Make Your Own Blast!

Kids science parties is where everyone learns that baking power and vinegar makes tons of gas and bubbles, and it is amazing. But what is the formula and the gas coming out?

What is happening?

Baking powder is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO³) and some other stuff. Vinegar is mainly acetic acid (CH³COOH) in water.

Na+HCO³-+ CH³COOH ? CH³COO-Na++ CO² + H²O

The resulting gas is carbon dioxide. You also get some water and some aqueous sodium acetiate. Hey, but that’s just boring stuff. What can you do with it that’s FUN? How about a big boom?

Now this is what you need and how to do it. But first please remember that you must repeat MUST have a responsible adult with you at all times. And a further warning, this one can get messy so if you don’t want to be cleaning the front room for a week, choose a safe place where it does not matter if things get messy.

Although you are dealing with normal household items which should cause no harm, if you spill vinegar on yourself or get baking powder on your body wash off with warm water. If you get either in your eyes, wash with plenty of warm water. If you have any concerns seek professional medical advice.

What you will need

  1. Vinegar
  2. Baking soda
  3. Paper towel or toilet paper
  4. Warm (not hot) water
  5. Zip lock bag
  6. One big adult

How to do it

  1. Now you may need to test that you zip lock bag is water and air tight. If you have any doubts test it with some water. Half fill the bag, close the zip and turn it upside down. If no water comes out, you are fine. If the water pours out you need to find another bag.
  2. Tear the paper towel into pieces about 100 mm or 4 inches square. For toilet paper, just use one sheet. Put one heaped teaspoon of baking powder in the centre. Fold 1/3 of the paper in from one side and then 1/3 from the other. You should have a piece of towel that is about 33 mm x 100 mm or if you haven’t converted yet say 1.1/3 inches by 4 inches. Next fold in the long side by 1/3 on both long sides so you end up with a square about 33 mm x 33 mm or if you Imperial guys are still with us 1.1/3 inches square. The paper acts as a fuse to delay the reaction and give you time to run for cover.
  3. Prepare about half a cup of vinegar and about 1/3 cup of warm water. Grab hold of the zip lock bag and pour in the vinegar and water. Hold the bag upright so it doesn’t all spill out. Half close the zip. Now, here is the tricky part. Take your packet of wrapped baking powder and tuck it just under where you have closed the zip. Hold it in place above the liquid and close the rest of the zip.
  4. Make sure the zip is closed properly. There will be air trapped in the bag so you could test the lock by a gentle squeeze of the bag to make sure that the air does not escape. Remember to keep the paper packet out of the vinegar.
  5. OK, this is the part for which you have been waiting. Drop your hold on the baking powder pack. Let it drop into the vinegar/water mixture. Give it a little swoosh around and quickly put the package down and stand back.
  6. What you should see is the bag blow itself up and up until it suddenly bursts.
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