Kool-Aid® Powder Chemistry

    Kids, can you make a fizzy reaction without using vinegar?  Yes you can!  There are many experiments where the trick is to mix baking soda with vinegar, creating carbon dioxide fizzy gas and water.  But if you don't happen to have vinegar around, here is another way to, for example, make that science fair volcano work.

    Please note:  All chemicals and experiments can entail an element of risk, and no experiments should be performed without proper adult supervision.

    All you need are some Kool-Aid packets in a variety of colors (the kind you have to add sugar to drink), baking soda, a cookie sheet or shallow plastic tray, and either a small bowl of water with some medicine droppers, or a spray bottle with water (not vinegar!).  This is a very inexpensive experiment and is fun for kids of all ages.

    Sprinkle the Kool-Aid powder onto a cookie sheet. You can add different flavors in separate lines or mix them all over the sheet at your preference. Cover most of the Kool-Aid with a very thin layer of baking soda. Leave one line (or one area) of the Kool-Aid plain, without the baking soda.  You could use a mesh strainer over the tray and to sprinkle the baking soda evenly. Add water first to the plain Kool-Aid.  What happens? 

    Then add water to the baking-soda-covered Kool-Aid.  What happens?   The citric acid in the Kool-Aid powder reacts with baking soda (a base) when you add water.  They do not react with water individually, but they react with each other when dissolved in water.  When they react with each other they form sodium citrate, carbon dioxide and water. The end result is wonderful smelling, vibrantly colored bubbles!

    This activity can get pretty messy, obviously. You should be in play clothes and if you’re doing this activity inside, cover your floor with a splat mat, towel, cheap plastic tablecloth, etc. Some people prefer these fun, bubbly experiments over the traditional baking soda and vinegar activities because the Kool-Aid smells so much better than the vinegar.