How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Combine a few common kitchen ingredients and watch them inflate a balloon without your help!  This fun hands-on experiment is a great way to learn about chemical reactions and encourage a love for science in your child.  The two combined ingredients create carbon dioxide, which is what inflates the balloon.  The balloon doesn’t contain helium, so it won’t float.

How to Inflate a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Step 1: Pour a little vinegar into a plastic bottle. Choose a plastic water bottle, or another bottle with a narrow neck. Pour 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) of vinegar into the bottle, using a funnel if you have one. Use white vinegar, also called distilled vinegar, for the best result.

  • You can try this with any kind of vinegar, but the inflation might take longer or require more vinegar to work. Other types of vinegar tend to be more expensive as well.
  • Vinegar can damage metal containers, potentially adding an unpleasant taste to food and drink stored in that container. If you have no plastic bottles, use a high-quality stainless steel bottle to minimize the chance of this happening. Weakening the vinegar with an equal amount of water might also help, and won’t prevent the balloon from inflating.

How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Step 2: Use a funnel or straw to put a little baking soda into a limp balloon. You can use any shape and color of balloon. Hold it loosely by the neck, with the open side of the balloon facing towards you. Fit a funnel into the neck if you have one, then pour about two tablespoons (30 mL) baking soda into the balloon, or just fill the balloon about halfway full.

  • If you don’t have a funnel, you can place a plastic straw into a pile of baking soda, put your finger over the top hole of the straw, then poke the straw into the balloon and lift your finger. Tap the straw to get the baking soda to fall out, and repeat until the balloon is at least 1/3 of the way full.

How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Step 3: Stretch the neck of the balloon over the top of the bottle. Be careful not to spill the baking soda while you do this. Hold the balloon’s neck with both hands and stretch it over the top of the plastic bottle containing vinegar. Have a friend keep the bottle steady if the table or bottle is wobbly.

How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Step 4: Lift the balloon up over the bottle and watch the reaction. The baking soda should fall out of the balloon, through the neck of the bottle, and into the vinegar at the bottom. Here, the two chemicals will fizz and react, turning into other chemicals. One of these is carbon dioxide, a gas, which will rise up and inflate the balloon.

  • Shake the bottle gently to mix the two ingredients if there’s not much fizzing.

How to Blow up a Balloon with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Step 5: If it doesn’t work, try again with more vinegar or baking soda. If the fizzing has stopped and the balloon still hasn’t inflated after you count to 100, empty out the bottle and try again with more vinegar and baking soda. The stuff left in the bottle has turned into other chemicals, mostly water, so it can’t be used again.

  • Don’t go overboard. The bottle should never be more than about 1/3 full of vinegar.

 

How does this work?

How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Just about everything around you is composed of molecules.  Often, when two different molecules react with each other, they break up and form entirely new molecules from the pieces.

How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Learn about baking soda and vinegar. The reactants, or substances that reacted with each other in the fizzy reaction you saw, are baking soda and vinegar. Unlike many ingredients in your kitchen, both of these are simple chemicals, not complicated mixtures of many chemicals:

  • Baking soda is another word for the molecule sodium bicarbonate.
  • White vinegar is a mixture of acetic acid and water. Only the acetic acid reacts with the baking soda.

How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Read about the reaction. Baking soda is a type of substance called a base. Vinegar, or acetic acid, is a type of substance called an acid. Bases and acids react with each other, partially breaking apart and forming different substances. This is described as “neutralization” because the end result is neither a base nor an acid. In this case, the new substances are water, a kind of salt, and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, a gas, leaves the liquid mixture and expands throughout the bottle and the balloon, inflating it.

  • Although the definition of acid and base can get complicated, you can compare the differences between the original substances and the “neutralized” result to see there are obvious changes. For instance, vinegar has a strong smell and can be used to dissolve grime and dirt. After being mixed with baking soda, it smells much less strongly and is no more effective at cleaning than water is.

How to Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Study the chemical formula. If you’re familiar with some chemistry, or curious about how scientists describe reactions, the formula below describes the reaction between sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3 and acetic acid H C2H3O2(aq)NaC2H3O2. Can you figure out how each molecule splits apart and reforms?

