Q:

Why does baking soda and vinegar erupt?

A:

Quick Answer

The mixture of baking soda and vinegar erupts because the baking soda and vinegar react to form carbon dioxide gas inside of the mixture. The carbon dioxide rises to the surface of the baking soda and vinegar mixture in the same way that carbon dioxide rises in carbonated beverages, such as soda.

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Full Answer

The reaction between baking soda and vinegar is an acid-base reaction as vinegar is a dilute acid called acetic acid. Likewise, baking soda is a basic compound that is also called sodium bicarbonate. Both acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate are capable of disassociating into two different ions when dissolved in water. When both are present in water, the sodium in the baking soda switches places with the hydrogen ion in acetic acid. The result is two new compounds, sodium acetate and carbonic acid.

Carbonic acid undergoes a second step in the interaction to produce carbon dioxide and water. Therefore, although the reaction occurs very quickly in a baking soda and vinegar volcano, it requires more than one chemical reaction step to complete.

The results of a baking soda and vinegar reaction are water, sodium acetate and carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide escapes as bubbles in the explosion, the only thing left in the volcano after the eruption is a dilute sodium acetate solution.

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