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Exploding Mentos Drink

Fizzy Mentos Drink

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This is a glass of diet cola. It's fizzy, but not exactly dangerous.

This is a glass of diet cola. It's fizzy, but not exactly dangerous.

Anne Helmenstine
A friend sent me a link to a Wired how-to project called "The Manhattan Project" in which you freeze a Mentos candy into an ice cube and place it in a carbonated drink. When the ice cube melts, the wax surrounding the candy will be exposed and the drink should erupt. Does it work? Let's find out.

Exploding Mentos Drink Ingredients

The drink in the original recipe called for whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters (basically a Manhattan plus diet cola), but you can make a rum and coke or whatever you like or just try the non-alcoholic version using two ingredients:
  • diet cola
  • a Mentos™ candy

Make the Exploding Drink

I'll tell you right up front: this drink won't explode unless it is in an enclosed container. Exploding drinks make messes, plus they tend to spray out shards of glass, so it's a good thing this drink isn't so violent. 'Erupting' is more what you're looking for here. If you want to cause an unexpected eruption, freeze a single Mentos candy into the well of an ice cube tray. The premise is that the Mentos will become exposed as the ice cube melts. When the wax coating of the candy reacts with the diet soda, the drink will fizz and bubble like the classic Mentos and diet soda fountain. If you're doing the project on-purpose or else don't mind getting caught dropping a Mentos into someone's carbonated drink, you can simply plop the candy in sans ice cube.

What Happens

Among other things, the gum arabic that coats a Mentos candy lowers the surface tension of the soda, allowing carbon dioxide bubbles to rise and expand more easily. The candy coating traps the gas, forming bubbles and foam. When I tried this project, I didn't get a spectacular eruption, but you can expect somewhat better results if you use a narrow glass for your drink. Except that the Mentos flavors the drink, I don't think someone with a Mentos-laced ice cube would notice much happening or suffer from an out-of-control foaming drink. The project is still pretty fun.

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