What you'll need:
- Large bottle of Diet Coke
- About half a pack of Mentos
- Geyser tube (optional but makes things much easier)
- Make sure you are doing this experiment in a place where you won't get in trouble for getting Diet Coke everywhere. Outside on some grass is perfect, please don't try this one in your family lounge!!
- Stand the Diet Coke upright and unscrew the lid. Put some sort of funnel or tube on top of it so you can drop the Mentos in at the same time (about half the pack is a good amount). Doing this part can be tricky if you don't have a specially designed geyser tube, I recommend buying one from a local store such as Natures Discoveries (NZ) or online.
- Time for the fun part, drop the Mentos into the Diet Coke and run like mad! If you've done it properly a huge geyser of Diet Coke should come flying out of the bottle, it's a very impressive sight. The record is about 9 metres (29 feet) high!
Although there are a few different theories around about how this experiment works, the most favoured reason is because of the combination of carbon dioxide in the Diet Coke and the little dimples found on Mentos candy pieces.
The thing that makes soda drinks bubbly is the carbon dioxide that is pumped in when they bottle the drink at the factory. It doesn't get released from the liquid until you pour it into a glass and drink it, some also gets released when you open the lid (more if you shake it up beforehand). This means that there is a whole lot of carbon dioxide gas just waiting to escape the liquid in the form of bubbles.
Dropping something into the Diet Coke speeds up this process by both breaking the surface tension of the liquid and also allowing bubbles to form on the surface area of the Mentos. Mentos candy pieces are covered in tiny dimples (a bit like a golf ball), which dramatically increases the surface area and allows a huge amount of bubbles to form.
The experiment works better with Diet Coke than other sodas due to its slightly different ingredients and the fact that it isn't so sticky. I also found that Diet Coke that had been bottled more recently worked better than older bottles that might have lost some of their fizz sitting on shop shelves for too long, just check the bottle for the date.