Mentos + Soda = Explosion

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image Given the urban legend about kids eating pop rocks and soda, and then having their stomachs explode, I wouldn't have believed that mixing Mentos and soda could cause such a violent reaction. But after watching the video posted on WLTX's website, I do. (You need Windows Media Player to view it, and I had to click the "Trouble Viewing" button to make it work.) To summarize what the video shows, three Mentos are dropped into a bottle of soda, causing a geyser of soda to shoot up about three or four feet high out of the bottle. This really makes me wonder what would happen if you drank a can of soda and then downed a pack of Mentos. Personally I'm not planning to find out. I'm sure it wouldn't kill you, but I imagine it would fizz up into your throat and nose. WLTX provides this scientific explanation for the phenomenon:

Mentos contains a chemical known as ARABIC GUM (this is the ingredient that makes the mint "chewy"). This ingredient causes the surface tension of the water molecules to break even more easily, releasing more carbon dioxide gas at an astounding rate! .....The gas causes pressure to rapidly build inside the bottle which thrusts the soda upwards in a wonderful fountain-like BLAST!


Posted on Fri Sep 23, 2005


Funny, about two nights ago I happened to stumble across a link to what looked like video from a different TV station's news show in which the demonstrator used Wintergreen Life Savers to do the same thing. The difference was that he didn't say that gum arabic was the cause; according to him, it is "tiny imperfections" in the surface of the Life Savers that the bubbles form around. I'm not saying this is Gospel, but that's what the guy said (and demonstrated).

He also showed how you can open up a shaken soda can if you first tap the sides of the can once or twice. Same principle: the bubbles form around imperfections on the sides of the can, supposedly. Let the flame war begin!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  06:39 PM
You can make soda pop fizz by dropping many things into it. Try a couple of sugar cubes sometime. I'm not convinced that gum arabic (not "arabic gum") is the culprit.

As for tapping on the top, it also works if you tap on your own forehead. Try it and see.
Posted by George W. Bush  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  07:50 PM
But George, I don't think I want to open my own head. big surprise
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  08:56 PM
The claim about gum arabic is strange, because some soft drinks also contain gum arabic or similar gums and resins.
I kid you not. Try reading all the ingredients lists on the cans of pop in the store sometime.
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  08:59 PM
Okay.. so... I got suckered into this.

600ml bottle of Diet Pepsi + 1 Mentos = no more 600ml's of Diet Pepsi.

It was interesting to see, I did it in a mall parking lot, at night, and nobody really had any idea what I was doing.

I want to do it with a bigger bottle...

God I need a life.
Posted by Andrew  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  10:02 PM
Open a can of soda, and heat it to body temperature, then see how much carbonation is left.

Now, a carbonated lake, that is dangerous...
Posted by Splarka  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  12:59 AM
You know what? A "carbonated lake" would make a pretty good urban legend. Let's spread it!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  01:18 AM
Have some balls for god's sakes it in an airport terminal.
Posted by Big G  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  10:35 AM
Actually, the 'tapping the can' thing is only signifigant on *old* cans of soda. Modern cans are coated on the insides. A shaken can will de-fizz *by itself* in about fifteen seconds, no matter what you do to it.

I can imagine buying a lot of cheap 'store brand' sodas and having Mentos-Cannon fights...

For real fun, try this *indoors*, with club soda. Since it doesn't stain or get sticky... Hmm.. thoughts..
Posted by Bobcat  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  12:04 PM

very similar, yet very cool.

I suspect the only reason it "shoots" out is because of the shape of the bottle. I think if that was just in a very big container, it would just fizz a whole lot.

I can't wait to do this. I should make a super-bottle that's huge and pour a ton of Sprite or some equally fizzy drink into it and use like 10 packs of mentos.
Posted by Archibold  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  06:38 PM
this is the most awsome thing ever.
i cant wiat to do this at school.
cool smirk
Posted by Nightmare  in  Formaly ED  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  06:44 PM

its all the same
Posted by Nightmare  in  Formaly ED  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  06:45 PM
Cool video, but I'd say the explanation is false, although not a deliberate lie. Carbon dioxide is dissolved in the cola and not 'held in' by surface tension, which, IIRC, is the effect of weak hydrogen bonding. No hydrogen in carbon dioxide, so surface tension doesn't affect it. The 'imperfections in the surface' thing sounds equally dubious; I think there's a tendency of guys to just make up a scientific explanation that sounds right to them, and believe that. I know I do it. smile
Posted by Steve  on  Sun Sep 25, 2005  at  03:32 AM
My feeling is that the gum arabic might be a bit of a red herring.

It is not a chemical reaction - I had thought it was an acid/alkali reaction going on (like when you mix bicarbonate of soda and vinegar) but the ingredients of both Mentos and Soda seem quite similar.

Fizzy drinks contain carbon dioxide that was dissolved under higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. So when you open a soda pop, you release the pressure, and the "excess" gas forms bubbles within the liquid.

If you provide any surface area at all for a fizzy drink to lie against, bubbles of carbon dioxide gas start to form on the solid surface - as the bubbles get large enough, they float to the liquid surface and pop - you can see that if you pour some into a clear glass. More solid surface area = more places for the bubbles to form.

