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# What Is the Equation for the Reaction Between Baking Soda and Vinegar?

One of the most popular uses for the baking soda and vinegar reaction is to erupt lava from a model volcano.

Image courtesy of PriceGrabber.

Question: What Is the Equation for the Reaction Between Baking Soda and Vinegar?

The reaction between baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (dilute acetic acid) generates carbon dioxide gas, which is used in chemical volcanoes and other projects. Here is a look at the reaction between baking soda and vinegar and the equation for the reaction.

Answer: The reaction between baking soda and vinegar actually occurs in two steps, but the overall process can be summarized by the following word equation:

baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) plus vinegar (acetic acid) yields carbon dioxide plus water plus sodium ion plus acetate ion

The chemical equation for the overall reaction is:

NaHCO3(s) + CH3COOH(l) → CO2(g) + H2O(l) + Na+(aq) + CH3COO-(aq)

with s = solid, l = liquid, g = gas, aq = aqueous or in water solution

Another common way to write this reaction is:

NaHCO3 + HC2H3O2 → NaC2H3O2 + H2O + CO2

The above reaction, while technically correct, does not account for the dissociation of the sodium acetate in water.

The chemical reaction actually occurs in two steps. First, there is double displacement reaction in which acetic acid in vinegar reacts with sodium bicarbonate to form sodium acetate and carbonic acid:

NaHCO3 + HC2H3O2 → NaC2H3O2 + H2CO3

Carbonic acid is unstable and undergoes a decomposition reaction to produce the carbon dioxide gas:

H2CO3 → H2O + CO2

The carbon dioxide escapes the solution as bubbles. The bubbles are heavier than air, so the carbon dioxide collects at the surface of the container or overflows it. In a baking soda volcano, detergent usually is added to collect the gas and form bubbles that flow somewhat like lava down the side of the 'volcano'. A dilute sodium acetate solution remains after the reaction.

### Baking Soda and Vinegar Projects

Classic Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano
Baking Soda and Vinegar Foam Fight