Chemical reactions are constantly occurring within our bodies as well as the world around us. Without chemical reactions, we would not function.  

But what are they? How do we explain what they are? And how do we show what they do? 

Not all reactions are whizz-bang type explosions as we might assume however, this sort of experiment is probably the best way to demonstrate what happens during a chemical reaction as it’s the most visible and tangible. These are the ooooh and ahhhhhhh fireworks of science. They are the ones that capture our attention and pull us deeper into this exiting and life changing world that we live in.


At Adventure Science, we have been busy experimenting with carbon dioxide and the different reactions and results that can be created. Carbon Dioxide is a gas and is the main waste product of our very own respiration reaction.

Respiration is the process of producing energy in the body. In more scientific terms, this is where oxygen and glucose combine to produce carbon dioxide, water and energy OR:

C6H12O6 + 6O2 = 6CO2 + 6H2O + ATP(energy) 



Our experiment involves mixing Acetic Acid with Sodium Bicarbonate or more commonly known as vinegar (yes, the stuff we put on our chips!) and bicarbonate of soda (the stuff we put in cakes!)

Acetic Acid (vinegar): is made up of 2 molecules of carbon linked with 4 molecules of hydrogen and 2 molecules of oxygen OR: C2H4O2

Sodium Bicarbonate (Bicarbonate of soda) – is made up of 1 molecule of sodium, hydrogen and carbon linked with 3 oxygen molecules OR:  aNaHCO3 

When both these chemicals react together (with a little bit of heat to get things going) – they create a new chemical make up that consists of water, carbon dioxide and a product called sodium acetate.


The entire equation is :

Acetic acid + Sodium Bicarbonate => Water + Carbon Dioxide + Sodium acetate


C2H4O2 + NaHCO3 => NaC3H3O2 + H2O + CO2


For those keen eye observers – you can see that all of the molecules react together and none are wasted. Each individual part is included from the original products only that they exist in different forms.


Therefore we can say that:

A chemical reaction is when two or more substances combine to form different substance that has different separate structures.”


Why did we chose this experiment? Simple really… One of the greatest adventures in history and a true example of Adventure Science in action is the journey to the moon.

We can apply the above chemical reaction using everyday products and re-create our very own rocket!



What we need?

Large empty bottle (e.g. fizzy drink 2 litre plastic bottle)

3-4 Pencils (similar length) and sticky tape for legs of rocket

Bicarbonate of soda – 2 teaspoons wrapped in kitchen roll or toilet tissue

50ml of vinegar

50ml of warm water

Cork wrapped in kitchen-roll for the bung (designed to slip out under pressure and when soaked)


What We Do? 

Design your bottle. Decorate or keep It simple – up to you!

Build your legs by taping the pencils around the bottom of the bottle evenly ensuring the bottle is pointing straight upwards with a gap of around 10cm between the bottom of the bottle and the ground.

Mix the warm water with the vinegar and pour into the bottle

Add the bicarbonate of soda wrapped in the tissue to the bottle

Push the bung into the top of the bottle (where the lid would normally be)

Retreat to safe distance (minimum 50 meteres) and wait for blast off



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                          TA – DAH!!



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