How to Build a Cinder Cone Volcano Model

Written by larry simmons
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A cinder cone volcano is not the type that normally comes to mind when most people think of model volcanoes. There is no stream of lava or large explosion with most cinder cone volcanoes. The eruption produces mostly ash, which make modelling this specific type of volcano different from the traditional baking soda volcano model created by most school-aged children. The main differences are the shape of the volcano and the materials used to create the eruption. The eruption simulation will require the use of chemicals and a lighter, so adult supervision is necessary. Creating the model, however, is easy, and a fun project suitable for all ages.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2 small tin cans
  • Baking tray
  • Aluminium foil
  • Brown plasticine clay
  • Sulphur
  • Ammonuum dichromate
  • Fireplace lighter

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  1. 1

    Wrap two tin cans, four to six inches, with aluminium foil, bases touching, with the opening of the cans uncovered.

  2. 2

    Stand the cans in the centre of the baking tray.

  3. 3

    Create the cone shape of your volcano using more aluminium foil, anchoring it in the mouths of the tin cans and spreading it about six inches out from the rims of the cans. The volcano should be cone shaped to model the formation of the volcano due to constant years of ash and semi-solid stone ejecta build-up, so build the base narrow with a steep rise.

  4. 4

    Cover the aluminium foil volcano body with a layer of brown plasticine modelling clay purchased from an art supply store. Mold the clay so that it appears to be a natural mountain.

  5. 5

    Place a mixture of 5 grams sulphur and 20 grams ammonium dichromate into the tin cans arranged into a cone-shaped pile. The sulphur adds colour and smell to the eruption, while the ammonium dichromate simulates the ashy eruption process of the cinder cone volcanoes. Both substances can be purchased from chemical suppliers or online from

  6. 6

    Use a fireplace lighter to light the chemicals in the cans. The chemicals will heat slowly and then will burn, giving off the smell of sulphur followed by the eruption of ash due to the burning ammonium dichromate.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have difficulty lighting the chemical mixture, create a fuse from a strip of magnesium, placing it into the pile of chemicals and lighting it instead.
  • Light the volcano only in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in the dust created from the chemical reaction, which can contain materials hazardous to your health.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher onhand should any of the burning ash escape the baking tray.

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