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There’s nothing like an explosion to grab your kids’ attention! And the messier the better, right? This rainbow pop and Mentos experiment is a classic with a twist! It’s a colorful version of the familiar soda pop and mint candy blowout, and it’s tons of fun.
What’s the science behind this experiment?
Well, contrary to what you might think, this isn’t actually chemistry, but rather just physics!
The “explosion” of soda pop is caused by a rapid release of the pressurized carbon dioxide in the liquid. Carbon dioxide is what causes the “fizzy” taste of the soda pop, and it’s naturally released as you open the bottle or pour it into a glass — just slowly. But we can speed that release up by breaking the tension that holds the gas suspended in the liquid. (That’s why if you shake or drop a bottle of pop, it may “explode” when you open it!)
Recommended Science Experiment Books
This pop and mint candy experiment is one of the coolest and easiest to do. But there are tons of fascinating experiments you can do with your kids in your own kitchen. Grab one of our recommended kitchen science books and start experimenting! We’d love to see what you do, so post in the comments too!
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So what do the candies do in our mint candy and pop experiment? Well, despite what they look like, Mentos aren’t actually smooth candies. If you look really close, they’re covered in tiny bumps. And those bumps are just enough to disrupt the carbon dioxide gas bonds in the liquid. That means… sploosh! The gas releases at all once, and with the immense pressure, shoots the liquid out of the bottle in a great big spurt!
What you need:
For this experiment, you’ll want a large outdoor space, as it can get quite messy. You may also want a video camera or your smart phone to record the experiment, because it looks amazing!
To get the rainbow effect, use multiple colors of Fanta soda pop. For the “explosive” effect, you’ll need Mentos brand mint candy, of course. And for even more fun, we included baking soda and vinegar, and some dishwashing liquid, to maximize the mess!
You’ll also want a plastic surface of some kind to hold all your bottles. We used an upside-down laundry basket, but a plastic sheet on a small table would work too. And we used cups to help control the explosion, so you’ll need 2 plastic cups for each color. Remember, this rainbow pop and Mentos experiment is MESSY!
What you do:
For this version of the pop and Mentos experiment, first prepare your cups. Put a package of Mentos candy in each cup, with one cup per color of soda pop you have. Then add in the baking soda. In a separate cup, mix one color of Fanta, vinegar and dishwashing liquid. We added matching food coloring, as well, just to enhance the color of the result. Do NOT drink this!!
When you have your camera ready, add the candy-and-baking soda mix to the Fanta mix. If you can do it quickly, you can see the simultaneous reaction happen all at once. Then step back fast and watch your rainbow pop and Mentos experiment in action! It’s lots of fun!
You may want to buy lots of candy so you can do this rainbow pop and Mentos experiment over and over again. Your kids will love it!
- five (or more or less!) 2L bottles of Fanta (in 5 different colors/flavors)
- one package of Mentos candy per bottle of Fanta (5 bottles = 5 packages!)
- ¼ cup of baking soda per bottle (5 bottles = 1¼ cups of baking soda)
- ¼ cup of vinegar per bottle (5 bottles = 1¼ cups of vinegar)
- ¼ cup of clear dishwashing liquid per bottle (5 bottles = 1¼ cups of dishwashing soap)
- 2 plastic party cups per bottle (5 bottles = 10 cups)
- level, washable surface (ie. laundry basket, small table with plastic table cloth, etc)
- large outdoor area
- video camera (for replay)
**Note: measurements for dishwashing soap, baking soda and vinegar are approximate**
- First, set up your video camera (or smartphone) so you can record the results and watch later. You can use a tripod or have someone else hold the camera.
- Set up your cups on your level surface — 2 per bottle of Fanta. So if you’re using 5 bottles, you’ll need 10 cups.
- For half the cups, open one package of Mentos candy per cup and pour in. For five cups, you’ll need 5 packages of candy, with one package’s worth in each cup.
- Add ¼ cup of baking soda to each cup of candy. Set aside.
- In the other half of the cups, pour equal amounts of Fanta. Use one flavor per cup. For five cups, you’ll need five flavors.
- Add ¼ cup of dishwashing liquid soap to each cup of pop.
- Add ¼ cup of vinegar to each cup of pop and soap.
- If you’re using, add in a few drops of matching-color food coloring to each cup (ie red food coloring to red Fanta). More food coloring means a more vivid experiment.
- When you’re ready, quickly add 1 cup of candy & baking soda mix to one cup of pop/soap/vinegar mix. Repeat for each pair, as fast as you can.
- Step back and watch the rainbow pop and Mentos experiment go!
You should see a shooting spray of bubbly, colored liquid come from each cup. It’s like a messy, liquid version of fireworks!
Try experimenting with different amounts of baking soda, vinegar, dishwashing soap, pop and Mentos. What changes? Compare the reactions. Which ingredient do you think makes the biggest difference?
Have fun with this rainbow pop and Mentos science experiment!