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Summer Science Series: The Chemistry of Fizzy Lemonade

 

Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than a cold glass of lemonade. Try this simple chemistry experiment to make your next lemonade a bit fancier and a whole lot fizzier.

A CHEMICAL REACTION happens when two substances bump into each other, rearrange some of their parts, and make a brand new substance. In this experiment, you will mix lemon juice and baking soda together to produce a chemical reaction.

When lemon juice and baking soda mix, the new substance that is made is a gas. When a gas forms in a liquid, it makes fizzy bubbles. Do you know the name of the gas that is formed during this reaction? It’s the same gas that makes your favorite store-bought soda pop fizzy.

Take a guess – do you think it’s:

  • oxygen gas?
  • carbon dioxide gas?
  • nitrogen gas?

Now try the experiment and see if you were right!

NOTE: This experiment is designed for children ages 8-12. But younger kids can also have fun experimenting along side an adult.

WARNING: While it is safe to ingest the small amount of baking soda used in the experiment, large amounts should not be consumed.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • supervising adult
  • cutting board and knife
  • 1 lemon
  • drinking glass
  • water
  • measuring spoons
  • baking soda (not baking powder)
  • sugar
  • ice and straw (optional)

LET’S GET STARTED

  1. Ask an adult to slice the lemon into quarters.
  2. Squeeze as much juice as you can from the lemon pieces into the drinking glass.
  3. Add some water to the glass – about the same amount as lemon juice.
  4. Now add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and observe what happens!
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar (or a bit more) to sweeten the drink and stir well to dissolve the sugar.
  6. Add some ice and a straw if you’d like.
  7. Now taste your drink! What do you think of your homemade fizzy lemonade?

WHAT’S GOING ON?

A chemical reaction happened between the citric acid in the lemon juice and the baking soda (which is also called sodium bicarbonate). When you added the baking soda to the lemon juice, the two substances bumped into each other, exchanged some of their parts, and formed a new substance – a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2). The fizz you saw was made up of lots of pockets of carbon dioxide gas bubbles floating up through the liquid.

Were you right? Did you choose carbon dioxide above?

This reaction is similar to the reaction that happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda to make a model of a volcano. That reaction also produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles.

MIX IT UP!

You can also try adding different amounts baking soda to see how it affects the chemical reaction. What do you think will happen if you add 1 full teaspoon? Or 1/8th of a teaspoon? We will warn you, though, that baking soda has a very bitter taste – adding more might affect the delicious flavor of your lemonade. So, taste cautiously! We’re sure you can experiment to come up with the perfect balance between an exciting reaction and good flavor.

To make different flavors of fizzy soda, try the experiment again using different citrus fruits – oranges, limes, or grapefruits.

Let us know how your experiments went and what you observed.

We love getting messages and photos!

Happy experimenting!

     Marcie Colledge, PhD

           and the whole Yellow Scope team

For more exciting experiments on chemical reactions, check out our Foundation Chemistry Kit!




Yellow Scope
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1 Response

karen
karen

July 18, 2015

This was delicious, fun and educational – for boys too!

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