Earth Science Week day 2: How to make a kitchen volcano….

Last week, we blogged about the best volcanic hang outs for aspiring super-villains. Realistically though, we know many of you Evil Geologists can’t afford a lair to call your own – in view of this, we present the (sort of) next best thing. A volcano in your very own kitchen…

It’s not easy to produce your own volcano (although these guys are having a hilariously good go at it), which presents a problem for classroom demonstrations/DIY volcanism. But this simple experiment gives an idea of what a volcano can look like when it erupts, giving children or inquisitive adults a close up view of a ‘lava flow’ as it happens.

The great thing about this experiment is that it can be done in one lesson, and can include discussion with students about how carbon dioxide is given off during an eruption, magma is the molten rock inside a volcano, and lava flows during an eruption. It’s a good idea to have some igneous rocks on hand as well – pumice, granite and obsidian are good ways to demonstrate that a variety of rocks are produced in eruptions.

What you’ll need…

2x plastic cups
1x paper plate
roll of silver foil
glug of red food colouring
50ml vinegar
50ml washing up liquid
3xtable spoons bicarbonate of soda
lump of blue tack

Here’s how you do it…

Attach the plastic cup to the plate using blue tack - you can use scissors to adjust the height of the cup, depending on how big you want your volcano to be!

Cover the plate and cup with a sheet of foil - don't forget to make a hole above the cup for the caldera!

Pour in two or three teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda....

Mix together roughly equal amounts of vinegar and washing up liquid, and add red food dye to give the experiment that molton lava look...

Pour the mixture into the cup, filling it to about halfway or slightly over (more if you want a really messy explosion!)















Stand back and watch your eruption unfold….

Spot the difference....







Tip – try adding different combinations of vinegar and baking soda to create different and bigger eruptions!

So there you have it – not quite a lair, but you have to start somewhere…

For more information about the career of a volcanologist, visit our career profiles pages.

3 thoughts on “Earth Science Week day 2: How to make a kitchen volcano….

  1. Spot the difference, one is a photo of the side view of a real volcanic eruption, the second is an aerial view of the experiment. Can the two be compared from different angles? How high did the experimental eruption go compared to it’s scale? I think I’ll have to replicate it and make some notes…

    • Hi John,

      Good point – not the best basis for comparison! It does achieve a bit of height, though not quite as impressive as the real thing…Probably about a third, scaled down, of what the real volcano manages.

      Let us know if you give it a go!

  2. Pingback: Earth Science Week 2012 | Geological Society of London blog

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