After successfully making a lemon battery I suddenly found myself with a pile of lemons begging to be used in another epic science experiment. So what did we do? Build a lemon volcano! And because we had so many lemons, we were able to create something really beautiful incorporating all the colours of the rainbow. Check out this great way to use those lemons!
Lemon Volcano Experiment For Kids
My kids love any experiment that erupts. So when I proposed we use our lemon battery cells to create exploding lemons, they were excited!
First, exploding lemons is probably creating the wrong impression. This is not Fruit Ninja and no fruits actually explode. They do however erupt in a spectacular way. These yellow pieces of summer sunshine bubble over into a gorgeous lemon volcano.
Next, I have to say this is one of the most beautiful, amazing smelling, sensory rich science experiments. Just the visual play of the food colouring during the reactions was mesmerizing. Plus the whole time you are enveloped in the wondrous smell of fresh lemons. Now this is some gorgeous science!
Lemon Volcano Supplies
The best part of this science experiment is that is uses items you already have around the house.
Lemons! We used the 4 lemons from our lemon battery experiment.
Large dish (to catch all the eruption mess)
How To Make A Volcano Out Of A Lemon
Safety first! We are working with an acid. Use your best judgement on the capabilities of your children. Use gloves, safety goggles, aprons as needed, and always ensure kids do these experiments under responsible adult supervision.
The first thing we did was cut all of our lemons in half after rolling them. If you know anything about lemons, you know rolling them is important to get the juices flowing before you cut. In this experiment, the juices are critical, so we want our lemon nice and juicy. Simply roll it on the table with some pressure on it from your hand to start those lemon juices flowing.
Once they are cut in half, use a craft stick to poke into the flesh of the lemon and release those juices a little more.
Set your lemons on your large plate. If they won’t stand up, simply cut a flat part onto the bottom.
Add a few drops of food colouring. We really enjoyed mixing up our colours and creating a rainbow of volcanoes.
Next add a dribble of dish soap to each lemon.
Now is when the chemistry and science fun starts! Sprinkle the top of the lemon with a generous layer of baking soda. You will notice a little bit of reaction starts immediately.
But we want our lemon volcanoes to have epic eruptions!
So now we need to take our craft sticks and poke our lemons to really push the baking soda into the lemon and mix it with the lemon juice.
We have a lemon volcano eruption!
Video Of Erupting Lemon Volcano Science Experiment
Sometimes it is easier to watch the whole experiment first before tackling it yourself. So I had my trusty helper join me to create a video of our Lemon Volcano experiment.
Lemon Science – Why Does A Lemon Volcano Erupt?
So what makes our lemons explode with such awesomeness? It all comes down to one of our favourite chemistry reactions, the interaction between acids and bases which results in the release of CO2 gas (the bubbles). The dish soap helps capture the gas so we can see it as bubbles during the reaction.
In many of our experiments we use vinegar for our acid, but lemons work as well. Why? Because lemons are full of citric acid. That is what gives them that sour flavour. That acid reacts with baking soda (a basic) and gives us our big reactions.
Here is the chemical reaction taking place in our lemon volcano: H3C6H5O7 (aq) + 3NaHCO3 (s) → 3CO2 (g) + 3H2O (l) + Na3C6H5O7 (aq)
More Ways To Explore The Chemistry Behind Volcano Experiments
We have done entire experiments focused on exploring the acid-base chemical reaction. Kids love experiments that erupt and bubble. The spectacular results are sure to get all kids thrilled about chemistry.
There are a number of different science experiments for kids that will explore this chemical reaction. Here are some of our favourites. Simply click on the image for more details on each activity.
More Lemon Science Project Ideas
Once we were done with our lemon battery and lemon volcano experiments we started brainstorming even more ideas for what we could do with our lemons.
The first thought was to use our colourful lemons to create art. Simply scrap off most of the reaction leaving the colourful flesh of the lemons. Press the lemons onto a sheet of paper to create beautiful designs and patterns.
The boys also thought it would be fun to have a contest to see who could create the tallest reaction, or longest lasting reaction by manipulating the variables in our volcano science.
Another area might experiment with next time, is to use baking powder and see how the eruptions compare to those using baking soda. We have done comparisons between baking soda and baking powder in the past and found some interesting results. In many ways we preferred the reactions created using baking powder. So how would that change our lemon volcano science experiment? Sounds like a great science fair project!