Library Lab: Fizzing Frosty


Too chilly outside to play? Snow problem. Let's build a snowman in the toasty warmth of the library and learn a little about chemical reactions along the way! Many thanks to Little Bins for Little Hands for instructional inspiration.


Library Supplies: 
  • baking soda
  • water
  • white vinegar
  • small disposable cup
  • two small bowls
  • spoon
  • glitter
  • two googly eyes
  • orange pipe cleaner
  • two brown pipe cleaners



After you’ve assembled all the supplies you’ll need for this activity, carefully arrange Frosty’s two googly eyes and carrot nose (that is, an orange pipe cleaner) at the bottom of your disposable cup, googly eyes facing out.

Next, mix your baking soda and glitter together in a small bowl, just enough of each so that your cup will be filled halfway with sparkly snow. Then, begin slowly adding water until your mixture is a bit crumbly. 

Gently spoon the glitzy mixture into your disposable cup and pack it down lightly. Place the result in the freezer—cup and all—for as long as you’d like, keeping in mind that the longer Frosty stays in the freezer, the longer he will take to “melt.” In the meantime, rinse the bowl that previously held your baking soda mixture and fill it with some white vinegar. 

When you’re ready, take Frosty from the fridge and cut the cup with scissors, freeing the snowman from the cup. Place Frosty in a second bowl and insert the brown pipe cleaners like you would the stick arms of a real snowman.

With a spoon, start covering him in white vinegar. Frosty will fizz as he “melts” away!


What Happened to Frosty?

It may look like your snowman is melting when you add vinegar, but not so fast! Melting involves a physical change of state, when something turns from a solid to a liquid. That isn’t taking place here! When we watch Frosty fizz, we’re watching a chemical reaction occur between the baking soda and the vinegar, and this chemical reaction produces a new substance called carbon dioxide gas. This happens when a base (baking soda) and an acid (vinegar) mix, and it explains the bubbling and fizzing you can hear, see, smell, and touch!


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


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