Baking soda makes a great birthday bomb

Homemade birthday bombs are perfect entertainment for any kids' birthday party. (Fotolia)

Homemade birthday bombs are perfect entertainment for any kids' birthday party. (Fotolia)

Maila Rible, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Congratulations! You have just been selected as the entertainment for your 8-year-old nephew's birthday party. While you might not be sure what crime you committed to deserve this fate, you can be sure of success. As long as you get things going with a bang.

You Will Need:

  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • 2 Zip-Top Bags (1 Large, 1 Small)
  • Food Colouring

Photo Steps:

1. Pour the baking soda into the large bag.

2. Pour the vinegar into the smaller bag. Add food colouring if you wish.

3. Place the small bag in the large bag, be careful not to spill!

4. Squeeze the air out of the large bag and seal it tightly.

5. Shake to mix and back away from your bomb!

Scientific fact that I just made up but is probably true: Everyone loves explosions. Also, parents love safety. And party hosts love activities that are easy to clean. Is it possible to give everyone what they want in one fantastic experiment? The answer is yes, and the secret lies in acid-base chemistry.

First amass your supplies. You'll need two zip-top plastic bags (one large and one small), vinegar, baking soda and some food coloring.

Start by pouring at least one-and-a-half cups of baking soda into the larger bag. Next, pour at least one cup of white vinegar into the smaller bag. Add a few drops of food colouring to the vinegar for extra fun. Seal up the smaller bag and place it in with the baking soda. Now transport your "bomb" to a location that can handle a mess. Garages and driveways work well. The living room does not.

Now comes the tricky part: Open the smaller bag's zipper while leaving it inside the bag with the baking soda. Carefully squeeze out as much of the air as possible from the larger bag without spilling the vinegar. Seal up the large bag, grab it by the bottom and flip it over, shaking it to mix the vinegar and baking soda. Now back up and watch the show.

This probably isn't the first time you've seen this kind of fizz, especially if you're a fan of that science fair staple, the baking soda volcano. But understanding how this works can help you concoct some new experiments. When vinegar (an acid) and baking soda (a base) are combined, the reaction produces carbon dioxide gas. The molecules in a gas take up way more space than those in a solid or a liquid, hence the reason the bag goes boom.

If you're hosting a party, have the guests experiment with different amounts of vinegar and baking soda or different sizes of bags. Have a contest to see who can get the biggest explosion. Or let the bag get super-full without it bursting and stomp on it for an explosion of goo instead.

While this experiment is unlikely to result in injury, it's not a bad idea to put budding scientists in safety goggles, in case of rapid propulsion of soggy soda into inquisitive eyes. You might also want to consider plastic ponchos or a change of clothes. Aside from the food colouring, the vinegar and baking soda will wash out easily. However, no one wants to spend their birthday party smelling like a jar of pickles.


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