Adding anything to a fizzy drink enables more bubbles to form and more bubbles to escape. Try stirring soad with a spoon - it gets less fizzy. Or dropping in a couple of raisins or grape seeds. So, I'm guessing that the Mentos (and I've never come in contact with them, so don't know what they look like) provide lots of surface area very quickly - maybe they break apart very quickly to form a high surface area?

What happens with dropping marbles in? Or pieces of cork? What's special about the Mentos?
Posted by Scott Keir  in  UK  on  Sun Sep 25, 2005  at  05:54 PM
The ammount of carbon dioxide that will dissolve in water increases in proportion to the atmosperic pressure. If the pressure drops, the CO2 will come out of solution and form bubbles around nucleation sites.
As the stomach is usualy sealed, any increase in nucleation sites (adding mentos) will initialy cause an increase in nucleation. This will cause a bubble of CO2 to form in the stomach, increasing the pressure in the stomach. If the stomach does not expand, the bubble will grow until the pressure matches the amount of CO2 that will dissolve, at which point no more bubbles will form.
Of course, the stomach is both capable of expanding, and equiped with a pressure release mechanism, so this is perfectly safe.

To see the effect of nucleation sites, pour vegetable oil into a tumbler, and swirl until an even coating of oil is on the inside of the tumbler. If you pour a carbonated drink into the tumbler, no bubbles will form, as there are no nucleation sites. Adding a pinch of granulated sugar will result in an explosive fizzing.
Posted by Daniel  on  Mon Sep 26, 2005  at  05:01 AM
Another example of this effect is the ol' champagne/punch trick. In that one, you prank a bowl of punch (made with a carbonated beverage) or some champagne by throwing in a lot of finely granulated sugar. And what do you get? Lots of fizzing and fun!
Posted by TheMatt  on  Mon Sep 26, 2005  at  01:51 PM
i think that is really cool with the whole soda thing when i was 13 i was eatin so mentoes and i took a drink of my pepsi and it sprayed out of my noes it hurt so bad. My kids have done it also but they used the flavored kind of mentos
Posted by Brittany  in  nevada  on  Tue Oct 04, 2005  at  10:31 AM
Er...what are Mentos?
Posted by Mr Henderson  in  UK  on  Tue Oct 04, 2005  at  03:19 PM
They are the "Fresh Maker"
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Wed Oct 05, 2005  at  08:08 AM
Posted by Brittany  in  nevada  on  Wed Oct 05, 2005  at  10:11 AM
sorry my kid was on any who do you think that the arabic gum has every thing to do with the explosin
Posted by Brittany  in  nevada  on  Wed Oct 05, 2005  at  10:23 AM
Im sure Nightmare will fill us in....
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Wed Oct 05, 2005  at  03:17 PM
In Answer to Archibold...
In a larger-mouthed container, the pop does just what you think. It fizzes out and isn't that cool. try popping a cork or stopper in the top right after dropping the object in.

The smaller the opening, the higher the fountain.....
Posted by Mike Mike Mike Mike  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  09:11 PM
What if you could drop them in and get the top screwed back on before it started spouting. Would the pop bottle expand and explode like with toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil?
Posted by melman  in  KS  on  Tue Oct 18, 2005  at  10:43 AM
This is fake. Because I have tried this... inside my body! nothing hapenned.I felt just fine. you=wrong
Posted by Flare  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  09:46 PM
It will "shoot" much longer and higher if you just make a hole in the center of the cap, but you'll need to think of a different way to drop the mentos in, I used a kind of bead constuction smile with some dental floss, stuck to the inside and the other end comming out
Posted by Daniel  in  Tegelen  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  10:05 AM
Yeah I have tried this before I actually knew about this effect (eating mentos and drinking soda) It does absolutley nothing to you. So just keep eating and drinking the mentos and soda as much as you want.

The real thing with mentos is that it really does make you cool and slick. It seems that everything that you do will come out ok when you eat mentos.
Just look at the commercials. It has to be true right?
Posted by All Tweeked Up!!!  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  11:16 AM
My science techer did this in class today with a room temperature 2L bottle of Diet Pepsi and a whole pack of the white mentos. She did it inside of the class and it hit the roof that was a good 12 feet up! It was funny because I had a front row seat and as it was exploding I had to pull my desk back in a hurry so as to not get hit.

She told us that it was the aspartame in the Diet Pepsi that caused the reaction. We were also told that it has to be room temperature if you want a huge explosion. I'm not sure if this works with regular pop because of a lack of aspartame, but I definately want to do this when I get home! =)
Posted by Ryan  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  05:27 PM
A carbonated lake definitely is dangerous
see: Cameroon lage disaster, 1986
Posted by Nadine  on  Fri Nov 18, 2005  at  03:45 AM
Dear Rian

Ask your science teacher to repeat the experiment with both diet Pepsi (contains Aspartam) and regular Pepsi (no Aspartam), side by side - this should disprove the aspartame hypothesis pretty quickly. The main advantage of using diet Pepsi is that the mess it produces is not quite as sticky, although plain carbonated water would serve as well.

To prove that it is the CO2 in the beverage that produces the "explosion", you can do the experiment with one bottle that has been left to warm up to room temperature while closed, while a second bottle is left uncapped for the same time, allowing the CO2 to escape. This second bottle should not react.

This is how we scientists test out which possible explanation for the phenomena we observe is the correct one.
Posted by Nadine  on  Fri Nov 18, 2005  at  04:00 AM
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