Baking Soda Popper

The lovely Mummy Barrow recently sent me a link to a fab YouTube video of Steve Spangler  popping film canisters on the Ellen show. I had been intending to pick up some canisters on my next shopping trip, but yesterday spotted a little effervescent tablet container. I didn’t want to waste the tablets, and didn’t have any alka seltzer, so decided to try some baking soda and vinegar instead.


Baking soda popper

What you need

  • A container with a lid
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Kitchen Roll

I added about a cm of vinegar to the bottom of the canister, dropped in a little baking soda, put on the lid and stepped back. The top flew off almost immediately.

To try and slow the reaction down I wrapped the baking soda in a small piece of kitchen towel, which gave me enough time to put the canister down and grab a camera.

What do you think?

Can you try turning the canister upside down and popping the canister rather than the lid?

Baking soda popper

The Science

Baking Soda is alkaline and reacts with acids like vinegar, releasing carbon dioxide ( a gas ) and water. The carbon dioxide gas builds up behind the lid of the canister.  The gas has nowhere to go and is constantly being released by the reaction between vinegar and baking soda.  More and more bits of gas squeeze into the tube, jostling with each other.  The pressure builds and builds and suddenly the lid of the canister can’t take it any more and explodes off the main body.  The timing is fairly random so taking a good picture can be frustratingly hard – we had to resort to video.  Can you take a photo of the lid popping off? I’d love to see it if you can.


* Be very careful with this activity the top of the canister shoots off at speed. Make sure all little and big people are well out of the way.


There are 6 comments

  1. Mummy Barrow

    Oh how fabulous!!! I love this.

    I am going to keep suitable canisters from now on.

    Not so I can do it but so I can bring them all around to you for you to do it! I want to recreate the scene on the Ellen show where they did 2000 of them!

    So simple, but such fun.

    Thanks for having a go.

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