How to Build a Volcano

Making a volcano is a popular school project used for many science classes. It gives you the opportunity to be creative while understanding the dynamics, processes and concepts of a live volcano. Especially when we can’t get the chance to witness the real ones directly, this gives us the chance to explore a fun aspect of science, that a lot of times is perceived to be complicated. A simple figure can draw us closer to understanding. Follow this step-by-step article and build your very own hand-made miniature volcano.

Tools required

  • Bowl
  • Baking dish/tin

Materials required

  • Plywood or cardboard
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Flour
  • Oil
  • Red or orange food colouring
  • Water


  1. Start by putting 6 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, four tablespoons of cooking oil and water into a bowl and make the dough until it becomes smooth but firm. Don’t make the dough too runny as it will be used to form the volcano mountain.
  2. Use plywood or cardboard as the base for your volcano project. The base should be much wider than the projected volcano.
  3. Take a soda bottle or a canned tin and place it upright in the centre of the baking dish/tin. Then place the dough around the bottle and sculpt the dough tightly around it with your hands into a mountain shape so that it doesn’t cover the opening.
  4. After creating the volcano, you can place the volcano either into the oven to bake or into the sun so it can be hardened. When it hardens place the volcano on the wooden base or cardboard for presentation.
  5. Paint the volcano with spray paint or acrylic, after it is completely dry. To give it a realistic look and feel you can also use miniature plastic trees and aquarium plants, for the paint use brown and green colours, to complement. After the paint dries, spray clear sealant.
  6. Pour six drops of dishwashing soap, baking soda, salt, water and red or orange food colouring into the volcano opening. When it is time to present the project pour some of the vinegar in the volcano, stand back and watch it erupt. You can apply more depending on how enormous you would like the eruption.

Tips and Warning

  • Instead of making dough from flour, you can buy play dough or other readymade dough from your local store. This alternative can be more expensive but more time-saving.
  • The eruption is caused by the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar, which produces carbon dioxide which is actually present in real volcanos. The red/orange food colouring replicates the lava. Even yellow and purple can be applied to provide a brighter exhibition.
  • You can make the volcano bigger depending on the type of project you’re attempting to make.
  • The volcano probably takes about 30 – 45 minutes to make from start to finish.
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