This experiment mimics the eruption of lava from a volcano.

Making a volcano erupt is a science project every kid must explore at some point. This project is a more enjoyable way to see an acid-base reaction than simply mixing vinegar and baking soda in a beaker. While there are several methods for building a volcano, you and your child can make dough or papier-mache with flour and water. No matter which method you choose, don’t be afraid to get messy, and watch your child’s excitement while observing chemistry’s most famous reaction.

Flour Dough

Put 5 1/2 cups of flour with 2 cups of salt and 2 cups of water in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the ingredients together with your hands. If the mixture is too runny, add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil or more flour to thicken it. The mixture should be firm, like clay.

Place an empty plastic bottle in the center of a large square piece of cardboard.

Mold the flour dough over the plastic bottle in a cone shape, so it looks like a volcano. Leave the bottle opening uncovered, so you can pour ingredients you need for your acid-base reaction into it.


Stir together 1 cup flour with 1 cup of water in a large mixing bowl.

Place an empty plastic bottle on top of a piece of cardboard, cut into a large square shape.

Wrap a couple pieces of construction paper around the plastic bottle to make a funnel shape, like a volcano. Secure the paper with tape or glue.

Tear strips of newspaper and dip them into your papier-mache. Make sure the entire strip is covered.

Cover your construction paper volcano entirely with papier-mache. You can make the papier-mache three or four layers deep. Do not cover the top of the plastic bottle because you need to be able to pour ingredients into it for your reaction.

Paint your papier-mache volcano if desired.

The Experiment

Fill the plastic bottle 3/4 full with warm water.

Squeeze a few drops of dish detergent into the bottle, followed by a few drops of red food coloring. The dish detergent will help make more bubbles, and the food coloring will make your lava turn red.

Put three tablespoons of baking soda into the plastic bottle.

Prepare a glass or other pouring device with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Slowly pour the vinegar into the plastic bottle and watch the volcano erupt.

Things Needed

  • ['5 1/2 cups flour', '2 cups water', '2 cups salt', 'Large mixing bowl', 'Vegetable oil', 'Empty plastic bottle', 'Large piece of cardboard, cut into a square', 'Construction paper', 'Tape or glue', 'Newspaper', 'Paint', 'Dish detergent', 'Red food coloring', '3 tablespoons baking soda', '1/2 cup vinegar']


  • Practice lab safety by wearing gloves and goggles during the experiment.