Exploding Paint Missiles

Yesterday the kids and I decided to spend time outside to make the most of the sun, (before the rainstorms hit). I called my mum to see if she was up to a little science with us, she’s always up for anything hands on, she’s a great sport!

Our back yard is only tiny, and what I had in mind needed a bit more space so we drove to a field about 15 minutes away and set up our fun science station there.

I absolutely love art and I equally love science so the thought of launching these missiles made me very giddy, (probably more so than the kids, to be honest).

Anyway, less of the chatty stuff and let’s get down to business…

For this experiment you need the following

How We Did It…

Take a film canister and fill it about a third of the way with paint, then add just a splash of water to make sure the paint is runny enough. Replace your lid and give it a good shake. Now here comes the fun part – break an Alka Seltzer tablet in half and add this to your canister. Now VERY QUICKLY replace the cap and put the canister, FACE DOWN onto the ground/card/canvas, (you get the idea). Now all you do is wait… some reactions take place immediately while some take a little time! The kids were really excited to watch their missiles launch into the air leaving a paint splodge on the paper.

Make sure you wear old clothes for this activity as it does get very messy – I ended up with a few paint explosions that gave me colourful hair and clothes, and the kids were all 10 times worse off than me!


  • We used banqueting roll for this experiment but we found it was way too flimsy and the explosions left holes in the paper! It was still fun, but next time I would use something a lot more sturdy.
  • We also experimented with glittery and metallic paint but neither of these worked – they were too thick and gloopy.

The Sciency Stuff

The Alka Seltzer tablets work by activating the citric acid and baking soda in the water. This creates a reaction that produces carbon dioxide bubbles. The gas builds up in the canister and because it doesn’t have anywhere to go, it eventually pops open and causes the missile to fly!






Leave a Reply