Home SCIENCE Is It Possible To Inflate A Balloon With Crushed Seashells From A...

Is It Possible To Inflate A Balloon With Crushed Seashells From A Hydraulic Press?

If you happen to own a hydraulic press you could try this chemistry trick – crushing shells, mixing them with vinegar to release their captured carbon dioxide.In this video I answer the age old question-is it possible to use crushed sea shells from a hydraulic press to blow up a balloon? I’m just joking, I doubt anyone but me has ever asked that question. Either way I show you the answer. After I crush the shells I talk about how they are made of calcium carbonate and that they will react with vinegar to form carbon dioxide.

image/text credit: teachbesideme

Did you know that you can do a simple acid base experiment with seashells and vinegar? The two combined create a chemical reaction. Shells are a base and vinegar is an acid, so naturally there would be a reaction, right?

When you place the shell into the vinegar, you will immediately start seeing bubbles coming off of the shell.This is carbon dioxide that is created by the reaction between the two.


Shells are made of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate reacts to the acid in vinegar and if the shell is left in the vinegar for a few days, it will actually dissolve! After about a day and a half, the effects slowed down, so I poured out the old vinegar and put some fresh vinegar in.