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Dancing Spaghetti

Spaghetti is denser than water and, therefore, sinks when placed in water. When
spaghetti is placed in a solution of baking soda and vinegar, the spaghetti
rises to the surface due to the carbon dioxide gas that adheres to it. When the
spaghetti reaches the surface, the gas is released, and the spaghetti sinks


1 1000-mL beaker
1 glass mixing bowl
10 g sodium hydrogen carbonate
3 Tsp baking soda
45 mL 3% acetic acid
4-5 Tbsp vinegar
10 2-cm pieces of vermacelli


1. Fill a clear container 3/4 full with water. Add the sodium hydrogen
carbonate (or baking soda) and stir to dissolve.
2. Break the vermicelli into 2-cm, or 1-inch, pieces and add them to the
3. Add the acetic acid (vinegar). If the vermicelli does not begin to "dance"
after a few minutes, add more sodium hydrogen carbonate and acetic acid.
4. If possible, substitute raisins for the vermicelli.

Results and Conclusions:

1. Vinegar (HC2H3O2) is a 5% solution of acetic acid. It reacts with baking
soda, sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3), to produce a carbon dioxide gas (CO2)
and sodium acetate (NaC2H3O2). The reaction can be written as follows:

NaHCO3 (aq) + HC2H3O2 (aq) ------> CO2 (g) + H2O (l) + NaC2H3O2 (aq)

Bubbles of carbon dioxide gas adhere to the surface of the spaghetti. The result
is that the sum of the density of the spaghetti and the gas is less than that of
the water solution. Thus, the pieces rise to the surface. Many of the bubbles
are released at the surface, and the density of the spaghetti becomes again
greater than that of the solution. Thus, the spaghetti sinks. Children’s
"water-wings" operate on the same principle by adding to the volume of the child
without increasing the mass considerably.

2. The amounts of baking soda and vinegar are approximate and depend on the size
of the container used. If a larger container is used, increase the amount of
baking soda and vinegar appropriately.


1. Raisins can be used in addition to, or in place of, the spaghetti.

2. Add a drop of food coloring to your water to enhance "dance" movement.