Why Do Pop Rocks Explode When Mixed With Soda?

Written by kathy adams
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Why Do Pop Rocks Explode When Mixed With Soda?
Pop Rocks plus soda equals a soda geyser. (Coca Cola auf Eis image by Andreas Bleul from Fotolia.com)

Pop Rocks, the quintessential candy known for popping and fizzing when placed in your mouth, are an Internet video sensation thanks to a science experiment with soda. When Pop Rocks are added to soda in a bottle, the soda shoots into the air like a geyser. Other candies mixed into soda do not cause this reaction. So why do Pop Rocks cause an eruption? It all about carbon dioxide

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Pop Rocks: an Edible Science Experiment

Pop rocks contain many of the same ingredients found in other manufactured candies: sugar, flavouring and corn syrup. Unlike other candies, pop rocks has an added special ingredient which gives it the pop factor: carbon dioxide. When the candy is hot and being formed at the factory, carbon dioxide gas is added to the sugary mixture under extreme pressure. When you eat the candy, it melts in your mouth, releasing the pockets of pressurised carbon dioxide, causing that exploding sensation Pop Rocks are known for. Pop Rocks will also pop if you crush them.

Soda Science

Soda is a carbonated beverage, meaning there's carbon dioxide gas mixed in with the liquid. Carbon dioxide gas is what gives a soda its fizz. The carbon dioxide in a bottle of soda is highly pressurised, which is why soda will sometimes squirt out of the bottle if you shake it before opening.

Why Do Pop Rocks Explode When Mixed With Soda?
Carbon dioxide gives soda its fizz (soda machine image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

Pop Rocks Plus Soda Equals Geyser

Both Pop Rocks and soda contain carbon dioxide. Adding Pop Rocks to soda releases the trapped gas within the candy and also within the soda itself. Since the soda's carbon dioxide is highly pressurised, it shoots out of the bottle since that's the one place for the gas to go.

Is This Mixture Harmful?

Drinking a soda while eating Pop Rocks probably won't permanently harm you, but it could cause a lot of bloating, gas and discomfort. It's not recommended.

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