The Mentos Experiment Unwrapped
by Laurnie Wilson
When Mentos and Diet Soda Collide
There’s something really satisfying about making stuff blow up. It may sound juvenile, but do we ever outgrow the wonder and amazement we feel when watching science remind us how awesome it is? I mean people love Old Faithful, right? So consider this a miniature version of a natural wonder. It certainly has a history worthy of being unwrapped.
The Science Behind It
So most everyone knows that Mentos and Diet Soda make one cool explosion. But what exactly is exploding? Let’s break this down, shall we? First, we need to understand the composition of Mentos. You see, every mint flavored Mento has a series of small pores on the surface of the candy. Two other important ingredients in the candy are gelatin and gum arabic, a natural tree gum. These ingredients are all nestled inside the Mentos, waiting for the right conditions to make their big move.
There She Blows!
Now, let’s look at the soda component. Diet soda, the kind recommended for the greatest eruption, contains potassium benzoate, aspartame, and CO2. When you toss the Mentos into the soda, the pores in the candy allow for the greatest amount of explosions to take place. What this means is that the reaction produces a ton of foam that, with nowhere to go inside the bottle, shoots out through the opening of the bottle in a geyser-like fashion, much to the excitement of all in attendance of this event.
Because Fruit Flavored Mentos have a smooth, waxy coating, they won’t react in the same way. I guess you could say having big pores is a good thing, when you’re a Mento! This is a fun and easy backyard experiment that you can do at home! Something you shouldn’t do at home is combine a handful of Mentos and soda in your stomach. While ingesting a combination of the two won’t kill you, we don’t recommend it. Just imagine the reaction you see coming out of the bottle happening inside of your stomach—not a pretty (or safe!) sight. So let’s keep this experiment outside, shall we?
Records show that the soda spray can reach upwards of 20 feet! So if you do plan to do this at home, call all your friends. It’s bound to be the coolest thing they’ve seen in a while. And now you know the nuts and bolts behind what this candy trick can do.