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Homemade Volcano Science Project

Yash Gode Oct 8, 2018
Chemistry projects often demand a homemade volcano model demonstrating an eruption. Let us see the procedure to make a volcano for your school project.
Imagine the sight of a mammoth mountain churning red hot magma and ash, and the oozing lava incinerating everything that comes in its way. The view can be bloodcurdling for some, while captivating for others.
And for better understanding and building curiosity about the eruption of volcanoes, schools across the globe have adopted this very common assignment for students. Homemade volcano science project is a task assigned to students to simulate the eruption of a volcano.
Such a project is generally a spot of attraction if installed at a science fair. It is easy and fun to build, and a great way to learn geography and chemistry at the same time. However, the project should be under the strict supervision of an adult.

How to Make a Volcano at Home

To make volcanoes, we need some very basic, easily available, household stuff. Before we start the fireworks, we first need to start by building our 'Mt. Vesuvius'. Using some basic materials, let us see the procedure for building an easy volcano.

Make the Mountain

The volcanic mountain can be made of either flour, paper mache, clay, or plaster. If using flour for making the dough, take 6 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, and 2 tbs of cooking oil. Take the help of an adult or a carpenter, if using plaster.
Paper mache would be the least advisable material, as it requires a skillful person with a great deal of expertise in using mache craft. Clay is the most convenient material to use for this purpose.
Sculpt the dough in the shape of a conical mountain, and keep a crater like opening instead of a pointer peak, resembling an actual volcano. You can add some color to the flour, while making the dough. Red or brown would match the color of a real mountain.

The Crater

For this, you need an empty soda or a beer can. Remove one of the circular face so that you're left with a tin cylinder with only one of its bases. Now, force this cylindrical can into the crater on top of the dough mountain, ensuring that the open base of the can is facing the top, and that you can see the inside of the can.
Try to adjust dough around the mouth of the can so that the opening resembles the crater of an actual volcano. Just ensure that the cover of the can remains open.

The Main Ingredient

Provided below are the ingredients for making a fake lava; most of them are readily available at home:
  • Baking soda
  • Soap or detergent
  • Artificial color - red and yellow.
  • Vinegar
Here are the steps you need to take using these ingredients, to enact a volcanic eruption:

Prepare a cup full of soap water, and add red and yellow color to it. Add a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda in the soap solution.
Take some vinegar in a cup or a bottle. Slowly and steadily, trickle it into the can filled with soap water and baking soda. Keep safe distance as the reaction causes the 'eruption' to materialize. Flowing and oozing of red-yellow soapy water provides a look similar to the flow of lava in an actual eruption.

What Really Happens?

While doing the science project, you are supposed to know the model end to end. The basics of this experiment lie in the chemical reactions taking place when the vinegar is added. Impress your chemistry staff by exhibiting what really happens behind the curtain.
Chemically, baking soda is known as sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Vinegar is also known as acetic acid (CH3COOH). Both these constituents primarily react with each other to form Sodium Acetate (NaCH3COO) which eventually gives the desired effect. Here's a chemical equation demonstrating how it happens.

Adjusting the amount of baking soda and vinegar will help you to control the fierceness of the reaction. As this experiment is messy in nature, choose a proper place to perform it, especially where you don't mind untidiness.
This project will surely help you to enhance your curiosity and knowledge of volcanic eruptions, and also to solve the main aim of understanding an acid-base reaction.