Pop Rocks Expander - Candy Science
If you are a candy enthusiast, like a lot of the people at Spangler Labs, you know that not all candies are created equal. And, if we're being honest, Pop Rocks are one of the greatest candies of all time! You dump a few of the tiny pebbles onto your tongue and, in an instant, they begin fizzing, popping, and snapping about in your mouth. What's going on here? Being scientists, we devised a way to figure out the popping secret behind the famous candy. Are you ready to expand your mind (as well as a few balloons)?
- Pop Rocks(try to find multiple flavors)
- 12-16 oz bottles of soda?(the greater soda variety, the better)
- The first item of business is to get an entire package of Pop Rocks into a balloon. You might be able to carefully pour the candies into the balloon's mouth, but we have found that it's much easier if you use a small funnel. Place the narrow end of the funnel into the mouth of the balloon and empty the Pop Rocks packet into the funnel. Make sure all the candies are in the balloon by giving the funnel a few firm taps.
- Place the balloon over the mouth of a bottle of soda. Careful! You don't want the Pop Rocks to drop into the soda before you're ready. Stretch the mouth of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle, but make sure the valuable candy content of the balloon doesn't dump into the soda.
- Are you ready? Grab the balloon and dump the Pop Rocks into the soda. Make sure to observe what's happening inside the soda as the liquid reacts with the candies. The balloon should be inflating, even if the change is only very slight.
How Does It Work?
The secret behind the famous "popping" of Pop Rocks candy is pressurized carbon dioxide gas. Each of the tiny little candy pebbles contains a small amount of the gas. These tiny carbon dioxide bubbles make the popping sound you hear when they burst free from their candy shells. Need more proof? Try finding a relatively large Pop Rock and using a spoon to break it against a hard surface. Once you achieve enough pressure, you should hear a similar "pop" to the sound you hear with a Pop Rock on your tongue.
So what causes the balloon to inflate? The carbon dioxide contained in the candy isn't enough to cause even the small amount of inflation you observe in the experiment. That's where the soda comes into play. The soda also contains pressurized carbon dioxide gas (it's why we call soda a carbonated beverage). When the Pop Rocks are dropped into the soda, some carbon dioxide is able to escape from the high fructose corn syrup of the soda and, because the carbon dioxide gas has no where to go in the bottle, it rises into the balloon.
Science Fair Connection:
Want to make the Pop Rocks Expander into a science fair project? That's a fantastic idea! There are a number of different variables that you can choose to get that blue ribbon. Remember though, whatever variable you choose, you need to keep everything else the same.
- Test whether the temperature of soda makes a difference in the amount of carbon dioxide released.
- Try testing different types (or brands) of soda to see which releases the most carbon dioxide gas.
- Test different Pop Rocks flavors to see if the flavor changes the amount of carbon dioxide in the balloon.
Those are just a few of the possible variables that you could use, but you're super creative...try coming up with your own!
How are Pop Rocks Made?
According to information from the manufacturer, Pop Rocks start like any other hard candy by combining sugar, lactose (milk sugar), corn syrup, and flavoring. These ingredients are heated to the boiling point and the hot sugar mixture is mixed with carbon dioxide gas under high pressure (about 600 pounds per square inch). The process causes tiny high pressure bubbles of carbon dioxide gas to form in the candy.
When the hot candy mixture cools and the pressure of the gas is released, the hard candy shatters into tiny pieces of carbonated candy. If you look carefully at the candy under a magnifying glass, you'll see the tiny bubbles - each containing a small amount of carbon dioxide gas under high pressure (600 PSI). When the candy melts in your mouth, the 600 PSI bubbles of gas are released with a loud popping sound. Very cool!
- pop rocks exploding candy Review by Sara
I tried this experiment for a class of mine, and everyone loved it!! I had so many people come to me and tell me that my experiment was the best of all. I got an A+, so I couldn't have asked for a better project to do!!
(Posted on January 27, 2011)
- great Review by kelsy
i am so using this as my science experiment it is so cool thanks for posting this
(Posted on October 9, 2011)
- Epic fail Review by alex catalan
i just did this experiment with my science partner in advanced science and we failed big time! We did exactly what the video did but the were no gases that went to the balloon
(Posted on September 13, 2010)
- hmmm Review by tatum
i havent tried this for a science fair project im only in 5th grade should i do it?
(Posted on October 8, 2009)
- that was so cool :] Review by jonathan
I love this experiment
(Posted on March 10, 2012)
- Fun Review by julia
this was a really cool video. i loved it.
(Posted on August 27, 2009)
- awsomeness Review by imani
i love this project total success
(Posted on September 28, 2012)
- AWESOME! Review by Jasleen Kahlon
I am Jasleen Kahlon. I am in 5th level.
I am 10. This website is awesome! Not only this page, but the fake snow, too! Pop Rocks are easy to find here in Ormond beach, Florida. I've tasted every flavor, including Pumkin Patch Orange
(Posted on November 15, 2010)
- Kindergarten Loves Pop Rocks! Review by Karol Scott
I performed this experiment with my kindergarteners set into four groups with their lab coats and goggles, sooooo cuuute! Just hearing the loud wows and "Whoa" from them spoke volumes! ;-)
(Posted on February 6, 2013)
- AWESOME Review by Matthew
its easy and fun to do
(Posted on January 31, 2011)