How to make a volcano at home

Model the unique nature phenomenon with kids!

How can you tell chil­dren what a vol­cano is, in an ac­ces­si­ble and in­ter­est­ing way? Of course, you can take books with pic­tures of vol­ca­noes and try to ex­plain erup­tions and mag­ma. Or you could make a vol­cano your­self at home. You won’t just sat­is­fy the cu­rios­i­ty of young re­searchers, you will also in­spire them to take an in­ter­est in dif­fer­ent sci­ences: ge­og­ra­phy, chem­istry and ge­ol­o­gy.

[Deposit Photos]

It’s very easy to make a vol­cano at home. Ba­sic items that can be found at home and sim­ple wash­ing-up liq­uids make it pos­si­ble to cre­ate stun­ning ef­fects.

We rec­om­mend that you con­duct these ex­per­i­ments with chil­dren aged six or sev­en, who will have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what is go­ing on. Al­though this fas­ci­nat­ing spec­ta­cle will also in­ter­est both tod­dlers and adults.

Goal of ex­per­i­ment is to give chil­dren el­e­men­tary ideas about a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non — the vol­cano, and show the in­ter­ac­tion of al­ka­li with acid (neu­tral­iza­tion re­ac­tion).


  • form ideas about vol­canos, the dan­gers they present;
  • nur­ture an in­ter­est in ed­u­ca­tion­al and re­search work;
  • de­vel­op ac­tiv­i­ty, ini­tia­tive and in­de­pen­dence in ed­u­ca­tion­al work;
  • tell chil­dren about the ex­is­tence of the acid-al­ka­line medi­um.

Ma­te­ri­als and tools:

  • flask or bot­tle;
  • card­board for mak­ing the “moun­tain”;
  • plas­ticine to give the vol­cano form;
  • wa­ter;
  • soda;
  • cit­ric acid;
  • food col­or­ing (or­ange or red gouache);
  • dish-wash­ing liq­uid;
  • con­tain­er for mix­ing in­gre­di­ents and spoon;
  • sta­pler;
  • plas­tic con­tain­er;
  • toy fig­ures (var­i­ous an­i­mals, trees, rocks).

Ex­per­i­ment pro­ce­dure

1. Make the vol­cano.

To make the vol­cano it­self, you need to find a suit­able con­tain­er. You can use a flask, or small juice or yo­gurt bot­tles.

To make the bot­tle look like a moun­tain, we make a struc­ture out of card­board. Cut out a cir­cle, and make one cut along its ra­dius. Make the cir­cle into a cone and sta­ple it to­geth­er. Cut off the top of cone.

We put our con­tain­er in­side the cone. Now we have the frame of the vol­cano. With the plas­ticine, we can give the vol­cano its shape. We cov­er the card­board with plas­ticine, and make the vol­cano crater, hid­ing the neck of the con­tain­er.


We place the vol­cano mod­el in the plas­tic con­tain­er. You can also use a basin in­stead of a con­tain­er. We make a land­scape with var­i­ous types of an­i­mals (di­nosaurs, beasts), trees and rocks. We sprin­kle rocks at the foot of the vol­cano, and ar­range the trees and an­i­mals.

2. Pre­pare 2 so­lu­tions for the “lava”. We pour wa­ter into the con­tain­er (vol­cano) un­til it is two thirds fill, and add food col­or­ing (gouache), sev­er­al drops of dish-wash­ing liq­uid (so there’s a lot of foam) and five ta­ble­spoons of soda. We sep­a­rate­ly pre­pare the so­lu­tion: we di­lute cit­ric acid (I rec­om­mend 5 ta­ble­spoons per 1.5 cup of wa­ter).

3. Pro­voke the erup­tion.

Slow­ly pour the glass of cit­ric acid into the mouth of the vol­cano. I rec­om­mend that you stir the mix­ture thor­ough­ly in­side the vol­cano con­tain­er be­fore­hand. We watch the mag­ic tak­ing place, as the dor­mant vol­cano wakes up and turns into a fire-breath­ing moun­tain.

Re­sult of ex­per­i­ment

Foam of a fiery red col­or be­gins erupt­ing out of the mouth of the vol­cano.

Volcano eruption (without dyer) [Flickr]

Sci­en­tif­ic ex­pla­na­tion

Peo­ple will ask: “Why does the vol­cano erupt?” We get the ef­fect of lava erupt­ing from the vol­cano in the in­ter­ac­tion of two sub­stances - soda and cit­ric acid. This process is called a neu­tral­iza­tion re­ac­tion in chem­istry. It means that the acid re­acts with al­ka­li (soda) and they neu­tral­ize each oth­er, re­leas­ing car­bon diox­ide, which caus­es the mix­ture in­side the vol­cano to foam, and makes the mass pour over the edge of the crater. The dish-wash­ing liq­uid makes the “lava” bub­ble more vi­o­lent­ly. We rec­om­mend you to do an­oth­er ex­per­i­ment with vol­cano, but with the glow­ing lava this time.