  • NaHCO3(aq) + HC2H3O2(aq) → NaC2H3O2(aq) + H2O(l) + CO2(g)
  • The letters in parentheses show the state the chemicals are in during and after the reaction: (g)as, (l)iquid, or (aq)ueous. “Aqueous” means the chemical is dissolved in water.

If you enjoyed this experiment and are looking for more great hands-on learning, click the links to check out our other science experiments, science kits, learning & discovery kits, and homeschool resources.

 

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How To Blow up a Balloon With Baking Soda and Vinegar.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Looking for a science project for your homeschooled kids, or just something fun and educational for your kids to do?  This activity is sure to spark a bit of curiosity in your child, as it gives them the chance to play weather forecaster.  Predicting the weather may seem a bit like magic, but after a couple weeks of checking their barometer, they’ll have a much better understanding of how this can be done!

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 1: Gather the things you’ll need. These consist of: Scissors, tape, a balloon, a jar, an elastic rubber band, a straw.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 2: Blow up the balloon carefully and then let the air out of it again. (This is to stretch it.)

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 3: Cut the balloon in half. Discard the piece with the neck on it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 4: Take the remaining piece of the balloon and stretch it across the glass or jar.Keep it stretched firmly across and seal it down with the rubber band, around the rim of the glass jar. To make an airtight seal, avoid gaps between the balloon and the glass.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 5: Tape the straw onto the balloon lid; the straw should be sitting one quarter of a way on the lid, with the tape about 2 cm or 1 inch from the edge of the straw end that is sitting on the balloon lid. The straw is your indicator “needle”. Trim the straw if it’s too long, but leave more length off the jar as what is attached to it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 6: Put the finished glass jar next to a wall and tape a piece of paper or card to the wall behind it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 7: Mark the current position of the straw on the paper, and mark one above and below the mark, about the same length away, and label the high and low pressure. Arrange the paper so there is room above and below the straw for you to make more marks when the straw moves.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 8: Check the straw regularly and keep marking its location on the paper for a few days. Add notes that tell you what the weather is like (for example, “rainy,” “windy,” or “sunny,”) next to the mark.

  • Examine the paper after several days. Check the markings and the weather statements you’ve put next to them. What do you notice? Can you tell if and when the weather is about to change? See “Tips” for the answers.

Q&A

  • Does the barometer have to be outside?  Yes, it is very important to leave the barometer outside so that it can record more effectively.
  • What can a barometer indicate about the weather?  A barometer can only measure air pressure, giving an indication of the expected weather during the following 24 hours. Simply put, high pressure is likely to drive rain bearing clouds away, low pressure will likely let it in, leading to precipitation (rain).
  • Why do we blow up the balloon before using it?  To stretch it out. If you just pull the two ends, you can rip it and you will have to get a new one.

Tips:

  • As the straw moves up with higher air pressure, the days should be sunnier. As the straw lowers, the skies may be looking gray and you should expect cloudy or rainy weather on the way.
  • When you fitted the balloon over the glass, you captured air under a certain pressure. The balloon now indicates changes in the atmospheric pressure, that is, the pressure of the air around you. Higher air pressure pushes the balloon into the jar and makes the straw go up. Conversely, the air inside the jar expands against lower pressure and will bulge the balloon, moving the straw down. The straw makes it easier to see the motions of the balloon.
  • Also notice that the straw moves up or down just before a weather change since a change in weather typically coincides with a change in the atmospheric pressure.
  • Try to take each reading at the same temperature, since air expands when heated and contracts when cooled, which would also move the straw-indicator.
  • Check your results against the pressure from weather reports for your area. If you didn’t do it correctly, keep trying until you get it right.
  • Try this over a longer period of time if you’re having a week of rain or a week of sunshine. Try to choose the seasons likely to bring the most changes during a short period of time in your part of the world.
  • This is a delicate item. Place it away from foot traffic and daily activity.
  • Don’t leave the balloon in direct sunlight; this will wear it out and can affect the experiment.
  • Make sure there are no gaps or air holes in the balloon during the experiment; this will affect the outcome.

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.