Exploding Pumpkin | Science Experiment

The Exploding Pumpkin Experiment Looking for an explosive good time? Welcome to the Steve Spangler Science Exploding Pumpkin experiment, also known as the “self-carving pumpkin trick.” It’s also Steve Spangler's favorite way to get kids excited about science at Halloween.

Just consider it a new way to carve a pumpkin at Halloween. First, carve your pumpkin in the traditional way, then push the pieces cut out of the jack-o’-lantern’s face back into place. The chemical reaction in this exploding pumpkin experiment is triggered inside the pumpkin. The result? Those previously carved pieces are literally blown out of the pumpkin! If you didn’t know that the pumpkin had been carved already, it would seem as if you magically carved the pumpkin with a single eruption!

The Science of Exploding Pumpkins

What about the science part of this? This exploding pumpkin method is a favorite among chemistry teachers, who often use this explosive demo to illustrate the energy released when you break a triple bond in a molecule of acetylene.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Do not try this experiment at home. Make friends with your friendly local chemistry or science teachers and let them amaze you with their pumpkin carving skills. 

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An Explosive Chemical Reaction

The reaction that takes place inside the pumpkin uses calcium carbide to generate a very small amount of acetylene gas. When the gas is ignited, a tremendous amount of energy is released, which pushes the pieces of the previously carved pumpkin out. Acetylene gas, C2H2, is very explosive and unstable. It is a hydrocarbon and is the simplest alkyne. It is also colorless and is often used for welding. Mixtures with air that contain between 3% and 82% acetylene are highly explosive on ignition.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Our popular Exploding Pumpkin experiment should only be performed by a trained professional! 

Halloween Experiments — and More

Whether you’re looking for some fun exploding science experiments or a great way to have a blast at your next Halloween party, Steve Spangler Science is the place to be! Don’t miss our other super-fun pumpkin experiments, including our Oozing Pumpkin and our Oozing Pumpkin Elephant Toothpaste experiment. 

We’re dedicated to creating amazing, memorable experiences that will make people of all ages fall in love with science. Most of all, we’re out to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists with hands-on experiments. In addition to our exploding pumpkin experiment, we have dozens of other ideas for your home or classroom, including great chemistry experiments like this one! Check out our online experiment library, buy an all-in-one kit or sign up for the Steve Spangler Science Club and get everything you need for an amazing science experiment delivered to your door every month. 

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