So far this summer, we have been hiding inside because of the scorching hot weather. This week, the temperature finally dropped below 100, so we headed outdoors for some exploding paint bombs activity!
The kids had a blast (pun intended) with this art project. Messy paint plus explosive film canisters equal excited, squealing kids. I strongly urge you to do this activity outside, because we had a few film canisters that flew over my head with paint splattering everywhere.
My son asked me why we didn’t do this activity for the fourth of July. The answer is, we should have! The resulting artwork looked like fireworks, and the sound the film canister made when the top popped off sounded like explosions. Oh well, next year!
Exploding Paint Bombs Activity
- Pour some paint into the film canisters. You don’t have to be exact, about a teaspoon is probably enough.
- Add just a few drops of water. If you add too much water, it will dilute the paint and your artwork won’t be as vivid.
- Break an Alka Seltzer tablet in half.
- Add half of the Alka Seltzer tablet in the film canister.
- Quickly close the top of the film canister, shake it vigorously a few times, and place it down on the watercolor paper with the top down.
- Step back and wait for the explosion!
- Remove the film canister cap from the paint.
- Repeat with other paint colors!
Were you surprised when the first one exploded? The sound was louder than I expected and the film canister went flying!
My kids loved this film canister fireworks painting activity. After we finished the first round of paint bombs, they now want to explore. I love how kids are naturally curious and I don’t even have to prompt them to do further experiments.
Before I jump into what we tried, let me first explain why the film canister launches so high into the air.
The Science Behind Exploding Paint Bombs
Similar to what we saw in the DIY lava lamp and snowstorm in a jar, a chemical reaction occurs when you mix Alka Seltzer and water.
Alka Seltzer tablets are made out of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). When the Alka Seltzer tablet comes in contact with water, the acid and base react and form carbon dioxide bubbles. If you accidentally didn’t close the lid of the film canister all the way, you would see bubbles escaping from the gap.
The gas builds up inside the film canister with nowhere to go. Eventually, there is too much pressure inside the film canister, and the gas will pop open the lid of the canister.
As mentioned above, we tried so many experiments after we finished the artwork. And of course, the goal for my kids was to find out how we can make the film canister fly the highest.
- Add more water.
- Put in one whole Alka Seltzer tablet.
- Try putting the used Alka Seltzer back in the canister and see if it will still explode.
- Don’t add water at all.
- Shake the film canister more before putting it down (though don’t hold on too it for too long or else it will explode in your hand).
- Try using baking soda and vinegar.
Isn’t this exploding paint bomb activity so fun? My kids are already waiting for the next science experiment where we get to make the film canister explode again.
Keep this science experiment in mind for 4th of July, or even New Years! Since young kids usually can’t stay up late enough to watch fireworks, they can make their own right in their driveway or backyard.
For more explosive activities, check out: