Fizzles, Explosions, and Eruptions: Simple Science Experiments Gone Mad
Mad Science Experiment
Erupting volcanoes and bubbling test tubes are fun to watch but they are even more fun to make. Creating strange mad scientist concoctions is simpler than you may think. Most of the materials needed are simple household ingredients found in most kitchens. When the ingredients are combined, they react in spectacular ways. Read below to find out how to make Mentos geysers, homemade volcanoes, and bubbling, fizzing, and foggy mad science experiments.
Mentos and Diet Coke Explosion on Mythbusters
Mentos Soda Geyser
2-liter bottle of soda (Any will work, but diet is less sticky and causes the highest geyser)
Pack of regular Mentos candies
Piece of paper or Geyser tube (pictured at right)
Want to see a bottle of soda erupt like a geyser? This experiment is very simple to do. But it can also be very messy, so it is best to try it outside and away from anything the soda could damage. Place the 2-liter bottle on a flat surface such as a table or a driveway. Open the bottle. Follow the directions for either the paper or the geyser tube. Geyser tubes make the experiment easier, but they aren’t necessary.
Directions for using a piece of paper
Roll up the piece of paper and stick one end of it in the opening of the bottle. Get about 5-7 pieces of Mentos out of the package. Carefully drop them into the bottle using the piece of paper as a funnel. Once the candy is in the bottle, quickly step back and watch the eruption.
Alternative directions for using a geyser tube
Twist the geyser tube onto the top of the bottle. Make sure the pin with the string is in place. Place 5-7 pieces of candy in the tube. Pull the string and quickly step back. Be careful not to jerk the string or you might knock the bottle over and produce a horizontal geyser instead of a vertical one.
Expand on the experiment by testing different types of sodas to see which produce the highest geysers. Yard sticks can be used to measure how high the geyser goes. You can also test different types of candy. Does any other candy have the same effect as Mentos?
For an explanation of why the geyser is produced, check out this article.
Bubbling Concoction: Baking Soda and Vinegar
Cup or container
To create a bubbling concoction, mix baking soda and vinegar together. First, you will want to put newspaper underneath the area where you will do the experiment. Then put 2-3 spoonfuls of baking soda into your container. To make the experiment look more like something from a spooky laboratory, use a test tube or beaker as your container. A measuring cup will also give it a mad scientist feel.
Slowly pour a few ounces of vinegar over the baking soda. The baking soda and vinegar will begin to reaction and cause froth that will start pouring over the side of the container. When the reaction starts to slow, use a spoon to mix the baking soda into the vinegar. A few more spoonfuls of baking soda and a couple more ounces of vinegar can be added to keep the reaction bubbling.
Mad Science Poll
Mad science is:
- 71% Cool
- 6% Creepy
- 5% Weird
- 18% Boring
Clay or plaster to shape the volcano
(Mixture of 6 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, 2 cups of water, and 4 tablespoons of oil can be substituted instead of clay)
Brown paint (Optional)
Plastic cup or empty drink bottle
Deep baking pan
Liquid dish soap
Red food coloring
To create a volcano, you will first need to shape the volcano. There are several methods for creating the volcano cone. You can use clay, plaster, playdough, wet sand, or even a dirt mound. You can also use a flour and water mixture to form the volcano as well.
Mix 6 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, 2 cups of warm water, and about 4 tablespoons of oil in a large bowl using your hands. Knead until the mixture is smooth and has a firm, rubbery feel. In a deep baking pan, shape the mixture into a volcano cone. Put the cup or bottle into the center and form the dough around it to hide the cup. If you want to paint the volcano to make it look realistic, you will have to bake the dough. Remove the cup or bottle before baking. Bake on 300o for about 30 minutes to an hour or until the surface is hard. Remove the volcano from the oven and allow it to cool thoroughly before painting it. Replace the cup or bottle when you are ready to erupt the volcano. You do not need to bake the volcano flour mixture if you do not want to paint it.
Clay and Other Materials Method
In a deep baking pan form the clay or other material into a volcano shape. Place the cup or bottle in the center and shape the material around it to disguise the cup. Add details like trenches to make it look more realistic. Clay and plaster can be painted brown also.
In a small bowl, mix about ½ a cup of water, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of food coloring. Red food coloring can be used. Yellow and orange can also be mixed with the red to give the lava a more fire-like look. Add about a spoonful of liquid dish soap to the mixture being careful not to stir it to much and create bubbles. The dish soap makes the mixture look more like lava flowing.
Put newspaper underneath the volcano base to catch any lava that spills over the side. Pour the mixture into the cup in the top of the volcano. Now you are ready for the eruption. Slowly pour about 2 ounces of vinegar into the top of the volcano. The lava will begin to flow. Whenever the reaction slows, add a bit more vinegar into the top of the volcano. To keep the eruption going you will eventually have to add more baking soda as well .
How to Make a Volcano
Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
Fizzles: Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
Lemon juice (concentrate)
To make fizz, mix baking soda with lemon juice. Spread newspaper under the container to soak up any mess. Put a few spoonfuls of baking soda into a container. Mix in a few ounces of water. Add about a spoonful of lemon juice to make a fizzy brew. You can also add vinegar for an even bigger chemical reaction.
For a fizzy lemon flavored drink, leave out the vinegar and mix in some sugar.
To keep the reaction happening, keep adding more lemon juice and mixing in a spoonful of baking soda at a time.
Foggy: Dry Ice
Add a spooky fogging effect to your mad science experiments by adding a piece of dry ice. Along with the bubbling and fizz, a creep fog will roll over the edge of the test tube.
For more information about dry ice, check out these hubs:
Dry Ice Fun
- Dry Ice Experiments: Cool Science Projects with Dry Ice
Dry ice can be a fun substance to use in experiments. Make foggy bubbles, screaming metal, frost things over, pop the caps off containers, make a fire extinguisher, blow up a balloon, and do more with dry ice.
- Using Dry Ice
Dry Ice is the frozen form of carbon dioxide (CO2). Though safe, dry ice must be handled properly. Dry ice can be used for special effects such as fog, science experiments, for cooling and freezing, and carbonation among other uses.