Have you ever wondered how a simple kitchen experiment can illuminate the fundamental principles of chemistry and physics? Our recent project in the world of science, involving nothing more than vinegar and baking soda, did just that!

Engaging Science Activities bring to life fascinating phenomena, just like the vinegar and baking soda experiment. This simple yet captivating reaction not only creates bubbling excitement but also demonstrates a real-life volcanic eruption model, revealing the dynamic nature of chemical interactions in an accessible, hands-on way.

The Experiment


Objective: The Vinegar Baking Soda Experiment serves as a classic yet profound demonstration in the realm of basic chemistry and physics, engaging learners in understanding the dynamic interaction between common household substances. At its core, the goal of this experiment is twofold. Firstly, it seeks to explore the chemical reaction that occurs when vinegar, an acetic acid solution, comes into contact with baking soda, and sodium bicarbonate. This interaction is more than just the fizz and froth it famously produces; it’s a gateway to comprehending acid-base reactions, a fundamental concept in chemistry. Secondly, and perhaps more intriguingly, this experiment aims to shed light on the properties of carbon dioxide – a gas that is a byproduct of this reaction. By observing the way this gas behaves, particularly in the context of extinguishing a candle flame, learners gain insights into its density, its role in fire suppression, and its broader implications in environmental science. The Vinegar Baking Soda Experiment, thus, transcends its simplicity by acting as a microcosm of larger scientific principles, making it an essential and accessible experiment for budding scientists.

Science Experiment with Vinegar and Baking Soda: Step-by-Step Guide

  • Gathering Materials:
      • Vinegar (Acetic Acid)
      • Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
      • A Transparent Container or Glass
      • A Candle
      • A Lighter or Matches
  • Setting Up the Experiment:
      • Place the candle in a safe, open area and light it. Ensure there’s nothing flammable nearby.
  • Mixing the Reactants:
      • In the transparent container, pour a measured amount of vinegar. This will serve as our acid.
  • Adding Baking Soda:
      • Carefully add a spoonful of baking soda to the vinegar. This is our base.
  • Observing the Reaction:
      • Watch as the mixture fizzes and bubbles, indicating the chemical reaction is occurring, producing carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Capturing Carbon Dioxide:
      • Notice how the CO2, being heavier than air, stays within the container.
  • Extinguishing the Flame:
    • Gently pour the invisible CO2 gas over the burning candle to extinguish the flame, illustrating CO2’s role in fire suppression.

This simple yet effective Science Experiment with Vinegar and Baking Soda not only demonstrates a chemical reaction but also provides practical insights into the properties of gasses and their interactions with fire.

Fiery Tale of Vinegar, Baking Soda, and a Candle

The Science Behind the Reaction

Chemical Reaction Activities, such as the interaction between vinegar and baking soda, offer a captivating insight into the world of chemistry. This particular reaction is an exemplary demonstration of an acid-base reaction, fundamental to understanding chemical processes. When vinegar, which is essentially a dilute solution of acetic acid, is mixed with baking soda, a base known as sodium bicarbonate, a dynamic reaction occurs. The acid and the base undergo a chemical process where they neutralize each other. The result of this neutralization is the formation of carbon dioxide (CO2), water, and a type of salt – sodium acetate. The fizzing and bubbling commonly observed in this experiment are due to the rapid formation and release of carbon dioxide gas, a phenomenon that adds an exciting visual element to the learning experience. These Chemical Reaction Activities not only demonstrate the principles of chemistry in a tangible way but also highlight the transformative power of chemical reactions in creating new substances from seemingly mundane materials. This type of hands-on experiment is crucial in sparking curiosity and fostering a deeper understanding of scientific principles among learners.

Engaging Science Activities often involve exploring the fundamentals of chemistry, and the reaction between vinegar and baking soda is a prime example of an acid-base reaction, one of the most fundamental concepts in the field. In this reaction, vinegar acts as the acid, containing acetic acid, while baking soda serves as the base, being a form of sodium bicarbonate. When these two substances are mixed, they undergo a chemical process characteristic of acid-base reactions – neutralization. This process occurs when the hydrogen ions (H+) from the acetic acid in vinegar react with the bicarbonate ions (HCO3-) in baking soda. The outcome of this neutralization reaction is the formation of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, water (H2O), and sodium acetate (a salt). The effervescent fizz and bubbles are visual proof of the carbon dioxide gas being released. This reaction is not only a staple in Engaging Science Activities for its simplicity and visual appeal, but it also provides an excellent practical demonstration of how acids and bases react to form entirely new substances, showcasing the transformative nature of chemical interactions.

