Little Baking Soda Rockets

Easy to make "rockets" powered by baking soda and vinegar

Category: Science Time frame: half an hour
Age: Where:
Level: easy What you need: everyday objects
Keywords: physics, chemistry, rocket, baking soda, vinegar
Article written by Simon

What you need:

Open the film canister, put a teaspoon full of baking soda in. Then add a teaspoon full of vinegar and quickly put the lid on the canister (tight!). Shake the canister a few times and put it cap side down on a flat surface. Quickly step back a couple of yards. After a few moments the lid will pop off and your canister rocket will launch into space! Well, maybe not exactly space, but maybe 10 feet or so...

Caution: Vinegar will splash around, so step back far enough quickly! And you probably should not try this indoors...

So what happens here? Here comes the educational part...

The baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) reacts with the vinegar (with the contained acetic acid to be exact) producing carbon dioxide (among others). The carbon dioxide (CO2) usually makes cakes to rise, but here it builds up the pressure inside the film canister. When the pressure is high enough the lid pops off and the soda/vinegar mixture shoots out of the canister. Like in a real rocket the recoil accelerates the canister in the opposite direction, launching it into the air!