Exploding Art- Paint Bags

April 21, 2013
While experimenting the other day we made an AMAZING discovery.
 Well, in the world of play it was pretty amazing!  

Exploding paint bags
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This activity was SO FUN!  We discovered Exploding Paint Bags while trying out this exploding bag experiment from Steve Spangler with a twist.   The original experiment calls for baking soda and vinegar.  I wanted to add color to this fun experiment by using tempera paint and crushed chalk.  As I added the tempera paint and chalk to vinegar I discovered that baking soda was not needed.

What you need to make Exploding Paint Bags & Art

  • Zip-seal bags
  • Vinegar
  • Powder tempera paint or crushed chalk - we used both
  • Poster board to lay under the play area
Add roughly 1/3 cup of vinegar to a standard size zip seal bag.  To make even bigger exploding paint bags you can use bigger bags with more vinegar.  Then add roughly 2 tablespoons of powdered tempera paint or crushed chalk.   We experimented with both, and both worked!  The powdered paint worked a lot better though so if you have that I recommend using it.  There are tons of ways to use powdered paint in art & play so if you don't have it, it might be worth the investment.  We use this powdered paint.  You could also use baking soda and add food coloring.

Exploding paint bags
Once you add the paint, chalk, or baking soda quickly seal the bag and set it down (Do not squeeze the air out of the bag as you seal it).  Make sure the bag is all the way sealed.  Then watch the bag expand right before your eyes.
paint bombs
The bags will continue to expand until they POP! Some bags filled more quickly than others, I think because of a variance in materials.  We really didn't measure exact amounts after the first bag. 

Rosie couldn't resist touching the bags as she waiting in anticipation while they filled.
paint bombs

This yellow bag was taking so long Rosie asked if we could make it explode. She had lots of fun slamming it.
paint bombs
Other bags filled and popped really fast.  The fizzing science.

paint bombs
About to pop
paint bombs
paint bombs
Each bag eventually ended with an eruption of vibrant color.
paint bombs
As the bags popped, beautiful artwork was created on the poster board we had placed underneath our play area.

paint bombs

paint bombs
We even explored color mixing by adding two primary colors to a bag and watching them mix right before our eyes.
paint bombs
Seriously SO COOL!

Rosie asked to make exploding paint bag after paint bag and eagerly watched each one.

paint bombs
The one above was made using ONLY baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring! We wanted to test to make sure that worked as well, and it worked GREAT! If you don't have powdered paint don't let that stop the fun!
Rosie loved playing in the fizzing paint and creating art with her hands

paint bombs
Once the fun was over we left out poster board outside to dry- beautiful works of art were the result of this fun amazing Science!

This was such a FUN discovery! I am anxious to further explore with these materials and see what other fun ways we can use them!

Update- Since this post we have found other ways to play. Be sure to check out our Exploding Sidewalk Chalk & Art

The Science Behind the FUN
Powdered tempera and chalk both contain limestone which is actually a chemical called calcium carbonate.  The vinegar and calcium carbonate react similar to how baking soda and vinegar do.  Together, they form carbon dioxide gas which is what fills the bags and causes them to pop.  Essentially, this experiment explores an acid and base reaction in a NEW fun way!

More About the Author

Crystal Underwood is the writer and creator of Growing A Jeweled Rose. She has worked extensively with children and strongly believes in the importance of play at the core of early learning. She is passionate about the early years and believes that childhood should be a truly magical time in life. For all the best kids activities connect with Growing a Jeweled Rose below!