Observations and Results

Science Experiment with Vinegar and Baking Soda: What Happens to the Candle Flame

  • Initial Reaction:
      • Upon mixing vinegar and baking soda, carbon dioxide (CO2) gas is rapidly produced.
  • Capturing the CO2:
      • The CO2, being denser than air, accumulates in the container used for the reaction.
  • Approaching the Flame:
      • When the container is carefully tilted towards the candle, the CO2 is poured out, like an invisible liquid, towards the flame.
  • Extinguishing the Flame:
      • As the CO2 gas comes in contact with the candle flame, the flame is extinguished almost immediately.
  • Underlying Science:
    • This happens because CO2 does not support combustion. It displaces the oxygen around the flame, removing the essential element that fire needs to burn.

This aspect of the Science Experiment with Vinegar and Baking Soda vividly demonstrates the properties of carbon dioxide, particularly in fire suppression, making it an engaging and educational experience.

Chemical Reaction Activities often reveal intriguing insights into basic scientific principles, as seen in the classic vinegar and baking soda experiment where a candle flame is extinguished by carbon dioxide. The underlying reason for the flame going out lies in the fundamental requirements of combustion. A flame needs three key elements to sustain itself: fuel, heat, and oxygen. Oxygen plays a critical role in this trio, as it is necessary for the chemical reaction of combustion to occur. When vinegar and baking soda react, they produce carbon dioxide, a gas heavier than air. As this carbon dioxide is poured over the candle flame, it blankets the flame and displaces the surrounding air, which contains the oxygen the flame needs to burn. Without sufficient oxygen, the combustion process is interrupted, and the flame is extinguished. This demonstration, a cornerstone among Chemical Reaction Activities, not only captivates attention with its dramatic outcome but also provides a clear and practical understanding of the crucial role oxygen plays in combustion and how gasses like carbon dioxide can alter the conditions necessary for fire to exist.

5 Key Takeaways from Our Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment

  • States of Matter – The experiment involving vinegar and baking soda elegantly demonstrates the conversion of solids and liquids into gas, showcasing a fundamental concept in chemistry: the change of states of matter.
  • Starting Materials – Solid and Liquid: Initially, the experiment begins with two distinct states of matter – the solid baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and the liquid vinegar (acetic acid solution). These represent the common states of matter we encounter in daily life.
  • Chemical Reaction – From Solid and Liquid to Gas: When these two substances are mixed, they undergo a chemical reaction. This reaction is not just a simple mixing but a transformation at the molecular level. The acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the sodium bicarbonate in the baking soda, leading to the formation of new substances.
  • Formation of Gas: One of the products of this reaction is carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas. This is observed as the fizzing and bubbling when the vinegar and baking soda are combined. What’s fascinating here is that neither the solid baking soda nor the liquid vinegar is gaseous, yet their reaction produces a gas. This demonstrates the concept of a chemical reaction leading to a change in the state of matter.
  • Visual and Physical Evidence: The bubbling effect is the physical and visual evidence of this state change. The bubbles are, in fact, carbon dioxide gas being released into the air. This gas is initially trapped within the liquid but eventually escapes into the atmosphere.
  • Implications in the Experiment: In the context of the experiment, where this gas is used to extinguish a candle, it also demonstrates how gasses can be captured and manipulated, further reinforcing the understanding of states of matter and their transformations.

Through this simple yet effective experiment, the abstract concept of state changes in matter is made tangible and understandable. It vividly illustrates how chemical reactions can lead to the transformation of solids and liquids into gasses, a fundamental principle in the study of matter.

  • Chemical Reactions

The vinegar and baking soda experiment is a classic demonstration of an acid-base reaction, highlighting the fascinating process of creating new substances from a chemical reaction. In this experiment, vinegar (acetic acid) represents the acid, and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) acts as the base. When these two substances are mixed, they engage in a chemical dance that is both simple and complex.

