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Name: Mindy
Status: teacher
Grade: other
Location: IL
Date: June 2008


Question:
Once we combine baking soda and vinegar to cause the bubbling, is there something we can add to that mixture to immediately stop the bubbling?



Replies:
Mindy,

Unfortunately, I would say the only thing that you can do to get the reaction to stop is to add strong acid or strong base to force the reaction to go to completion quicker. This would of course create a very large mess, lots of gas evolution, plenty of heat and quite a bit of danger--so do not do this on anything more tha a few milliliters if at all! Since the vinegar/baking soda reaction is a simple acid/base reaction, I do not believe there is anything that you can do to inhibit the transfer of protons by simply adding something.

Matt Voss


Adding a strong base, such as a lye (sodium hydroxide) solution, should do the trick, because it will turn the carbonic acid to carbonate. You will have to mix it in, though, because anywhere the solution is locally acidic will continue to produce carbon dioxide gas. Adding enough additional vinegar (or just about any acid) to consume the base will re-start the bubbling. Be sure to use eye goggles and proper safety protection.

Richard Barrans, Ph.D., M.Ed.



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