Watch as “snowballs” bubble and fizz in this experiment!
Age Group: Elementary School
Difficulty: Easy to perform and see results
Note: Parent supervision is recommended for all experiments
1. Place a few spoons of baking soda onto your plate.
2. Add a few drops of water.
3. Mix the two together and continue adding water, until you get a dough-like consistency with the baking soda and water.
4. Mold this dough into a few balls. These will be your “snowballs”.
5. Put your snowballs into the freezer for a few minutes to harden them.
6. Place the snowballs in a plate, in any pattern or design you want. Here, a "snowman" is built on the plate.
7. Pour vinegar over the snowballs
8. Watch as your snowballs begin to bubble!
How it Works:
In this experiment, we see a reaction occur between the baking soda and vinegar. Vinegar is also known as acetic acid. This means that vinegar is an acid. An acid is defined as having a very low pH number - pH is what is used to determine if something is an acid or a base. For something to be acidic, it would have a pH under 7. Household vinegar, or acetic acid, has a pH of about 2.5. Other examples of acids include orange juice, battery acid, and milk. Baking soda, on the other hand, is known as a base. A material is a base when it has a pH that is greater than 7. The pH of baking soda is about 9. Other examples of bases include coffee, soap, and eggs. A pH of exactly 7 means the material is neutral, meaning it is neither acidic nor basic. Water is a neutral material.
Acids and bases also tend to have different properties in them as well. Here are some of their differences:
Due to the great difference in properties, when acids and bases interact, they react with each other. This reaction between acid and base brings about the bubbles that we see when the vinegar and baking soda interact.
Now that we know why the reaction occurs, we can see exactly what happens when the baking soda and vinegar react. Vinegar has a chemical formula of C2H4O2. This means that in one molecule of vinegar, we will see 2 Carbon atoms, 2 Oxygen atoms, and 4 Hydrogen atoms.
Baking soda, also known as Sodium Bicarbonate, has a chemical formula of NaHCO3. This means that a molecule of Baking soda has one atom of sodium (represented with Na), one atom of hydrogen, one atom of carbon, and three atoms of oxygen.
This is the reaction that occurs between the baking soda and vinegar:
Key: Red = Oxygen, Dark Gray = Carbon, Light Gray = Sodium (Na), White = Hydrogen
In this, we see that various atoms in the vinegar and baking soda, mix together and bond to form new compounds like Sodium acetate, Water (also known as H2O), and carbon dioxide.