How to simulate a volcanic eruption with an acid and a base
When a liquid acid is mixed with a solid carbonate base such as powdered bicarbonate of soda, carbon dioxide gas is produced.
The resulting mix is a gas plus a liquid instead of a liquid plus a solid, which takes up more space.
If a flask is used to simulate the magma chamber of a cone type volcano, the gas-liquid mix will rise up dramatically to create a simulated eruption. Adding red food dye to the mix completes the illusion.
Get the ingredients together
Fill the flask a quarter full of water. Add red food coloring and swirl to mix. Next add acid to raise the level to half full. Set the flask in a flat container such as a baking dish to catch the overflow.
Add the acid
Any acid will work. In the school laboratory, weak hydrochloric acid is a good choice. In the kitchen, cheap vinegar is an excellent choice because it is safe and easy to use.
Add the bicarbonate of soda and stand back
The addition of a bicarbonate base starts the reaction. The base reacts with the acid to form a salt, water and carbon dioxide gas.
acid + carbonate base —> water + salt + carbon dioxide
The carbon dioxide and liquid mix move up the flask like molten magma up the magma tube to the top of the volcano.
The result is a beautiful eruption.
Clean up the mess
You will be grateful that you used a dish when you clean up the mess.
Food coloring is mildly staining but bleach will remove it.
by: Theodore E. Brown John H. Nelson Kenneth C. Kemp Matthew Stoltzfus
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