Back to Blog
STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Carbonation Chemistry

Many of our favorite beverages have something in common – bubbles! The fizzy, tangy taste we experience when sipping on sodas and seltzer water is due to carbonation, the addition of carbon dioxide gas to drinks.

Celebrate National Carbonation Day on Nov. 9 by experimenting with your own sparkling mixture! Watch carbonation occur in real time as you experiment with different liquids and baking soda to explore the gas in soda and other bubbly drinks!


Materials Needed:

  • Baking soda
  • Balloons (3)
  • Funnel
  • Lemon juice
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • Teaspoon (for measuring)
  • Water
  • Water bottles (3, empty)
  • Vinegar


Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Write down your prediction of which liquid you think will react with the baking soda to make carbon dioxide (bubbles):
    • Water
    • Vinegar
    • Lemon juice
  2. Fill your empty water bottles ­ one ¼ full of water, one ¼ full of vinegar and one ¼ full of lemon juice — and label each one.
  3. Place the funnel in the neck of one of your balloons and drop in one teaspoon of baking soda. Repeat this step with the other two balloons.
  4. Being careful not to drop the baking soda in yet, place one balloon on each of the three bottles by stretching the open end around the bottle's neck.
  5. Gently lift the balloon attached to the bottle filled with water, dropping all the baking soda into the liquid, then write down your observations.
  6. Repeat this process with your vinegar and lemon juice bottles.
  7. Take your experiment to the next level by adding different baking soda or liquid amounts to see what happens!


What Are We Discovering?

This experiment is an example of a chemical reaction. All three liquids activate baking soda, making carbon dioxide. While you may have noticed a reaction in all three bottles, the intensity varied in each one. Baking soda mixed with water produced only a tiny amount of carbon dioxide, but with vinegar and lemon juice, there was enough to inflate your balloons!

The bubbles you saw during the experiment are the same kind that are in soda. Carbonation not only adds fun bubbles, but it also prevents beverages from spoiling.

Carbon dioxide, while adding a unique taste and sensation to drinks, historically has many other uses as well! National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee C. Kumar N. Patel invented the carbon dioxide laser, which can cut various materials like metal, ceramics and plastic.


Keep the Fun and Learning Going!

For more hands-on STEM fun delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our emails.

Related Articles