How to Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow

Many model volcanoes use baking soda and vinegar to produce a lava flow. This is for those interested in producing true strato-volcanic pyroclastic flow complete with ash and smoke.

Steps

  1. Image titled Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow Step 1
    1
    This should only be done or supervised by an adult. It should only be done outside in an open area. All fire safety precautions should be taken.
  2. Image titled Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow Step 2
    2
    Build a model volcano using a metal soup can as the vent.
  3. Image titled Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow Step 3
    3
    Mix together powdered sugar and salt peter aka potassium nitrate (available at garden store) in a 60% potassium nitrate to 40% sugar weight ratio to make about 50 grams.
  4. Image titled Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow Step 4
    4
    Fill vent with mix and place a model rocket engine igniter (available at hobby store) into the mix.
  5. Image titled Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow Step 5
    5
    Attach 25 feet (7.6 m). of speaker wire with alligator clips to the igniter and run the wire away from volcano. Make sure the igniter tip is buried in the mixture.
  6. Image titled Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow Step 6
    6
    Fill vent all the way to the top (and overflowing if you like) with ash from a fireplace (optional, but really cool).
  7. Image titled Make a Model Volcano Pyroclastic Flow Step 7
    7
    Stand back and touch the tips of the wires to a 9 volt battery (it doesn't matter which wires touch which electrodes).

Tips

  • Use basic electronics (Radio Shack) to rig a control switch or better yet a cool detonation box.
  • Rig the wires up through the vent to hide them
  • Grind up the salt peter so it reacts quicker

Warnings

  • This is a fire hazard. Only to be done outside in an open space
  • Volcano will be hot after eruption. Handle with care
  • Stand at least 25 feet (7.6 m). away to avoid flying particles

Things You'll Need

  • Sugar
  • Salt Peter (potassium Nitrate)
  • Speaker wire
  • alligator clips
  • 9V battery
  • Model rocket engine igniter
  • Soup can
  • Switch (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Science for Kids