How to make a snow volcano experiment for kids

Making a snow volcano experiment is a fun and easy way to teach your kids of all ages about science. All you need is baking soda, vinegar, and a little creativity! This is a great simple science experiment for kids of all ages, including pre-schoolers. Creating a snow volcano experiment is also a fun way to combine play in the snow with learning.

Below are the steps to make your own volcano experiment at home. You can jump right to the instructions if you want.

Baking soda and vinegar volcano made of snow
How to make a snow volcano experiment for kids

What is a snow volcano experiment for kids?

Essentially, you will need to create a volcano base, build up a volcano with snow, and then create a chemical reaction by mixing a baking soda slurry with vinegar. Stem Mayhem teaches us that the reason there’s an eruption is that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a base, but vinegar (acetic acid) is an acid. First, the reaction makes carbonic acid. This is an unstable reaction, so it breaks down into a gas called carbon dioxide and water… This is the bubbly and fizzy reaction you see! The foamy bubbles are created as this reacts with the soap, making it bubble up and overflow.

Download a scientific method worksheet before starting

This is totally optional, but you may want to head over to my TpT store and download the Scientific Method worksheet for free. This way, you can emphasize key learning moments while introducing your preschooler to the scientific method. By practicing this, they will become confident in their ability to hypothesize, test, and evaluate experiments!

Plus, if you write down the step-by-step instructions and tuck this away in a folder for later, they can re-create the same activity another time.

Making a snow volcano: What you’ll need

Below are the basic ingredients for a baking soda and vinegar volcano. For the base, you can just build a volcano shape around the cup on the inside. We built one on an upside-down Rubbermaid container and the other right in the snow. Both worked great! And, to make it look more like lava, we added a few drops of red food coloring in our vinegar.

Here is everything you will need to make your own volcano experiment at home:

Materials:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • A container for the “lava” to pour out of (your base)
  • A container to mix the baking soda/water/dish soap
  • A spoon for mixing

Optional Ingredients:

  • A few drops of kid’s choice of food coloring
    • I usually let the kiddos add this and we come up with a number of drops that makes sense! Usually 5 or so is good
  • Pop rocks
    • These add a fun popping sound to the volcano! If you find some, they’re a super fun addition, but even without them this volcano science experiment is pretty cool

Do I need to add dish soap and food coloring?

Not at all. The food coloring just makes things more exciting. Usually, I’ll opt for red food coloring so it looks like lava pouring out of the top. But if I’m doing this with a small group then I’ll let the kiddos decide.

As for the soap, adding it increases the reaction time and creates more bubbles than without. But, that being said, I did this experiment for many years without the soap and it was just as fun!

Image of the snow volcano overflowing with a red colored vinegar and baking soda mixture
The first volcano built on top of a Rubbermaid

How to make a snow volcano

This baking soda volcano is super easy! With only 3 supplies needed, it’s also one of my favorite science experiments. All you need to do is make a baking soda slurry then pour the vinegar in at the end and you’ll have volcano eruptions!

Building the base of a snow volcano around a cup
The second time we made a volcano we built it right in the snow!

Instructions:

  1. Build the base of your volcano around a cup. Make sure not to cover the top!
    • Take out any snow that falls into the cup (it will make for less of a reaction)
    • Pack the snow as dense as you can near the top, because when the ‘hot lava’ meets snow it will start to melt.
  2. In a small container, mix the baking soda, food coloring, dish soap, and water with a spoon.
    • Add all of the other ingredients before the water! You only want to put enough water that you can pour your baking soda slurry.
    • If it is too runny, add baking soda.
  3. Pour your slurry into the volcano base.
  4. Finally, pour in the vinegar!
  5. Stand back and watch the lava flow as the vinegar reaction makes your volcano erupt!

What do I do when the volcano stops erupting?

Unfortunately, your carbon dioxide gas won’t erupt forever! In fact, the eruption time is pretty short. But, the nice thing about this easy volcano experiment is it’s easy to re-make. Since this volcano is made of snow, you may need to build up your base between eruptions as the “lava” will melt the snow.

First, try adding vinegar to the dormant volcano. It will likely cause another eruption because there will be a leftover baking soda mixture in the bottom of the container.

Then, try adding more baking soda. You can always mix vinegar in after to use it all up, but I find that even though kiddos love watching this fun activity, they’ve usually had enough fun after a few eruptions!

Conclusion

We hope you’ve loved this easy winter chemistry activity! Kiddos love to watch the lava ooze out of their homemade volcano and love hearing the chemical reaction take place as the baking soda and vinegar erupt.

This experiment is great for children of any age because it can be as basic or as complex as you make it. Kids can choose to make a base out of an empty water bottle and simply enjoy watching the volcano erupt, or you can get super scientific about it. For example, you could make this for a science fair project where the kids go into detail about the chemical reaction happening here while comparing it to real volcanoes. Or, you can use it as an experiment during a unit where you are exploring rocks and volcanoes, if the unit happens to fall during wintertime.

However you choose to incorporate this easy baking soda volcano into your science time, we would love to see what you created!

FAQs

Can there be a volcano in the snow?

Absolutely! When building your base make sure you pack the snow tightly so it doesn’t erode too much while playing.

How do you make a snow volcano erupt?

We use a simple mix of vinegar and baking soda to create a chemical reaction that looks like bubbling lava.

Resources

Ready for more science experiments? Try some of these fun experiments!

References

Why Does Baking Soda and Vinegar React? by Stem Mayhem

Science experiments for kids

Looking for more fun (and simple) science experiments to do with your little ones? Check out these super fun science experiments!

Elke Crosson
Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations with a minor in Spanish at UBC (Okanagan). She is currently in her second year of the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with dreams of becoming an elementary-level teacher.

Articles: 75