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Set up a mega science experiment to figure out what baking soda and vinegar ratio works best for you and your preschooler!
We love a good baking soda and vinegar experiment, don’t you!??
I don’t know how many times the kids and I have done experiments with baking soda and vinegar.
But I’ve always questioned how much to use of each…
I’ve always just guessed and it turned out however it turned out.
Sometimes it was a great fizzy explosion, other times it just plain fizzled out.
However, the boys have always had a good time with our experiments.
But I thought it was time to figure out the ratio to make the best fizzy “explosion” using just baking soda and vinegar.
And letting the kids decide what worked the best.
First of all, why do baking soda and vinegar react the way they do?
I’m not all science-y and understand chemical reactions, so I had to look up a good answer for you from Steve Spangler Science.
The bubbles and foam you see are filled with carbon dioxide gas (CO2) that’s being released by an acid/base reaction. Vinegar is acetic acid dissolved in water and baking soda is a base called sodium bicarbonate. Initially, the reaction makes carbonic acid which is unstable. It quickly breaks down into CO2 and water. The gas then rapidly leaves the water creating foam and bubbles along the way.
You can read more about how the science behind this experiment as well as learn how to make and amazing rocket propelled by baking soda and vinegar over on Steve Spangler Science.
What ratio of baking soda to vinegar is best?
I set up an experiment for Henry and I to discover how to get the best baking soda and vinegar results.
We kept it a simple mixture, with just these 2 ingredients:
- baking soda
No added food coloring to worry about stains or anything like that. Keeping it very simple.
It might be handy to set this up on a tray, or outside and keep a sponge or towel handy to clean up the fizzy overflow.
I set up 3 glasses (clear).
Then, I had Henry write the numbers 1-2-3 each on a piece of paper to label the glasses so he could write down the results of his experiment.
The More Vinegar Experiment
First, I started by pouring vinegar in each glass.
I corresponded the number of tablespoons of vinegar to the number on Henry’s papers.
- 1 tablespoon
- 3 tablespoons
For this initial experiment, we used one tablespoon of baking soda as our constant for this round of experimenting.
Henry measured one tablespoon of baking soda and dumped it into the first glass with one tablespoon of vinegar and observed what happened.
We kept doing this (always with one tablespoon of baking soda) through all three glasses and found that the fizzing got bigger and better with each additional tablespoon of vinegar.
Another round of testing would be done to see the reaction with even more vinegar!
Does Even More Vinegar Get a Better Fizz?
Another setup was done with more vinegar, to see if the explosions would keep getting biger.
This time we tried more vinegar in each glass:
- 4 tablespoons
- 5 tablespoons
- 6 tablespoons
Each still with one tablespoon of baking soda poured in to test.
We found once again that the fizzing was quite a bit bigger and better with 6 tablespoons as a result.
Yes! More vinegar equals more fizz!
Yet another round of testing needed to be done. This time I skipped numbers and didn’t do consecutive counting so we could really see the difference.
I set up the cups each with different amounts of vinegar:
- 3 tablespoons
- 6 tablespoons
- 12 tablespoons
Whoa! 12 tablespoons of vinegar to 1 tablespoon of baking soda overflowed our glasses!
(Told you the sponge may come in handy for cleanup! However, baking soda and vinegar make excellent detergents, so maybe you could do this in the bathtub and scrub the soap scum off in the process! Ha!)
I can’t help but wonder if we were to try it with even more vinegar what the result would be.
But our glass was overflowing the way it was, so that was the end of our experimenting to find out the best ratio.
The next question I had…
Is it better to add baking soda to vinegar? Or vinegar to baking soda?
Would twelve tablespoons of vinegar have the same reaction if the roles were reversed and we added it to one tablespoon of baking soda, or does it not matter?
Would the chemical reactions be the same?
We HAD to find out!
So we tested that as well with the best ratio of baking soda to vinegar above.
The amount of fizzing was the same for both.
However… there is a difference in the time of reaction between the two.
When you add baking soda to vinegar like we did the first experiment above, the reaction it creates is sort of delayed, building up to a big fizz. But it’s slow building.
On the flip side, when you flip flop the roles and add the vinegar to the baking soda , the reaction is immediate and almost explosive.
Depending on the experiment you’re doing, you may want to do it one way over the other.
Our Mega Baking Soda and Vinegar Experiment Results:
Adding vinegar to baking soda gives you an immediate reaction. Adding baking soda to vinegar, the reaction is delayed, but then fizzes the same amount.
More vinegar is better. A 12 to 1 ratio of vinegar to baking soda caused a fizzing explosion!
We could have kept going with this all afternoon! Henry was getting a kick out of the experiment and loved watching it overflow the cup.
Do you add baking soda to vinegar or vinegar to baking soda when you do these experiments?
When we do our blow up a balloon experiment, it is adding the baking soda to the vinegar that is already in the bottle. Which is a delayed fizz. I wonder what would happen if we did the opposite and reversed the roles? Would the balloon blow up more rapidly? Would the balloon explode?
That sounds like an experiment we need to try, or you need to try and report back and tell me how it turns out!