Wintergreen Lifesavers Soda Geyser
Candy and soda together is a great way to make an erupting, foaming, sticky mess.
Shaking a soda to make it foam and erupt is yesterday’s news. Simply drop a roll of Wint O Green® Life Savers® into a bottle of warm soda and step back. A foaming surge of sticky soda will erupt very quickly!
Life Savers® and Wint O Green® are registered trademarks of the Wrigley Division of Mars Inc.
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- 2-liter bottle of regular soda
- 2-liter bottle of diet soda (no sugar means less of a sticky mess)
- Roll of Wint O Green Life Savers
- Towels (and maybe a mop to clean up the mess)
- Adult supervision
Note: This is an outside activity! Do it on a level area of a lawn or pavement. Before opening it, make sure the bottle is stable and won’t tip over.
Open the bottle of regular soda. It’s best if the soda is at room temperature.
Unwrap six of the Life Savers and hold them in a stack in such a way that all of them will fall through the bottle opening at once.
If the individual candies are bigger than the opening of the bottle, break them into smaller chunks on a piece of paper. Roll the paper into a tube so it will fit into the opening. Hold your hand on the bottom of the tube and hold the tube near the opening.
When the candy (or the paper tube) is positioned over the opening, release it so all the Life Savers drop at once into the soda. At the same time, step back from the bottle to avoid getting sprayed and so that everyone can see the foaming mess.
The crowd erupts right along with the soda and someone always yells, “Do it again!” Why not?! Here’s your chance to teach someone else how to create a soda geyser.
Repeat the eruption except use diet soda. Compare how high this fountain shoots compared to the regular soda. Which eruption lasts longer? Why might you see these differences?
How Does It Work
If you have one, use a magnifying glass to look closely at the surface of a Wint O Green Life Saver. You can probably see thousands of very tiny pits (called nucleation sites) all over the surface of the candy. These sites are one of the keys to all of the soda geysers you’ll ever make. The pits are ideal for repeatedly and rapidly creating huge amounts of tiny CO2 bubbles. The candies also tend to sink to the bottom of the bottle. That means in order to get out, all those gas bubbles on the candy have to push all that liquid ahead of them. It makes for a great fountain of liquid and foam!
Researchers – yes, even experts have studied this reaction – looking at a soda geyser have identified other key parts of the chemistry involved. Several of the ingredients in the soda itself actually help in the formation and release of the gas bubbles, too. Some of the ingredients act like a “soap” that increases bubble production greatly. By the way, after an eruption, the soda has a faint, minty flavor and the Life Saver pieces are still very tasty. Enjoy!
Take It Further
There’s a lot to say about the original soda geyser activity. It has been around a very long time… and for good reasons, too. Check it out on the Mentos Soda Explosion page.
Science Fair Connection
There are a variety of tests and measurements you can make using this activity that are perfect fits for a science fair project. You might be wondering about how to determine which soda brand is best for a geyser or how many candies to use for the highest geyser or how the temperature of the soda might change the geyser.
Do your research, ask a question, and suggest a hypothesis to answer the question. Plan and conduct an experiment and gather the data that come from it. Study the observations and determine if the data support the hypothesis or not. If they do, you’re set to make a conclusion. If they don’t support it, explain why and suggest other experiments that will test other variables. Just remember that an experiment is all about the data collected. It has nothing to do with you being right or wrong in the hypothesis.
If you plan to measure the height of a geyser by marking a wall, be sure to get permission of the property owner first. Be sure to have help using a ladder of any kind. Always clean up the mess so no one can tell you were even there.