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.


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Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

One of the most valuable (pun intended) things you can teach your child is how to responsibly manage money.  Of course parents teach by example from the day their kids are born, but there will also come a time when we need to begin teaching them certain principles that they will use for the rest of their lives.  Listed below are several simple principles that will be a huge help for your child.

Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

  1. Show them that everything we receive in this life is a gift that comes from God, and we must look to him for all of our needs.  We teach them to be at peace in their heart and minds by helping them to understand submitting to his authority where money is concerned.  
  2. A perfect first subject to teach would be the simple principle of tithing 10% first, saving 10% second, and living within the remaining 80%.  As your children become more familiar with this concept, encourage them to increase the tithe and savings amounts as their self-discipline increases.
  3. Budgeting.  Teach your child how to budget, and you will also be teaching them how to plan ahead.  A valuable principle in every area of their lives, this will help them greatly.  As Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  When your children start getting older, give them a chance to open their own checking accounts, budget their own money, and absolutely to make their own mistakes.
  4. A penny saved is a penny earned.  Kids need to learn to save for three things: purchases, an emergency fund, and wealth-building.  Saving for purchases is my favorite, and also the easiest! The other two are just as important though.  For teens, $500 for the emergency fund might be a good start, as this will cover things like car repairs or any unexpected purchases.  By having this emergency fund, they’ll learn to start being independent rather than relying on you whenever an emergency hits.  It’s a win-win!  And of course your kid doesn’t have to be a stock market guru, but if you can help them understand the power of compound interest, you’ll be setting them up with financial success for the rest of their lives.  
  5.  Give, give, & give again.  One lesson that was pounded into my head as a child was “for heaven’s sake, can you just SHARE already?” While it may have been frustrating for my parents at the time, they really instilled the important value of giving into my life. Giving is so powerful because it not only changes the recipient, but the giver as well.  This is one principle that is important for your children to see modeled by you.  When your children see the positive consequences shine in your life, it’ll drive the lesson home.
  6. Be wary of debt.  As a teenager, your child will soon face the temptations of credit cards and student loans.  They’ll hear a lot of things as they head off to college like: “Normal is broke.”  “Car payments are just a part of life.”  “You can’t live without a credit score.” and my personal favorite “It’s not even possible to live without debt.”  Absolutely NONE of these are true, and it’s best to help them understand this before they step out into adulthood.  


Remember that more is caught than taught!  It’ll stick in their heads better to see you living out these principles in your own life rather than just giving them lectures here and there.  You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to money (no one is), but you do need to make sure you’re being a strong example or none of what you say will stick!  Also, be honest with your kids about financial mistakes you’ve made.  Allow them to learn from your mistakes!  By teaching your children these essential financial principles, you’ll have given them confidence and a hand-up in life.

Don’t forget to check out our selection of toys and products that are great resources for teaching kids financial principles.  We believe it’s never too early to teach youngsters about money, finance, and even investing.  While play money may seem just like another toy, it can be used to teach kids about finances, saving, and math. In our minds, that’s a toy with some real value!