How to Make a Clay Volcano

Two Parts:Making the ClayForming the Volcano

Do you have to make a model of a volcano for school, a science fair, or just for fun? Well, it's easy and cheap. Just look here and you'll have an awesome volcano!

Part 1
Making the Clay

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    Round up the ingredients for the volcano from the kitchen. You'll be making a simple dough, much like Play-Doh. You'll need:
    • 6 cups of flour
    • 2 cups of water
    • 4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
    • 2 Cups of Salt
    • An old plastic water bottle, cut in half.
    • Food Coloring (optional)
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    Pour the salt, flour, and oil into the mixing bowl. Through all of the ingredients into the same bowl so that you can mix them up. It can help to pre-sift the flour with a whisk, sift, or fork to get break up big chunks.
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    Pour the water into a large mixing bowl, adding 2-3 drops of food coloring if wanted. Adding the food coloring to the water will help it distribute evenly, meaning your whole volcano will be the same color, not streaky.
    • If you don't want to add food color, you can paint the volcano with acrylic poster colors after setting up the clay.
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    Mix and kneed the ingredients with your hands. Mix and then knead until a dough is formed. Get squishy, molding and mixing until you have a bit yellow ball of dough. You can use a rubber spatula to help get it off the sides of the bowl, but use your hands to form a nice, consistent ball.Make sure the clay is neither too watery nor too dry. It should be in a format which allows us to shape it.
    • If the dough is dry as you work, add a tablespoon or so of water.
    • If it is wet, through in a little more flour.
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    Let the dough dry for 1-2 hours before shaping. You want it to be wet enough to work with, but not so dry that it crumbles or falls apart. You can always add a touch more water if need be, but try to be sparing.

Part 2
Forming the Volcano

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    Create a protective surface. Lay down a sheet of wax paper, a thick layer of newspaper, or a box or tray which you can line with tinfoil.
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    Get your lava container. This container will be the center of your volcano. You can use lots of different containers like soda cans, mason jars, plastic bottles, and so on.
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    Shape your clay. Starting from the bottom and working your way up, place your clay around the volcano to form the outside. Try to make it lumpy and uneven, since volcanoes rarely look like perfect cones!
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    Allow the volcano to dry overnight, or cook it for one hour at 225F. Shape your volcano first and then let the dough set. As this is technically playdough (rather than clay), you will want to let it set for about 24 hrs to get dry and hard before completing your project. If you're in a hurry, put it in the oven for about an hour on low heat to dry it out quicker.
    • Do not forget to paint your volcano when done![1]
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    Put the baking soda in the volcano.
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    Prepare some vinegar. Add red food coloring to the vinegar. Mix in a tablespoon of dish washing soap to add an extra bubbly final effect!
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    Add the vinegar mixture into the container. Using a funnel might make this easier.
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    Run away! The toilet paper will dissolve, exposing the baking soda to the vinegar. This will cause the volcano to erupt!


  • Make sure no one else is doing the same idea as you.
  • Another way is fold a piece of cardboard into a cone shape and then cover it with clay.
  • For other ways of making a volcano model, please read this.
  • You can also research volcano forms and choose your favorite from out of all of them.
  • When you're going to blow up the volcano, do it outside, like in your backyard. Or you can do it inside in a little box. It won't be so messy when you clean up if you do it outside.
  • Vinegar can really stink so throw out your newspaper and wipe everything up with a paper towel. Rinse off your volcano for next time.
  • You can paint it like a peaceful mountain with trees, snow, etc. This would be more like the volcanoes of Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.


  • Wash your hand with warm water and soap after finishing the project.
  • This will get messy - you may want to complete these steps outside.

Things You'll Need

  • A plastic 2L soda bottle and a funnel
  • Modeling clay
  • Red food dye
  • paint
  • paper
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda

Sources and Citations

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