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.  Please see attached procedure.


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

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.

By Laura Hospitál

Attached File(s)


Kate Fraser announcing award recipients at the 2017 Science Fair.

Kate Fraser oral history

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Project INSPIRE: Fall 2022 Courses

Fingers reading a braille textbook.

Automated Translation