How to make a volcano

Updated February 21, 2017

Step 1

Use a sheet of plywood at least 8 inches wider and longer than your planned volcano to make the base, to prevent the lava from staining surfaces during eruptions.

Step 2

Use salt dough, plaster or papier-mâché to form a mountain around an empty 2-liter bottle placed upright at the center of the plywood base. Be sure to leave the lid off.

Step 3

Form the model volcano's open top tightly around the mouth of the bottle.

Step 4

Make ridges and channels beginning at the volcano's top and ending at the base of the volcano for the lava to flow through.

Step 5

Let the volcano dry completely, then paint it with acrylics or spray paint. Plastic aquarium plants can be clipped and glued to the volcano for trees.

Step 6

Spray the volcano and plywood with a clear sealant after the paint has dried.

Step 7

Mix 1 tbsp. liquid dish washing soap, 1 tbsp. baking soda and a few drops of red food coloring in a cup.

Step 8

Pour the mixture carefully into the bottle.

Step 9

Set the volcano in an open area, preferably outside.

Step 10

Pour 1/4 c. white vinegar into the bottle and stand back to watch your volcano erupt!


  • Use wadded-up newspaper balls around the bottle to give the volcano its shape under a layer of plaster or papier-mâché paste, but make sure the surface layer of the volcano is solid, so that it can be sealed for re-use.
  • If the lava is too thick, add 1 tbsp. water to the soap mix.
  • To re-use the volcano, simply clean it off with a damp rag.
  • With drying time, making a volcano is at least a two-day project.


  • Do not attempt to seal the bottle once the vinegar is added to the baking soda mixture--the resulting pressure could cause the bottle to explode.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty 2-liter bottle
  • Spray or acrylic paints
  • Clear sealant
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Brushes
  • Papier-mâché paste or salt dough or plaster
  • Plywood sheet
  • Newspaper
  • Red food coloring
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