The hands-on experiment involves dropping several Mentos Chewy Mints into a bottle of Diet Coke, which can cause a stream of the diet cola to shoot many feet into the air within seconds.
In an email, VERIFY viewer James asked if putting Mentos into any soda can also cause an explosion.
James, the VERIFY team loved this question, and loves experiments. So we decided to not only get the answer from sources, but also test it ourselves. Read on to see what happened.
Can putting Mentos into any soda make it explode?
- American Chemical Society (ACS)
- ReAgent, UK chemical manufacturing company
- Compound Interest, an educational website that features graphics of everyday chemical compounds and concepts
- A study published in the Journal of Chemical Education
- Frank Bates, Sc.D., Regents professor of chemical engineering and materials science at the University of Minnesota
- An experiment conducted by the VERIFY team
Yes, putting Mentos into any soda can make it explode, but some sodas are more explosive than others depending on their ingredients.
WHAT WE FOUND
VERIFY host Ariane Datil and producer/editor Trevin Smith put this science experiment to the test — one soda and explosion at a time.
In a big backyard with plenty of open space, Ariane dropped a roll of Mentos Chewy Mints into two-liter bottles of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Mountain Dew, Canada Dry ginger ale and Sunkist orange soda. Almost immediately, each soda geyser exploded high into the air — and drenched Ariane.
Other studies backed up what the VERIFY team saw in our experiment. A 2017 study conducted by a team of researchers who dropped Mentos into 15 different carbonated beverages, including seltzer water, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Diet Pepsi, and Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper, also found that the combination can cause an explosion.
So, we can VERIFY that putting Mentos into any soda can make it explode. But let’s really dig into the science to show you why this happens.
Mentos, the makers of Mentos Chewy Mints, explains on its website that soda and other fizzy drinks contain a certain amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is dissolved in water in the form of tiny bubbles or carbonation. The combination of water and CO2 molecules is in a permanently unstable state — but when a Mentos candy falls into the soda, that state is disturbed.
“The more Mentos that are dropped into the liquid, the more this state is aggravated,” Mentos said. “The reason for this lies in the surface of a Mentos, which looks smooth, but is actually very rough! Within the nooks and crannies of the microscopic rough surface, bubbles form, which are in turn transformed into foam, which then lead to very impressive foam fountains.”
In VERIFY’s experiment, we found that some Mentos and soda combinations can cause a bigger explosion.
ReAgent, a UK-based chemical manufacturing company, explains in a blog post that there are many factors that can affect the height of a soda geyser, such as the viscosity of the liquid and the presence of other chemicals in the mixture, like caffeine and gelatin. For example, if you drop a marble into two types of soda at the same time, it will take longer for the marble to hit the bottom in the drink that has the higher viscosity.
What does that mean for our experiment? ReAgent says that diet sodas, like Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Diet Cherry Pepper, react better with Mentos than other non-diet sodas because of the absence of sugar. Most diet sodas contain aspartame, a zero-calorie chemical that makes the drink less viscous. That means the Mentos move faster when you drop them into the bottle, interacting with more CO2, which means more bubbles.
“A lack of sugar makes the soda mixture less viscous, given the presence of sweeteners, like aspartame, lowering the surface tension even more than usual. This, in turn, means that the carbon dioxide gas is more rapidly released. The nucleation process is also faster, leading to higher gas pressure,” ReAgent writes on its website.
If you want to try the Mentos and soda geyser experiment for yourself, scientists recommend doing the activity outside in the middle of a field or a huge lawn because things can get a bit messy. To see more footage from VERIFY’s own experiment — including the bloopers — visit VERIFY’s YouTube channel.
Host: Ariane Datil
Videography/Editing: Trevin Smith
Graphics: Amie Casaldi
Digital writer: Erin Jones
Social media: Amanda Lashbaugh
Editors: Sara Roth, Lindsay Claiborn, Erica Jones, Jonathan Forsythe