How to Make a Volcano

Three Methods:The Standard VolcanoThe Lava VolcanoThe Explosive Volcano

Making a volcano is an ideal science experiment, home school or school project or just something to get the kids to do on a rainy day. Even the adults can have some fun making these, if you include the activity as a party game. This article presents various different ways to make a volcano––choose the one that seems the most interesting to you or the one for which you have ready access to the "Things You'll Need".


Note: Always pour the lava ingredients somewhere that it's safe to make a mess. It is recommended to set off the actual volcanic explosion outside if you don't want to clean up a mess!



Method 1
The Standard Volcano

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    Lay down a sheet of wax paper.
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    Place a container at the center. Use a container (soda can, mason jar, plastic bottle, etc.) to form the center of your volcano. This is where you will mix your lava!
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    Use clay to make the rest of the volcano. Mold the clay from the base to the top of the can. Try to make it look lumpy instead of smooth, since real volcanoes don’t look like perfect cones most of the time!
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    Leave for one hour or until dry.
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    Mix your vinegar. Color some vinegar with red food coloring and mix in a tablespoon of dish soap.
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    Pour the mixture into the volcano.
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    Package your baking soda. Take baking soda and pour it on a square of toilet paper or paper towel. Fold up the toilet paper/paper towel. Keep it closed with rubber bands.
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    Drop the baking soda roll in the vinegar.
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    Step away. Once the paper dissolves, your volcano will explode.

Method 2
The Lava Volcano

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    Get a good working surface. You will want a surface that can get messy, because this will get very messy.
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    Get a container. You will want a fairly large container, such as a 32oz soda bottle.
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    Form the outside of the volcano. You can make the outside from clay, playdough, dirt, soil, or tin foil. Paint it brown and black to make it look more realistic. Let it set until it is all dry.
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    Pour your hydrogen peroxide. Get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from a beauty supply store. You will need a 6% solution (usually labeled as “20-volume”. Pour half a cup of the hydrogen peroxide into the container in your volcano.
    • Be careful with hydrogen peroxide. You hurt yourself if you touch it too much or get it in your eyes. Only adults should handle hydrogen peroxide.
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    • If you want to make the reaction even more dramatic, use a 30% solution of hydrogen peroxide. This may be more difficult to find, however.
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    Mix in soap and food coloring. Mix in at least six drops of red food coloring and two drops of yellow food coloring. Then mix in about two tablespoons of dish soap.
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    Mix yeast. Get a tablespoon of dry yeast and mix it with 3 tablespoons of water in a separate small cup.
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    Pour the yeast. Pour the yeast mixture into the volcano
    • Stand back!
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Method 3
The Explosive Volcano

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    Set up outdoors. This is going to set off such a big explosion that you’re going to want to be outdoors and have lots of space. This volcano experiment should only be conducted by adults, though kids will have lots of fun watching!
    • Seriously, guys, it’s a bit dangerous. Be careful.
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    Get a few helpers. This experiment will require at least two people, three would be better. Make sure that the people running the experiment have as much of their skin covered as possible and that their clothing is not overly loose.
    • This experiment uses liquid nitrogen, which will not feel good on your skin. Be safe.
    • Also, goggles are a good idea. If you’re one of the lucky people setting off the explosion, wear goggles.
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    Get a good quality plastic garbage can. Don’t get a little can. Get one of those huge, sturdy cans that janitors use. A low quality can will simply crack and ruin the experiment, so it is important to get a good one. The plastic should be thick and the seams strong. Place the garbage can outside on a cement, stone, or brick surface.
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    Fill the can with water. Fill the can with water until around the 80% mark. You can color the water if you want to. Using Kool Aid will probably work best.
    • You can also stick some ping pong balls in there if you want to mimic falling boulders and other volcanic debris. If doing this, put in slightly less water (maybe 70-75%).
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    Prepare a plastic bottle. Get a 32oz (1L) plastic soda bottle and attach two bricks to either side of it using duct tape.
    • The bottom of the brick should be even with the bottom of the bottle.
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    Fill the bottle. Set the bottle contraption on the ground and have a helper hold a funnel just over the top of the bottle. Have another helper standing ready with the bottle cap to seal the bottle once you’ve filled it. Fill the bottle with about 2" (5cm) of liquid nitrogen. (The amount is inexact and does not matter too much).
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    Quickly cap the bottle. The cap-holding helper should quickly cap the bottle tightly. You have less than five seconds to get the bottle capped and in the garbage can.
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    Place the bottle at the center of the garbage can. Drop the bottle into the center of the can and then get out of the way. The explosion will occur in about 15-30 seconds.
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    Enjoy your explosion. Make sure everyone is standing at least 30 feet (9.1 m) away. More is preferable. The explosion is really big. This explosion mimics what is called a Plinian Eruption, a particular type of volcanic eruption often associated with Mt. St. Helens or ancient Vesuvius. The water will launch into the air and rain down
    • Wait at least two full minutes before assuming the experiment has gone wrong. Approach very carefully, wearing safety equipment. If it does not work, the cap was probably put on incorrectly.[1]

Tips

  • It's best if you pour the ingredients very carefully or there might be a very messy explosion.
  • You can paint and decorate your volcano if you wish, just make sure it has plenty of time to dry before eruption or adding more moisture might cause it to fall apart.
  • Try using soda and mint candy in combination to increase the effects of the explosion.
  • Make sure to do this outside, it can be very messy.
  • Make sure to wrap the rubber band tightly.
  • Make sure that you stand back a little or it may explode on you.
  • Make sure to add the right amount of the ingredients, or it might end up wrong.
  • If you are a kid, Make sure to have an older person to guide you.
  • Make sure you put your volcano on a newspaper or a table so you won't get messy.
  • For more of an explosion put more vinegar and more baking soda into the bottle.
  • Add glitter in it to make it shiny.
  • Make sure it erupts on a sturdy table or something like a cake base that is easy to clean up.
  • Don't add too much water or the volcano won't explode properly.
  • Using paper mache will work well too.
  • If you want to make your lava thicker add more baking soda.

Warnings

  • Stand back as soon as you pour in the vinegar––the volcano will immediately start to erupt.
  • This experiment can be dangerous if you are too close. The fizzing ingredients can end up in your eyes if you're too close to the volcano when it erupts. Step back two feet (60 cm, two ruler lengths) immediately.
  • Make sure to wear gloves and goggles.
  • This is an extremely messy experiment! It's best performed outdoors or in a kitchen or bathroom with tile floors. If using food coloring, there is a risk of staining floors and furnishings.

Things You’ll Need

Standard Volcano

  • Soda can or bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Paper towels
  • Food coloring
  • Rubber bands
  • Clay

Lava Volcano

  • 32 oz (1L) soda bottle
  • 2 Bricks
  • Duct tape
  • Clay
  • Paint
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dry yeast
  • Water
  • Dish detergent
  • Food coloring - red and yellow

Explosive Volcano

  • Liquid nitrogen
  • Garbage can - large, sturdy
  • Water
  • Kool-aid (optional)
  • Ping pong balls
  • Plastic soda bottle (with cap)

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