How to make an exploding volcano !

Volcanoes are formed when magma from within the Earth’s upper mantle works its way to the surface. At the surface, it erupts to form lava flows and ash deposits. Over time as the volcano continues to erupt, it will get bigger and bigger.  Watch your kids squeal with delight with this exploding volcano experiment.  Then head over to our fun facts page for amazing facts about volcanoes. 



  • 1  Empty plastic bottle without lid
  • 1 Newspaper torn up in strips
  • Masking tape
  • bicarbonate soda
  • Food colouring (red, yellow or orange )
  • Vinegar
  • Cardboard
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Paper cup
  • Paint to paint the volcano – for the rocks (grey), vegetation (green) and lava (red) or whatever colours you wish


  1. Place the soda bottle upright in the center of a square piece of cardboard that measures about 2 feet by 2 feet.

  2. Secure the bottle in place using the masking tape.

  3. Use strips of cardboard to form the mountain by taping one end of a strip to the top of the bottle and the other end to the cardboard base so each strip descends out at an angle. They should overlap to form a sturdy form to support the paper mache. The shape should resemble a volcano. Do not cover the opening of the bottle at the top of the form; you’ll need it later for the eruption.

  4. Mix up a paper mache paste with flour and water.

  5. Tear the newspaper into strips about 1- to 2-inches wide. The length can vary according to your project.

  6. Saturate one strip of newspaper by dipping it into the paste. 

  7. Stick the newspaper strip over the form and smooth it with your fingers.

  8. Repeat the saturate and paste process with all the newspaper it takes to completely cover the form. The strips should overlap and run in different directions. Leave the opening of the bottle at the top of the volcano uncovered.

  9. After one layer of paper strips is applied, wait 24 hours for the paste to dry.

  10. Apply a second (or third) layer of paper strips until you achieve the volcano shape you like. Let the project dry for 24 hours after each additional layer of strips and paste.

  11. When the newspaper is completely dry, paint the volcano. Choose whatever colors you like and give it as much detail as you want. Use brown or gray for the rocks, green for vegetation and, of course, red for lava flowing from the top. 

  12. Place the volcano on a sturdy surface.

  13. Measure 1 tablespoon of warm water into the volcano crater (the soda bottle). 

  14. Add 3 to 4 drops of dishwashing detergent

  15. Add 3 to 4 drops of red food coloring

  16. Add the baking soda and stir with a narrow utensil or stick.

  17. Pour some vinegar into the small, paper cup so the cup is about 1/3 full.

  18. Quickly pour the vinegar into the volcano crater, step back, and watch the volcano’s bubbly eruption!