Candy Science – Floating Letters

Delicious hands-on science that melts in your mouth, and dissolves in water.

M&Ms have the slogan of melting in your mouth, but not in your hands. You wanna know something cool? That special melting property is totally scientific. Certain parts of an M&M will dissolve in water, while others won’t. The results are an amazing phenomenon that we call Floating Letters.

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Experiment Materials

  • M&M candies
  • Clear glass or bowl
  • Water

Experiment Videos

Experiment

1

Place a few M&M’S in the bottom of your bowl. Keep the “m” facing up and spread them out as much as you can. They should be about equal distance from each other.

2

Slowly pour ROOM TEMPERATURE water into the cup to completely cover the candies.

3

Now, it is time to wait. Watch carefully and note the changes that you see taking place to each of the candies. This process will take about 20 minutes.

4

The color begins to dissolve and sink to the bottom. They might mix, too

5

As the M&Ms sit in the water, you will witness the colored dyes start to dissolve into the water. After a bit more time passes, you will see a translucent shell, along with the white “M” float to the surface of the water. Cool!

How Does It Work

Don’t worry, M&Ms are still the same delicious treat that you’ve always eaten. However, certain parts of the hard candy aren’t soluble in water and some are water-soluble. After a short time of soaking in the water, you begin to see the colored dyes from the M&Ms dissolve and mix together in the bowl. This lets you know that the dyes are, in fact, water soluble. However, the translucent shell and white “M” are not water soluble. That’s why, after 10-20 minutes, you witness this hardshell and “M” float in the water without break apart.

Take It Further

Want to try different colors? Try doing the experiment with Skittles candies!

Science Fair Connection

Preforming this Floating Letters experiment is pretty cool, but it isn’t a science fair project, yet. You can create a science fair project by identifying a variable, or something that changes, in this experiment. Let’s take a look at some of the variable options that might work:

How do things change if you use hot or cold water, instead of room temperature water?

What happens if you use other liquids like distilled water, vegetable oil, soda, salt water, milk, or juices?

That’s just one idea, but you aren’t limited to that! Try coming up with different ideas of variables and give them a try. Remember, you can only change one thing at a time. If you are testing the temperature of water make sure that the other factors are remaining the same!