Easy Volcano Experiment

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Lava!

We made the easiest, fastest, most fun volcano experiment in our kitchen today. It was so easy, we made many volcanoes, again and again.

Now by easy and fast, I am not referring to the volcano experiment we did earlier this week that resulted in broken glass, a brief roaring of flames on the stove burner, and melted wax as well as sand all over my stove. No, no, I am not referring to the experiment that my kids keep relaying to every non-homeschooling stranger we run into.  About how Mommy almost caught the kitchen on fire with the volcano experiment, thus reinforcing any thoughts they may be having about those darn homeschoolers not being qualified to teach.  More on that later.

Anyway, here is all you need:

  • Vinegar, 5 tablespoons
  • Water, 1/3 cup
  • Baking soda, 4 teaspoons
  • Dishwashing liquid, 2 teaspoons (more if you want extra foam)
  • Red food coloring (optional, if you want to make the lava look more authentic), 3 drops
  1. Add the baking soda and dishwashing liquid to the water. Don’t even need to stir.
  2.  In a separate container, add the vinegar and red food coloring.
  3. Pour the vinegar mixture into the baking soda mixture.  Instant lava.

  Cool, right?  Now here’s the one that wasn’t cool.  I kept seeing this “volcano in a teacup thing” made from a layer of wax, a layer of sand and then water, on Pinterest. Darn it, Pinterest.

Well, it started out all right.

Anyway, supposedly, you heat the glass tea cup or container and it melts the wax, builds pressure, then sends little surges of melted wax through the sand and up to the surface of the water, looking like lava erupting from a volcano.  I searched for more specific instructions on line, such as how much wax?  How much sand and water? I found a single YouTube video with some instructions typed in the comments. That was it.  It should have been my first clue.

Well, despite my efforts to not let the jar get to hot and break—it broke. Melted wax, sand and water gushed everywhere. I think I felt the way villagers must’ve felt when a volcano suddenly erupted without warning. The gas stove burner made a big flame for an instant.

And then things went horribly awry.

The kids saw fire and panicked, even though the fire went away as soon as I turned the burner off. Too late. One kid was already running upstairs to get his most prized posessions, ready to evacuate. Another kid was running around screaming, “Call 911!”  The little one started inquiring about, “When da firemans gonna get here?”

Followed by two days of, “We didn’t like that experiment, Momma!”  And describing it in detail to strangers, as I mentioned above.

So, um, yeah, do the first experiment, ok?  Not the second one. Definitely not the second one.