Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda Rocket Failure

This post was originally posted on my Crud Dad blog on 3rd September 2017

Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda explosion

One of the activities my daughter and I both get a kick out of is science experiments.  Sometimes we try simple experiments to satisfy her curiosity.  What happens if you pour hot water on ice.  What happens to the surface of oily washing up water when you put drops of detergent on it.  That sort of thing.  But sometimes we get a bit more adventurous.

The fun thing about experiments is that even if we know the outcome we still have a good time working towards the outcome.  If an experiment involves creating a certain amount of mess or chaos then there's a good chance we'll want to do the experiment over and over again.  In the interests of science of course.

Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda experiments

The first experiment that made a big impression involved mixing vinegar and bicarbonate of soda together in a bottle to make a volcano.  It's our 'go to' science experiment.  Usually while we've got the house to ourselves.  Things can get creatively messy.  We've evolved the vinegar volcano to include washing up liquid (for more bubbles), food colouring (for more colour) and sometimes glitter (because glitter is cool).  The mess is usually reasonably easy to clean up.  Apart from the glitter.  Spread glitter around for a few minutes (by any means) and you'll be finding it for months.

Taking Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda to the next level

While we were generally satisfied with our message volcanos we wanted to take things to the next level.  That's when we were led astray by YouTube.  We found a video showing us how we could use Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda to make a rocket!  How could we resist!  Because our garden is quite small, and we were expecting our rocket to go high enough to trouble light aircraft, we decided to conduct this new experiment at the allotment.

Being sharing, caring types me and the girl decided to film our rocket experiment so others could join in the fun.  The first rocket sort of exploded in my hand.  The second failed entirely.  The results were so disappointing that my daughter decided that to liven up our spirits we would 'do a volcano'.  Instead of using a drinks bottle we decided to make our volcano inside an empty HP sauce bottle.  Why?  There was an empty HP bottle on the draining board at home.  Sometimes genius is inspired by what is around us.  It's such a fine line between clever and stupid.

It turns out that the small hole on the top of a HP sauce bottle is a problem when there's a violent reaction between Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda happening.  This small hole, normally so useful for dispensing HP sauce might tend to cause a bit of an explosion.  Whilst the explosion might not be the type to cause physical harm, it will be the type to liberally coat you, your screaming daughter and all your camera equipment with stinky foam.

Getting sprayed with stinky vinegar foam led to my daughter bowing out of any further experimentation.  But I still had some of the raw ingredients to spare so decided to carry on with one more HP Sauce bottle explosion.  The girl gave me her best wishes and retired to a safe distance.  It was about this time some of our allotment friends arrived on the scene.  The pressure was on for a bit finale.  Watch the video below to find out what happened.

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