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How to Make a Pumpkin Volcano

My 2-year-old son is a little too young to carve or paint his own pumpkin this year, so creating a “pump-cano” was the perfect fall fun activity for him.

This is an entertaining and simple activity for children of all ages and a great way to extend Halloween celebrations during the first week of November with leftover jack-o’-lanterns. It’s also a great time to remind kids that pumpkins are plants that grow as a vine. Along with squash and cucumbers, pumpkins are part of the plant family Cucurbita.

What you will need:

  • A small pumpkin
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Red food coloring
  • Dishwashing liquid soap

Supplies all laid out, ready for an explosion!


What to do:

  1. Remove the top of the pumpkin and hollow it out by removing all of the seeds and loose pulp. Carve a face or other design if you like.
  2. Place the pumpkin on a tray or protected surface because this is going to get messy.
  3. Pour about ½ cup of baking soda inside the pumpkin.
  4. Squirt some dish soap over the baking soda.
  5. Add a few drops of food coloring to a cup of vinegar.
  6. When you are ready, pour the colored vinegar into the pumpkin and enjoy the show.

 You can repeat this as many times as you like.

Pumpkin volcano

First pour in the baking soda

Pumpkin volcano

Then slowly add the dishwashing soap

Pumpkin volcano

Red food coloring goes in next

Pumpkin volcano



What is happening:

This is an acid/base chemical reaction. The vinegar is acidic and the baking soda is alkaline, also called a “base.” Whenever you combine an acid and a base, the reaction produces a salt and water. In the case of baking soda and vinegar, there is a second reaction that produces carbon dioxide gas. This reaction causes the soapy mixture to bubble over, resulting in a satisfying lava simulation.

While “salt and water” sounds like a harmless product of this reaction, use good judgment and never take the risk of consuming your science projects.