Educational videos - Diet coke and mentos experiment

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Tuesday, 11/10/2016 11:10

Let's check out to see what happens when you put mentos in a bottle of diet coke or soda. Diet coke and mentos experiment and the reasons why they react like that. Educational videos

So why is that? Why Diet Coke and Mentos react so strongly to one another, well, wonder no more.

To start, it should be noted that it’s not just Diet Coke and Mentos that “react”; other carbonated beverages will also readily respond to the addition of Mentos.  What’s going on here is that Mentos has thousands of small pores on its surface disrupting the polar attractions between the water molecules, creating thousands of ideal nucleation sites for the gas molecules in the drink to congregate. In non-sciency terms, basically, this porous surface creates a lot of bubble growth sites, allowing the carbon dioxide bubbles to rapidly form on the surface of the Mentos.  If you use a smooth surfaced Mentos, you won’t get nearly the reaction.

The buoyancy of the bubbles and their growth in size will quickly cause the bubbles to leave the nucleation site and rise to the surface of the soda drink.  Bubbles will continue to form on the porous surface and the process will repeat, creating a nice foamy result.

Diet coke and mentos experiment

Diet coke and mentos experiment

In addition to that, the gum arabic / gelatin ingredients of the Mentos, combined with the potassium benzoate, sugar or (potentially) aspartame, in Diet sodas, also help in this process.  In these cases, the ingredients end up lowering the surface tension of the liquid, allowing for even more rapid bubble growth on the porous surface of the Mentos: higher surface tension = more difficult environment for bubbles to form.  (For your reference, compounds like gum arabic that lower surface tension are called “surfactants”).

As to why diet sodas like Diet Coke produce such a bigger reaction, it’s because aspartame lowers the surface tension of the liquid much more than sugar or corn syrup will.  You can also increase the effect by adding more surfactants to the soda before you add the Mentos, like adding a mixture of dishwasher soap and water.

Mentos and diet coke experiment and reaction

Mentos and diet coke experiment and reaction

Another factor contributing to the size of the geyser is how rapidly the object causing the foaming sinks in the soda.  The faster it sinks, the faster the reaction can happen, and faster reaction =  bigger geyser; slower reaction may release the same amount of foam overall, but also a much smaller geyser.  This is another reason Mentos works so much better than other similar confectioneries.  Mentos are fairly dense objects and so tend to sink rapidly in the liquid.  If you crush the Mentos, so it doesn’t sink much at all, you won’t get nearly the dramatic reaction.

The temperature of the soda itself also matters. The higher the temperature, the bigger the geyser due to gases being less soluble in liquids with a higher temperature.  So, basically, they are more “ready” to escape the liquid, resulting in a faster reaction.

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