Learn how to inflate a balloon using commonly used kitchen ingredients. The balloon, which is inflated in this way, is filled with carbon dioxide produced by the two reacting materials. These materials do not contain helium, so the balloon will not float.
Part 1 of 2: Developing Balloons
Step 1. Pour some vinegar into a plastic bottle
Choose a plastic water bottle, or another bottle with a narrow neck. Pour 2.5 – 5 cm of vinegar into the bottle, using a funnel if you have one. Use white vinegar, also called distilled vinegar, for best results.
- You can try it with any type of vinegar, but the ballooning process may take longer or more vinegar. In addition, other types of vinegar tend to be more expensive.
- Vinegar can damage metal containers, potentially adding an unpleasant taste to food and drinks stored in those containers. If you don't have a plastic bottle, use a high-quality stainless steel bottle to minimize the chances of this happening. Reducing the effect of the vinegar with an equal amount of water may also help, and won't prevent the balloon from inflating.
Step 2. Use a funnel or straw to inflate the baking soda into the uninflated balloon
You can use any balloon shape and color. Hold the neck loosely, with the open side of the balloon facing you. Insert a funnel into the neck of the balloon if you have one, then pour about two tablespoons (30 mL) of baking soda into the balloon, or just fill the balloon about halfway.
If you don't have a funnel, you can place a plastic straw into a stack of baking soda, place your finger over the hole, then extend the straw into the balloon and lift your finger. Tap the straw to remove the baking soda, and repeat until 1/3 of the balloon is at least filled with baking soda
Step 3. Extend the neck of the balloon over the bottle
Be careful not to spill the baking soda while you do this. Hold the neck of the balloon with both hands and stretch it over the plastic bottle filled with vinegar. Ask a friend to keep the bottle still if the table or bottle wobbles.
Step 4. Lift the balloon to the top of the bottle and watch the reaction
The baking soda will come out of the balloon, through the neck of the bottle, and into the vinegar at the bottom. Here, the two chemicals will make a hissing sound and react, turning into another chemical. One is carbon dioxide, a gas, which will rise and inflate the balloon.
Shake the bottle gently to mix the two ingredients if the hissing sound isn't too loud
Step 5. If that doesn't work, try again with more vinegar or baking soda
If the hissing sound has stopped and the balloon is still not inflated after you count to 100, empty the bottle, and try again with more vinegar and baking soda. The ingredients left in the bottles have turned into other chemicals, mostly water, making them unusable.
Do not exaggerate. The bottle should not contain more than 1/3 of the vinegar
Part 2 of 2: How It Works
Step 1. Understand chemical reactions
Almost everything around you is made up of molecules, or different kinds of substances. Often, two types of molecules react with each other, splitting and forming molecules that are different from the fragments.
Step 2. Learn about baking soda and vinegar
The reactants, or substances that react with each other in the fizzing reaction you see, are baking soda and vinegar. Unlike many ingredients in your kitchen, these two are simple chemicals, not complicated mixtures of many chemicals:
- Baking soda is another name for the sodium bicarbonate molecule.
- White vinegar is a mixture of acetic acid and water. Only acetic acid reacts with baking soda.
Step 3. Read about reactions
Baking soda is a type of substance called language. Vinegar, or acetic acid, is a type of substance called sour. Bases and acids react with each other, some of which break down and form different substances. This is described as neutralization because the end product is neither alkaline nor acidic. In this case, the new substances are water, a type of salt, and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, a gas, leaves the liquid mixture and spreads throughout the bottle and balloon, causing it to expand.
Although the definitions of acids and bases can be tricky, you can compare the differences between the initial substances and their neutralization results to see if there are any obvious changes. For example, vinegar has a strong odor and can be used to dissolve dust and dirt. Once mixed with baking soda, the smell is not as strong as before and is not as effective as water when used for cleaning
Step 4. Learn chemical formulas
If you are familiar with chemistry, or want to know how scientists describe reactions, the formula below describes the reaction between sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3 and acetic acid H C2H3O2(aq)NaC2H3O2. Can you figure out how each molecule breaks down and re-forms?
- NaHCO3(aq) + HC2H3O2(aq) → NaC2H3O2(aq) + H2O(l) + CO2(g)
- The letters in parentheses indicate the state of the chemical substance during and after the reaction: (g)as, (l)iquid / liquid, or (aq)ueous / solution. Aqueous means a chemical dissolved in water.