Tag Archives: volcano

Volcano Cake Decorating Instructions

Add a little water to dry ice to make a smoking volcano effect on a cake. You can use red jello or tinted icing if you want 'lava' to flow down the sides of the cake.

Add a little water to dry ice to make a smoking volcano effect on a cake. You can use red jello or tinted icing if you want ‘lava’ to flow down the sides of the cake.

It’s easy to decorate a volcano cake. This is a great party cake for birthdays or a mad scientist theme party.

Bake the Cake

  1. Select your favorite cake mix. Red velvet cake probably looks the most like molten lava, but you can use any flavor. You can get a nice effect by adding red food coloring to a yellow cake mix. Preheat your oven (350° F). 
  2. Spray a glass or metal 2-qt mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray. 
  3. Sprinkle the pan with flour. Shake out any excess. 
  4. Bake the cake. It will take about as long as if you were baking a bundt cake… probably around 35 minutes. 
  5. Allow the cake to cool completely. 
  6. Remove the cake from the bowl and set it on a plate. If the cake sticks, you can use a rubber spatula or butter knife to help release it.
It's easy to decorate a cake to resemble a volcano.

It’s easy to decorate a cake to resemble a volcano.

Decorate the Volcano Cake

  1. There are two ways to go here. If you have access to dry ice, you can hollow out the top of the cake to accommodate a small cup and frost all around the cup. When it’s time to serve the cake you would add a little hot water to the cup and drop in a bit of dry ice. This makes a spectacular display! (Here’s a video of what to expect.) You can use colored icing or red jello instead of water if you want lava to run down the sides of your cake. If you don’t have access to dry ice you can use lava-colored fruit roll-ups to simulate an eruption. It’s not as cool-looking, but it tastes great. 
  2. Frost the cake with chocolate frosting. If you like, you can stir in a little red and yellow food coloring to give it more of a red-hot look. If you don’t like chocolate, you can swirl lava colors into vanilla, cream cheese, or lemon frosting. 
  3. Use orange frosting to make rivulets of lava running down the sides of the cake. 
  4. Sprinkle red crystal sugar onto the orange lava to give your cake a red-hot glow. 
  5. To make a fruit roll-up eruption, unwrap two lava-colored fruit roll-ups. Fold them in half and re-roll them. You may want to tear the edges of the fruit to make them jagged. Set the fruit roll-ups into the frosting on the top of the cake.

Make the Volcano Cake Really Erupt

A simple way to make the cake smoke and appear to erupt is to set a small container of warm water on top of the cake. Add a pellet of dry ice when it’s time to serve the cake. If you want flowing lava, substitute syrup dyed with red food coloring for the warm water. If you fill the container completely full and add the dry ice, the lava will flow down the side of the cake.

Bake a Chocolate Volcano Souffle to Model a Real Volcano

Pu'u 'O'o, a Hawaiian volcanic cone (G.E. Ulrich - pubs.usgs)

Pu’u ‘O’o, a Hawaiian volcanic cone (G.E. Ulrich – pubs.usgs)

You know you can make a baking soda and vinegar volcano to simulate a volcanic eruption or you can use other ingredients like yeast and peroxide or citric acid and baking soda, but have you considered how the cooking of a souffle is a volcano simulation?

While the bubbles formed by the chemical reactions used to make ‘volcanoes’ behave somewhat like magma and gases, a souffle probably is a better simulant because the egg whites of a souffle harden sort of like lava hardens into rock. Lava can be foamy as the gases in magma come out of solution, forming bubbles of steam, carbon dioxide, and other gases. When a souffle is cooked, the air bubbles and steam trapped by the egg expand, causing the souffle to rise. When the gas bubbles form in magma expand, they can forcefully bubble the magma up so that it erupts as lava. If a souffle overflows its dish, you get a foamy mess that rolls down the side of the pan and eventually hardens as the egg cooks. When lava erupts from a volcano, it can cascade down the side of the cone, with the lava hardening into rock.

Are you ready to try out an edible chemical volcano? Here’s a chocolate volcano souffle recipe. It’s a little more complicated than mixing baking soda and vinegar, but it tastes a whole lot better, so it’s worth the trouble.

