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Kitchen Science: Lemon Volcanoes

While these are not giant volcanic eruptions, this is a great project that feeds the senses, is easy, and fun! The colorful eruptions are created through harnessing the chemical reaction of citric acid and baking soda. Agitating the reaction by stirring it causes frothy fun!

Materials

  • Lemons I recommend 2 lemons per volcano
  • Baking Soda
  • Liquid Watercolors/ Food Coloring
  • Craft Stick
  • Dish soap
  • Tray
  • Cup & Spoons
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You can do this experiment using a cored lemon or an open faced lemon or both!

  • Step One (Adults only) Prep your lemon by slicing the bottom off to make them sit flat. Flip the lemon over and slice out the core. If you are making an open faced volcano, slice the lemon in half.
  • Step Two Prepare extra lemon juice by slicing a second lemon in half and juicing it. Pour juice into a cup and set aside.
  • Step Three Place your cored lemon on a tray. Use your craft stick to mush the center of the lemon and bring out the juices. Be sure to keep the juice in the lemon!
  • Step Four Place a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolors (do not dilute) in the center of the lemon.
  • Step Five Add in a good squeeze of dish soap to the lemon. This is not necessary but causes the bubbles to ooze and froth more and longer.
  • Step Six Add a spoonful of baking soda into the lemon. It should start to fizz. Take your craft stick and stir the lemon and lemon juice. It should start foaming really well as you stir it!
  • Step Seven To keep the reaction going alternatively add more baking soda, coloring, dish soap and the reserved lemon juice to the reaction. Squeezing the lemon to release the juices also enhances the reaction. Or just have the little ones stick their whole hand in there and give it a good squeeze!
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Bonus

  • Did you know that citric acid is also found in drink mixes like Kool Aid? You can alternatively watch this chemical reaction by mixing powdered Kool-Aid and baking soda in a cup, then adding water.
  • Make your own fizzy drink by mixing baking soda into your next batch of homemade lemonade!
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The Science Behind Lemon Volcanoes

Lemon juice contains citric acid which when mixed with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) reacts to form carbon dioxide and sodium citrate, which causes the liquid to fizz and bubble. Citric acid is a common food additive used in soft drinks as a preservative and flavoring.

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