StormTracker Science: Candy-Soda Explosion

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Lots of kids across North Central West Virginia love candy and soda.

In this edition of StormTracker Science, we’re taking a favorite soft drink and sweet snack into the chemistry class.

This experiment is called Candy-Soda Xplosion.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Large bottle of Diet Coke
  • About half a pack of Mentos
  • Geyser tube (optional but makes things much easier)

HOW TO DO THE EXPERIMENT:

  1. Make sure you are doing this experiment in a place where you won’t get in trouble for getting Diet Coke everywhere. Outside on some grass is perfect, on a large disposable sheet, or large tray!
  2. Stand the Diet Coke upright and unscrew the lid.
  3. You can put some sort of funnel or tube on top of it so you can drop the Mentos in at the same time (about half the pack is a good amount).
  4. Time for the fun part – drop the Mentos into the Diet Coke and step back quickly! If you’ve done it properly, a huge volcano of Diet Coke should come flying out of the bottle!

WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?

The reason why this experiment works is because of the combination of carbon dioxide in the Diet Coke and the air pockets in the Mentos candy pieces.

The thing that makes soda drinks bubbly is the carbon dioxide that is pumped in when they bottle the drink at the factory. The pressure of the gas doesn’t get released from the liquid until you pour it into a glass and drink it, some also gets released when you open the lid (more if you shake it up beforehand). This means that there is a whole lot of carbon dioxide gas just waiting to escape the liquid in the form of bubbles.

Dropping something into the Diet Coke speeds up this process by both breaking the surface tension of the liquid and also allowing bubbles to form on the surface area of the Mentos. Mentos candy pieces are covered in tiny dimples, like a golf ball. This dramatically increases the surface area and causes bubbles to form.

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