Unexploded bag bomb

Sandwich Bag Experiment

In this experiment, Calvin tested the volume of the explosion using different vinegars.

This experiment was taken from the book The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science by Sean Connolly.


Which vinegar will have the loudest explosion: regular, white wine or balsamic vinegar?

Independent variable:

The change is the different types of vinegar.

Dependent Variable:

I’m measuring how loud the bag will pop.


My prediction is that the white wine vinegar is going to have the loudest pop.


We really can’t say. It was inconclusive because the white wine vinegar bag bomb didn’t explode.



  1. Prepare required materials.
  2. This experiment will work only if your sandwich bag has no holes.  Test the bag by half-filling it with water, zipping it shut, and turning it upside down over the sink.
  3. If no water leaks out, you are fine.  Empty out the test water.
  4. Tear a sheet of paper towel into a square measuring about 6 inches by 6 inches.
  5. Pour the baking soda onto the center of the paper towel, then fold the towel into an “envelope” with the powder inside it.
  6. Pour the vinegar and warm water into the bag.
  7. Then, carefully but quickly, add the paper towel “envelope” to the bag and seal it.
  8. Shake the bag a little, then put it on the ground and stand back.
  9. The bag will inflate and then pop with a satisfying bang.
  10. Measure how loud the bang is using the app for measuring volume in decibels  on the iPad in dBA and record the measurement.
  11. Repeat steps 4-10 with balsamic vinegar and record your measurement.
  12. Repeat steps 4-10 using white wine vinegar and record your measurement.
  13. Compare your results.


It would be possible to use other kinds of vinegar than those used.

Notes on experimental error:  The white wine vinegar bag bomb didn’t explode – possibly because the bag wasn’t closed quickly enough and gas escaped.

NGSS Standards

Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly. (HS-ESS2-5)

By Laura Hospitál

Collage of sandwich bag experiment

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