Individual Chocolate Souffles

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or grated
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • butter or nonstick cooking spray
  • granulated or powdered sugar or cocoa powder
    1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
    2. Butter or spray 6 personal-size ramekins. Sprinkle the inside of the ramekins with granulated sugar.
    3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl that you have set inside of a pan of very hot water.
    4. Once the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from heat and whisk in the egg yolks.
    5. In a separate bowl (preferably copper), beat together the egg whites plus a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
    6. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar. Continue beating the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
    7. Stir a spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Continue folding until the mixture is uniformly-colored.
    8. Equally divide the mixture between the 6 prepared ramekins.
    9. You can bake the souffles right away or can allow them to rest for up to 30 minutes. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the souffle is set and the tops are crusty.
    10. Sprinkle the souffles with your choice of powdered sugar, granulated sugar, or cocoa powder.
    11. Enjoy your treat and try to imagine the tasty chocolate confection is molten lava, which is what it will feel like on your tongue if you don’t let the ramekins cool enough before diving in.

5 Ways To Make a Volcano

Vinegar and Baking Soda Volcano

The vinegar and baking soda volcano is the classic science fair model volcano. (Anne Helmenstine)

There is more than one way to make a chemical volcano. Actually, there are several methods. Here are some of the best, from the tried-and-true baking soda and vinegar volcano to the most exotic dry ice volcano.

Make the Volcano Cone

You can use a bottle or can or really any container for your volcanic eruption, but it’s easy to make the volcano shape by coating your container with clay or papier mache. Here is a simple recipe for a homemade clay volcano:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cups water
  1. Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl. It’s easiest if you stir the flour, salt, and oil together first and then mix in the water. You can add more water if needed. You want a firm, smooth dough.
  2. Stand an empty soda bottle or can in a pie tin or baking pan (so your ‘lava’ won’t make a mess) and mold the dough into a volcano shape. Be sure you don’t drop dough into the bottle or cover the opening.
  3. If you want to paint the volcano, wait until the dough is dry.

Now for the recipes! Most use common ingredients that you have at home.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano

This is the classic science fair project volcano. The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) reacts with the vinegar (weak acetic acid) to produce carbon dioxide gas. The detergent traps the gas, which is heavier than air, so it flows down the side of the volcano.

  • warm water
  • liquid dishwashing detergent
  • red or orange food coloring
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  1. Pour warm water into the volcano until it is 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.
  2. Add several drops of food coloring.
  3. Add a squirt of detergent. This helps the ‘lava’ foam up and flow.
  4. Add a couple of spoonfuls of baking soda.
  5. When you are ready to start the eruption, pour vinegar into your volcano.
  6. You can recharge the volcano with more baking soda and vinegar.

Note: If you don’t have vinegar, you can use another acidic liquid, like lemon juice or orange juice.

Yeast and Peroxide Volcano

  • packet of quick-rise yeast
  • hydrogen peroxide (3% sold in stores or can use 6% from beauty supply stores)
  • food coloring
  1. Pour the hydrogen peroxide solution into the volcano until it is nearly full. The 3% household peroxide is safe to handle, but wear gloves and use extreme caution if you use the 6% peroxide, which can give you chemical burns!
  2. Add several drops of food coloring for your lava.
  3. When you are ready for the eruption, add the packet of yeast to the volcano.

Ketchup and Vinegar Volcano

Ketchup Volcano

The ketchup volcano erupts with a thick red lava. (Anne Helmenstine)

This volcano bubbles and oozes lava. The eruption is not so dramatic, but is interesting and long-lasting. The acidity of the vinegar and tomatoes in the ketchup reacts with the baking soda to produce carbon dioxide gas, which gets trapped as bubbles by the detergent.

  • ketchup
  • warm water
  • dishwashing liquid
  • baking soda
  1. Mix together ketchup, warm water, and a squirt of detergent to make lava.
  2. Pour the mixture into the volcano so it is nearly full.
  3. When you are ready for the eruption, add baking soda.

Mentos and Diet Soda Volcano

Mentos and Tonic Water

The quinine in tonic water causes it to glow blue under black light. (Anne Helmenstine)

This volcano erupts instantly and spectacularly. For a truly memorable volcano, use diet tonic water instead of diet cola and shine a black light on the volcano. This produces a vivid blue glowing eruption!

  • diet soda (regular soda works too, but produces a sticky mess)
  • Mentos candies
  1. Fill the volcano full of soda (or you could have molded the volcano around a full soda bottle.
  2. When you are ready for the eruption, drop all of the Mentos candies into the mouth of the bottle at once. One easy way to do this is to roll a sheet of paper around the candies, put your finger beneath them to hold them in place, and release the candies over the hole. Be prepared for a major splash!

Dry Ice Volcano

This volcano appears to smoke, releasing a cascade of bubble lava.

  • warm water
  • dishwashing liquid
  • dry ice
  1. Fill the volcano with warm water.
  2. Add a bit of dishwashing liquid.
  3. When you are ready to start the eruption, use gloves or tongs to drop a piece of dry ice into the volcano.