|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
I assume you are making a vinegar volcano by combining vinegar and baking soda (or baking powder). Vinegar is also known as acetic acid and its chemical formula is CH3COOH. Baking soda is composed of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Acetic acid (vinegar) is a member of the chemical compounds called acids while sodium bicarbonate is a base. When you combine acids and bases together they react and neutralize each other.
The way a chemist writes this reactions is:
NaHCO3 + CH3COOH --> H2O + Na+(aq) + CH3COO-(aq) + CO2
Basically, all this means is that the acid and base react to form new compounds. These products are everything on the right hand side of the arrow. H2O is just water and the sodium ion (Na+) and acetate ion (CH3COO-) stay dissolved in the water (which is what the (aq) means). CO2, the other product, is carbon dioxide gas. This gas forms the bubbles that make the mixture foam and fizz.
This experiment is described on the MadSci web site here:
Baking powder volcano
If you want a foamier volcano, you can add a few drops of dishwashing soap. The soap helps the bubbles to last longer.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Chemistry.