  • Nature of Acid and Base:
      • Acids are substances that can donate hydrogen ions (H+), while bases are substances that can accept these ions. Vinegar, containing acetic acid, readily releases hydrogen ions in a solution. Baking soda, being a base, has the capacity to accept these ions.
  • The Reaction Process:
      • When vinegar and baking soda mix, the hydrogen ions (H+) from the acetic acid react with the bicarbonate ions (HCO3-) from the baking soda. This interaction is a classic example of an acid-base neutralization reaction.
  • Creation of New Substances:
      • The reaction leads to the formation of carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and sodium acetate (a salt). The carbon dioxide is immediately noticeable as it creates fizzing and bubbling, indicating the formation of a gas. The water and sodium acetate are less obvious but are integral products of this reaction.
  • Transformation and Observation:
      • This experiment provides a clear and observable transformation of substances. The starting materials (vinegar and baking soda) are visibly different from the products (carbon dioxide, water, and salt). It’s a compelling demonstration of how chemical reactions can transform matter.
  • Educational Value:
    • Such acid-base reactions are foundational in chemistry and are pivotal in understanding how substances interact at a molecular level. This experiment serves as an excellent educational tool, demonstrating core chemical principles in a tangible and engaging manner.

By highlighting the acid-base nature of this reaction and the creation of new substances, the vinegar and baking soda experiment offers a vivid and accessible window into the world of chemistry, making it a staple in educational settings for exploring and understanding chemical reactions.

  • Properties of Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide (CO2), a key product of the vinegar and baking soda experiment, has two notable properties that are crucial in understanding its behavior and applications: its density relative to air and its inability to support combustion.

  • Density of CO2:
      • CO2 is significantly heavier than air. Air is a mixture of various gasses, primarily nitrogen and oxygen, which are lighter than carbon dioxide. This higher density causes CO2 to settle downwards when released into the atmosphere. In the context of our experiment, this property is visually demonstrated when the CO2, generated from the reaction, is poured over a candle. Instead of dispersing quickly into the surrounding air, it sinks and covers the flame.
  • CO2 and Combustion:
      • Combustion, or burning, is a chemical process that requires three components: a fuel source, heat, and an oxidizer (typically oxygen in air). CO2 does not support combustion because it does not act as an oxidizer like oxygen. In fact, it inhibits the combustion process. When CO2 is introduced to a burning flame, it displaces the oxygen around it. Without sufficient oxygen, the flame cannot continue the combustion process and thus is extinguished.
  • Practical Implications:
    • These properties of CO2 are not just interesting from a scientific perspective but also have practical implications. For example, CO2 is used in fire extinguishers precisely because of its density and its ability to smother fires by displacing oxygen. It blankets the fire, cutting off the supply of oxygen, and thus, quenching the flames.

In summary, the heavier-than-air property of CO2 and its role in inhibiting combustion are pivotal in understanding both the outcome of the vinegar and baking soda experiment and the broader applications of CO2 in fire safety and other industrial processes. These properties underscore the importance of CO2 in both natural and human-made environments, providing a clear example of how chemical properties can have significant practical applications.

Importance of Oxygen for Fire

The smothering of a flame due to the absence of oxygen is a fundamental concept in understanding how fires are extinguished. Oxygen is a crucial element in the process of combustion, which is essentially a chemical reaction. Here’s how the absence of oxygen leads to the extinguishing of a flame:

  • Combustion Process:
      • Combustion is a chemical reaction that occurs when a fuel (like candle wax) comes into contact with an oxidizer (typically oxygen in the air) at a high enough temperature. The reaction releases energy in the form of light and heat, which is observed as a flame.
  • Role of Oxygen:
      • Oxygen is a key reactant in the combustion process. It reacts with the fuel to produce heat, light, and combustion products like carbon dioxide and water vapor. Without sufficient oxygen, the chemical reactions that sustain the flame cannot proceed effectively.
  • Smothering Effect:
      • When oxygen is displaced or reduced around a flame, as happens when carbon dioxide from a reaction like the vinegar and baking soda experiment is introduced, the combustion process is disrupted. The carbon dioxide, being denser than air, blankets the flame and pushes the oxygen away from the fuel source.
  • Interruption of Combustion:
      • Since the oxygen is no longer available to sustain the combustion process, the flame is effectively “smothered”. This is similar to putting a lid on a burning candle; the lid traps the carbon dioxide produced by the flame and prevents fresh oxygen from reaching it, thereby extinguishing the flame.
  • Rapid Extinguishing:
    • In a controlled experiment where a significant amount of carbon dioxide is quickly introduced to a flame, the effect is immediate and dramatic. The flame goes out almost instantly as the oxygen necessary for it to burn is quickly displaced.

