Adult Sized Baking Powder Submarine


It really doesn’t matter what age you are, we’re sure you remember baking powder submarines. That’s because cereal manufacturers have been including them as prizes since the advent of injection molded plastic. Fill them with baking soda and take them in the bath with you. They gently dive and surface. The problem is that the cereal prizes were tiny. Now you can relive your childhood with an adult size version of your own making.

The submarine is basically a hunk of PVC with a conning tower to keep it upright and a chunk of hose into which the baking powder is placed. The idea is that the powdery acid and base that makes up the stuff reacts when hit with water. This gives off a bit of carbon dioxide, which makes the sub float to the surface until the bubble escapes and is replaced with water to again sink the ship. The difficult part is to find the right buoyancy (using wine bottle cork) so that the bubble is all it takes to oscillate between the surface and the watery depths.

Watch it go in the video after the break.

25 thoughts on “Adult Sized Baking Powder Submarine

    1. I was picturing large 50lb bags of baking powder and someone risking their life on the maiden voyage. I had to look it up but baking power is just baking soda with an acidic agent added so moisture will activate the reaction. I guess you could use baking soda if you dropped it into vinegar, but you might just end up with a volcano then.

  1. @john – Yeah, I was pretty sure I was about to see an epic “adult-sized” submarine that an “adult” could get in… I guess that just means the gauntlet has been thrown. Me thinks Costco would be the first stop for baking powder.

  2. Scale it up, add fins to provide forward motion as it rises and sinks. Equip it with various sensors (For Science!) and an automatic system to replenish the baking powder from an onboard supply, with compensating ballast tank as the powder is used.

    Toss in the ocean and see how far it can go.

    1. I think this is one for Mythbusters! A little math and a scale test about how much carbon dioxide gas must form before a person, and the rig, can rise to the surface seems necessary…

  3. When I saw the picture I thought someone was trying to smoke crack in a PVC pipe, then I read the title. For a moment there though I really thought the site had gone downhill…

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