The time between Halloween and New Years can be filled with wonderful family memories - or it can be a time of kids sitting alone with their cell phone playing video games.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your children, family, or friends, why not try these experiments using Carbon Dioxide (CO2)? It can be both a fun and learning experience that you can remember long after the holidays are over.
Halloween CO2 Pumpkin Experiment
No scary scene is complete without fog, haze, mist, or smoke. But how is that scene set? While smoke machines are widely available, the simplest, and most long-lasting way to create a quality spooky effect is with dry ice.
It’s a simple process:
- Add dry ice to hot water in an insulated container (such as a Styrofoam cooler).
- Repeat to maintain the effect.
To create the Spooky Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with dry ice fog, you will need:
- A large pumpkin
- A large glass
- Hot water
- Dry ice
Make sure to follow all dry ice safety handling precautions and wear protective PPE.
Choose a pumpkin large enough to hold a large can or glass beaker inside. Next, clean out the pumpkin and carve your design or a spooky grin! (Keep in mind that the carbon dioxide fog will slowly sink and flow out of the bottom.)
When you are done cleaning out and carving your pumpkin, fill a large glass half full with hot water and mix in a cup of salt. Be sure to use a glass that is taller than the eyes of your pumpkin in order to get fog to flow through all of the carvings.
Finally, place the glass inside of the pumpkin. Wearing protective equipment, drop 2-3 large pieces of dry ice into the glass of water and cover the top of your pumpkin. Make sure the lid fits tightly to eliminate air from evaporating into the fog. As the water cools, add more hot water to maintain the fog effect.
The hotter the water, the more fog, but the quicker dissipation of the dry ice.
Halloween Inflating Ghosts!
Here is another fun and exciting science experiment that is perfect for the Halloween season and super easy to create.
All you will need is the following:1) Vinegar
2) Baking soda
4) A Sharpie
5) Water bottle
The end result of the experiment will display the balloon gaining a "tremendous lift" due to the chemical reaction between the baking soda/vinegar.
Did you know that the gas produced is none other than our favorite inert gas - carbon dioxide (CO2)? Here is a further explanation of the experiment.
Diet Coke and Mentos
The eruption of bubbles caused by dropping Mentos candy into Diet Coke is over twenty years old, but still fun for kids. What you may not know is that the gas released to create the geyser of soda bubbles is carbon dioxide. The secret of the reaction is the CO2 in the soda and the rough surface of the Mentos. Here’s an explanation.
Don’t have Mentos around? Try adding half a cup of baking soda to a liter bottle of diet or regular Coke and stand back! Make sure the Coke is room temperature for maximum effect, and make sure you do this outside to minimize the mess.
Make CO2 at home
You can make CO2 at home by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 heaping teaspoon of baking soda in a glass. This safe chemical reaction creates water and CO2.
In the video, the interesting effect is to “pour” CO2 gas and put out a candle. This shows that CO2 is heavier than air.
As an alternative, combine the white vinegar and baking soda into a clear “zip lock” freezer bag and seal it quickly. As they combine, the bag will grow as it fills with CO2 gas. Once the bag is full you can open a corner of the bag and “squeeze” the gas into a glass, then poor it over a candle for the same effect.
Make Holiday Slime!
What You’ll Need:1) 5 oz. white glue
2) tbsp. Baking soda (eg/ Arm & Hammer)
3) 3 drops of food coloring (we suggest a green batch and a red batch to make it extra festive!)
4) 2 tsp contact solution Glitter (optional)
Instructions: Starting with the glue, add each ingredient in one at a time, and mix in slowly. Before long, you’ll have extra stretchy, awesomely gooey slime for everyone to enjoy!
Experiment with a CO2 Meter
If you have a CO2 meter like this one, you can easily show your children how important plants are to human life. Humans breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen. Both are invisible, odorless gases that are in the air. You can show this in 2 parts:
- Take your CO2 meter in a car (without the engine running), or create a tent in your house with you and your child inside. In a few minutes you'll see the CO2 level on the meter rise. It is recording the amount of CO2 you are exhaling. In a hurry? Let them blow on it.
- Place one or more houseplants inside a see-through container or clear plastic bag (use the one from the dry cleaners) with your CO2 meter and put it in a place where it can get light but not too hot. The tighter the seal, the better this will work. Record the CO2 level immediately and throughout the day. The CO2 level inside the container will drop slowly during the daylight hours as the plants convert CO2 into oxygen. This can lead to a discussion about the importance of plants and trees to a healthy earth!
For more CO2 experiments, be sure to visit our CO2Meter YouTube channel and never miss a beat on LIVE product demonstrations and seasonal DIY experiments.