This principle is not just a fascinating scientific phenomenon but also has practical implications in fire safety. Understanding how the absence of oxygen can smother a flame is critical in designing effective fire suppression systems, including those that use carbon dioxide or other inert gasses to control and extinguish fires.

Real-World Applications

The simple experiment involving vinegar and baking soda, which leads to the production of carbon dioxide (CO2), offers insights into larger scientific concepts and practical applications, notably in fire extinguishing techniques and the carbonation of drinks.

  • Fire Extinguishing Techniques:
      • The experiment demonstrates the principle of using CO2 in fire suppression. Since CO2 is heavier than air and does not support combustion, it’s effective in extinguishing fires by displacing oxygen, as seen when the candle flame is snuffed out in the experiment. This principle is applied in CO2 fire extinguishers, commonly used to tackle electrical fires or fires involving flammable liquids. These extinguishers release CO2, creating a blanket of gas that cuts off the oxygen supply and stops the combustion process.
  • Carbonation in Drinks:
    • The fizz and bubbles produced in the experiment are physical manifestations of CO2 gas. This is similar to the carbonation process in beverages. In carbonated drinks, CO2 is dissolved under pressure into the liquid, forming carbonic acid. When the pressure is released, as in opening a bottle or can, the CO2 escapes, creating the familiar fizz. This experiment helps in understanding the concept of gasses dissolving in liquids and the factors that affect this process, such as temperature and pressure.

Through these connections, the vinegar and baking soda experiment transcends its simplicity, providing a window into understanding broader scientific concepts and their applications in everyday life. It highlights the interconnectedness of scientific principles across different domains, from chemical reactions to practical uses in technology and industry.


The Science Experiment with Vinegar and Baking Soda, a staple in Chemical Reaction Activities, beautifully encapsulates how simple experiments can uncover complex scientific principles. This hands-on activity not only demonstrates a fundamental chemical reaction but also bridges the gap between theoretical science and real-world applications. Through this experiment, we’ve seen the transformative nature of chemical reactions, the role of gases in combustion, and the principles behind fire suppression techniques and carbonation in drinks. These insights have profound implications in our daily lives, from understanding the workings of a fire extinguisher to appreciating the fizz in our favourite beverages.

Moreover, this experiment serves as a reminder of the endless curiosity and learning opportunities that lie in everyday materials. It encourages young minds to explore and question, laying a foundation for further scientific study and innovation. For those inspired by this experiment and seeking more resources to fuel their scientific exploration, a visit to Tapas Education can provide additional learning materials and ideas. Let’s keep nurturing our curiosity through simple yet enlightening experiments, recognizing that even the most basic reactions can unlock the doors to a vast world of science.

Join the Conversation: Share Your Science Stories!

Did the fizz and bubbles of the Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment spark your curiosity? Have you tried similar Chemical Reaction Activities at home or in the classroom? We’d love to hear about your scientific adventures! Whether it led to a surprising discovery, a learning moment, or simply a fun experience, your stories are a valuable part of the scientific community.

Don’t hesitate to share your experiences in the comments below. Did you modify the experiment? What were your observations? Every experiment has its own tale to tell.

And if you have questions or are seeking tips to further explore the intriguing world of science, feel free to ask. Our community of enthusiastic learners and educators is here to engage, help, and learn from each other.

Let’s keep the spirit of discovery alive! Your insights and inquiries are what make science a continually evolving and exciting journey. Share, learn, and inspire – because every reaction, big or small, adds to our collective understanding of the world around us. Dive into the conversation now!

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