Chemistry Rocket: Acid-Base Reaction
Blast-off with this new spin on the classic baking soda and vinegar experiment
When you think of baking soda and vinegar, you probably think of two things: homemade volcano models or that gross thing Aunt Muriel calls “dinner.” Don't let these lackluster and disgusting experiences put you off to the true potential of this classic acid and base reaction. With the Chemistry Rocket experiment, you'll see just how explosive and exciting the combination of baking soda and vinegar can be when it's in the right setting.
- 16 oz bottle
- Rubber stopper (needs to fit in opening of bottle)
- Baking soda
- Strong tape
- Three unused pencils
- White vinegar
- Paper towel
- Using the scissors, (you've got to protect those pearly whites) cut a 12″ piece of strong tape. Duct tape is going to work the best, but you can substitute electrical or masking tape.
- Use the tape that you just cut to fix the three pencils to the outside of a 16 oz bottle. Try to keep the pencils as equidistant from each other as possible. Your Chemistry Rocket needs to have a steady launch platform.
- Use a funnel to fill the 16 oz bottle halffull (or half-empty if your a pessimist) with white vinegar.
- Take a single paper towel from a roll. The paper towel you have is probably comprised of multiple layers, so separate the paper towel until it is down to a single layer.
- Tear off about 1/4 of the paper towel and put one tablespoon of baking soda on the piece of paper towel.
Wrap the baking soda in the piece of paper towel. Make sure that the paper towel can fit into the opening of the 16 oz bottle.
Now you're about to get a little (read: a lot) messy. You're going to want to take this experiment outside for the rest of the steps. Trust us. Your parents and teachers will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
- This step has to happen quickly, or what you'll have is a failure to launch. Put the paper towel-wrapped baking soda inside the bottle and immediately put the rubber stopper into the opening of the bottle. Give the rocket a quick, hard shake and set it upright on the pencils. Stand back!
- You didn't really have time for a countdown, did you? You can do it now if you want… or you can just yell, “Awesome!” and do the experiment again.
How Does It Work?
Take It Further!
Try experimenting with different amounts of baking soda and vinegar. If you want a bigger launch, you've got to figure out the best combination of baking soda and vinegar to produce the most explosive reaction.