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How to Make a Classic Paper Mache Volcano

It’s the science fair experiment that Hollywood loves to make fun of. They almost always have the experiment go horribly awry at the very wrong moment.

The volcano goes off, smoke or some sort of goo shoots into the air, and havoc ensues.

paper mache volcano

But this could be far from the truth when it comes to the paper mache volcano science experiment.

It’s actually a classic experiment that kids really do enjoy. And it’s a great way to teach kids the basics of chemical reactions without boring them or using dangerous chemicals.

Related: How to make a tornado in a bottle!

1. What You Need To Gather

This is a project and you will need supplies.

All of these things you can find down at your local grocery store or at Walmart or Hobby Lobby.

  • A large cardboard box
  • Water
  • A bowl
  • Scissors (if kids are helping, use the kid safe scissors and supervise. We don’t want that kind of volcano happening in our classroom or at home!)
  • Paint and brushes (You want it to look cool, don’t you?)
  • Small toys and models (While optional, it does add a touch of “realism.” Plus, it’s fun to see your matchbox cars “swept away” by lava.)
  • Funnel
  • A 12 oz water or soda bottle, empty
  • White glue
  • Newspaper

ant head scissors

Lava Ingredients

  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of soda A.K.A. baking soda. (Do not confuse this with baking powder. If you do, your volcano will not be a success).
  • Red food coloring to make it look like it’s actually lava.

2. How To Make The Paper Mache Volcano

First, cut a big square in the cardboard for the volcano’s base.

Next, use white glue to paste the plastic bottle to the base spout facing up and bottom on the cardboard.

Grab the newspaper. Now rip half of it into one inch wide strips.

Now, take the bowl. Mix up the glue and water.

Then take the rest of the newspaper and scrunch up each sheet.

Take the sheets and submerge the completely in the glue and water bowl. Then stick it on the cardboard around the plastic bottle.

Do this until you run out of crumpled sheets and you have the rough shape of a cone. Make sure you are starting wide at the base and getting smaller as you build.

Now it’s time to use the one-inch strips of paper.

Grab those, put them in the glue mixture and lay them on top of your rough volcano. Make sure you do this so that the strips lay with one end on top and the other on the bottom near the base.

Make several layers of these strips until it looks like a newspaper paper mache volcano.

Let sit for 24 hours and the paint your volcano and decorate with your toys.


3. How To Make It Go Off

Now is the fun part.

Measure three tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda and, using the funnel, pour it into the opening at the top of the volcano.

Now drop in a couple drops of red food coloring.

Lastly, pour about 8 oz of vinegar into the spout of your volcano.

And “booom!”

You have lava!

And a chemical called carbonic acid. An unstable substance that fizzes and expands.


It’s really fun and easy to learn about chemical reactions with a paper mache volcano.

Have you made a paper mache volcano before? What were your scientific observations? Let us know!

Now, why not try the classic Mentos and Coke experiment you probably heard about?!

Mentos and Coke Experiment – How to Do It!