the most classic: with soda and Mentos candy (which can produce eruptions of up to 5 m) and baking soda and vinegar. Finally, gather or buy all the necessary ingredients to have a lot of fun in your backyard!
Method 1 of 3: Creating the Volcano
Step 1. Find a base for the volcano
You can use a plastic cutting board, a piece of wood, or any other sturdy, smooth surface. Avoid using cardboard as it will not be strong enough to support the project.
If you are working with leftover materials, decorate the base to make it more beautiful and suitable. You can paint it, cover it with moss, apply green felt to simulate grass, glue miniature trees, and so on
Step 2. Attach an open 2-liter soda bottle to the base
Put it right in the center to build the volcano later. How you attach it depends on the type of material you're using: if it's a cutting board, put some clay or modeling clay on it, then place the container right on top; if it is a piece of wood, use a plastic/wood adhesive.
- Use some orange soda to simulate the color of lava when the volcano erupts. Don't buy anything transparent like Sprite. Also, light and diet sodas work best, but you can also use regular ones.
- If you are going to glue the bottle onto the base, let it stay at room temperature. It won't stick well if it's wet. Avoid using hot glue, which can end up melting the plastic and ruining the project.
- If you're making a volcano with vinegar and baking soda, also attach an empty bottle to the base.
Step 3. Make the volcano around the base
If you want something more textured, wrap the bottle with a small screen to form a cone. Then cover it with papier mache (or, if you prefer, do everything with clay). Finally, to make the project more solid, shape a clay of the appropriate color around the bottle.
Don't cover the bottle cap, or you won't be able to activate the volcano. Leave an opening handy to add the Mentos candy or baking soda
Step 4. Paint the volcano
After the papier mache is dry, paint it with acrylic paint. In addition to making the project more beautiful, this layer will also help to seal the surface and protect it from moisture. Use shades of brown and orange on top and add a little green to simulate grass.
You can even use pebbles, earth and moss to give the foundation a more natural look
Method 2 of 3: Using Mentos Bullets
Step 1. Gather or buy the necessary materials
To make this type of volcano, you'll need a 2-liter soda bottle, a pack of Mint Mentos, and a spacious, open area. Light and diet sodas are more effective than usual, in addition to being less sticky; if you want to simulate the color of lava, use something orange, not transparent.
Experience this in an open environment. However, if you have to do it indoors, protect the floor with a large tarp
Step 2. Place the volcano in a spacious outdoor area and open the soda bottle
Try not to experiment indoors, or you'll leave a mess. Also, opt for an open, unroofed location as the fake lava jet can go quite high. Take the cap off the bottle.
Ask spectators to stand back
Step 3. Prepare to drop all Mentos bullets into the volcano
When the bullets come into contact with the soda, the reaction will be instantaneous - and the carbon dioxide will repel the liquid from the bottle. The more of them you use, the bigger the rash will be; however, this process can be delicate. There are a few different methods:
- Method 1: Roll a sheet of paper to form a tube the size of the tip of the bottle. Then place a thin plate on top of the lid - with the tube right on top. Fill it with bullets. When you're ready to erupt, take off the plate so that the Mentos fall into the bottle.
- Method 2: Secure all Mentos with a piece of duct tape. When it's time, drop the package directly into the mouth of the bottle.
- Method 3: Put a funnel in the mouth of the bottle. It should have a mouth wide enough for Mentos to pass through, but small enough to fit the beak of the vessel. Then drop the bullets through the accessory and take it out when they fall into the liquid.
Step 4. Drop the Mentos bullets into the bottle and run
It's hard to release all the bullets at once. If you get it wrong, the volcano's eruption will be very weak. Practice the movement a few times before the experience itself. When it's time, release them and run a few meters to see what happens!
- If using the paper tube method, remove the plate holding the Mentos so that they fall into the bottle (one at a time).
- If using the tape method, simply drop the package of candies into the mouth of the bottle.
- If using the funnel method, drop all the bullets into the accessory at the same time and take it out of the mouth of the bottle. Finally, back off.
Method 3 of 3: Using Baking Soda and Vinegar
Step 1. Gather or buy the necessary materials
For this volcano project, you will need 400ml of vinegar, 200ml of water, some dishwashing detergent, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, an empty 2-liter soda bottle, and a red food coloring.
- Do some tests until you reach the ideal amount of each material to get the size of the eruption right.
- You can use a smaller plastic bottle as long as you adjust the amounts of ingredients.
Step 2. Mix the vinegar, water and detergent
Use red wine vinegar to simulate the color of lava. If you prefer, add a little red or orange dye to white vinegar. Detergent breaks the surface tension of the water and thus generates the strong eruption.
Step 3. Place the volcano on a table covered with plastic or a linoleum surface
This method isn't as laborious as the previous one, but you'd better be on your guard so you don't have to clean surfaces when you're done.
If the weather is clear, put the volcano outdoors
Step 4. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the mixture
The baking soda will react with the vinegar mixture and cause the rash! If you want a bigger reaction, increase the amount of vinegar and bicarbonate.
- Don't worry if you drink soda and then chew a Mentos candy. Acids in the mouth and stomach prevent the products from reacting in the body.
- Do not use 1 or 3 liter bottles, as the ratio of volume and ingredients is disproportionate. If you insist on something like 3 liters, the rash will only reach about 15 cm; if you insist on 1, it will only create foam.
- Move away from the area near the volcano. She's going to be pretty dirty.