Mentos, Diet Coke, and Me

I’ll be the first to admit that I often look at things differently than other people. This was painfully obvious to me when I recently visited Eepy Bird and saw the video of the experiment involving 2 guys in lab coats, 400 liters of Diet Coke, and more than 500 Mentos. Some people find this hysterically funny. Not me. My first thought was, “Wow, these guys need to find some girls.”

Subsequent thinking followed this path:

  1. “Man, that must have taken a lot of time to set up” and
  2. “Why do Mentos and Diet Coke react like that?”

I still don’t know the answer to how long it took to set up, but the explosive reaction seems to have something to do with millions of microscopic nucleation sites on the surface of the Mentos that allow bubbles to form. Since these millions of nucleation sites are essentially birthing canals for the compressed air in the soda to create millions of bubbles, it disrupts the surface tension of the soda and – BOOM! (well, not really BOOM!, more like SWOOOSH!) – Diet Coke fountain.

I think this experiment is fairly safe to try at home. For their work, they drilled tiny holes through the middle of the Mentos, tied them together with string, and dropped them all in at the same time.

Oh, one word of caution: Don’t try this.

UPDATE: Sales of Mentos candy have nearly tripled in the last year, after five years of steady decline. This surge is attributed to the popularity of the various soda/Mentos experiment videos on the Internet. I’m not making this up.