Soda can experiments have been fascinating people for years. Something about smelling that delicious smell of carbon mixed with a giant jet of soda always makes people excited. Not only are soda experiments fun, but they also are a great way to teach science principles such as gas laws and types of chemical reactions.
Two main types of soda explosions include the often accidental exploding can trick, and the classic Mentos and Diet Coke method. Here you will find instructions on both, and it will be up to you to decide which method you like best!
This Instructable was made at my cousins house, where there is a great stone patio which is optimal for these two experiments.
Step 1: Can Bomb-Materials
The exploding can experiment demonstrates one of the key laws of physical science in the behavior of gases. The Gay-Lussac's Law states that for a set amount of gas with a constant volume, the pressure will increase or decrease as the temperature increases or decreases. Therefore our hypothesis is that if a can of soda is heated enough, the carbon gas inside will expand, causing pressure to rise and make the can, which doesn't change in volume, explode.
For the exploding can experiment you will need:
-A portable plug in stovetop or outdoor fire.
-Can(s) of cheap soda (no need to waste the good stuff).
-Extension cord (optional).
-A safe hiding spot at least ten feet away from the test site. (Sometimes shrapnel can break off of the can, so I watched from behind a tree).
Step 2: Exploding Can- Setup
Plug in the stove at least three feet from a wall on a raised flat surface. Set the temperature to "high." Be extremely careful around the hot coils of the stovetop. You can get badly burned.
Step 3: Exploding Can- Initiation
Shake up the soda can and place it on the stove. Make sure it is in a stable position! Then, get to your hiding spot.
Step 4: The Explosion
After a few (5 to 20) minutes, the gas in the can will expand, causing it to fall off the stove. Then, a second or two later, the top of the can will give way, causing soda to fly out and propel the can away.
The first video shows the last 30 seconds of the heating of the can. I have to admit when the can popped off the stove it caught me off guard (hence the sudden jolt). The can landed seven feet from the stove, and I witnessed soda landing at least five feet away in the opposite direction as well, bringing the total maximum blast radius to about 12-13 feet.
Step 5: How the Can Explodes- Step by Step
Step 1) As the Gay-Lussac's law takes action, the heating of the can causes the carbon pressure to rise substantially, while the volume of the can stays the same.
Step 2) After a while the pressure builds so much that the bottom of the can puffs outwards, knocking the can off the stove.
Step 3) After the can falls off, pressure levels are still rising to a point where the can can no longer contain the carbon gas. The weakest part of the can, (in this case the top), gives way first, allowing the soda to fly out and send the can across the yard.
Step 6: Exploding Can- Clean Up
After repeating the experiment the desired amount of times, dispose of all cans in the garbage/recycling bin. Next, turn the stove off, then unplug it, first at the extension cord (if any), then at the wall. Let the stove cool, then pick it up by the handles to take it inside. You don't want to get heat blisters like I did.
Step 7: Mentos and Diet Coke Experiment
The Mentos and Diet Coke experiment has long been a classic way to demonstrate the key principles of a small scale chemical reaction. As the mint is mixed with the soda, the carbon reacts with certain ingredients in the Mento, and bubbles of carbon gas expand, causing the bottle to explode. Thus our hypothesis is: If one Mento is dropped into a bottle of Diet Coke, the gas will expand and cause the bottle to explode, or at least leak rapidly.
To perform this experiment you will need:
-Mentos candies (of any kind, but preferably mint).
-Diet Coke or Coke Zero, in a bottle.
-Tape (of any kind).
Step 8: Mentos: Crushing
Remove one Mento mint from the package, and place it on the ground. Next, step on it to crush it slightly. An alternative method would be to chew it, but stepping on it is a little bit more hygienic, as saliva doesn't get into the soda.
Step 9: Mentos: Applying
Wrap a small piece of tape around the Mento mint, and tape it inside the cap. Next, screw the cap back on to the bottle. The mint should stay in place.
Step 10: The (Nonexistent) Explosion
Shake up the bottle, and throw it relatively forcefully against the ground. Hopefully the bottle will explode or at least leak substantially. Unfortunately my test only yielded a small leak and a slight hissing sound from the bottle (hence the thumbs down in the video). Maybe if thrown harder the bottle will do more.
After the experiment is over, pour out all the remaining soda, and dispose of the bottle in the garbage/recycling bin.
Step 11: Review- Both Experiments
In hindsight, both experiments went rather well. Both tests underwent a noticeable change, and they each had the expected reaction in comparison with the hypotheses.
However, the soda can explosion experiment yielded much more measurable results than the Mentos experiment. We can actually go back and lay out the steps of the explosion, and we can see just how far the can and soda spray went. All of these things weren't possible with the Mentos experiment.
On the other hand, the Mentos experiment yielded much more immediate results, with the bottle starting to fizz as soon as the bottle was shaken. In contrast, the cans took twenty minutes at times to show any affect at all.
All in all, both tests were successful, in their own rights. My personal preference: the soda can trick. What is your favorite? Don't decide yet- try them both out for yourself, and tell me! I'm sure you'll have as much fun as I did!
-I am not affiliated with Coke, Coca-Cola, Mentos, or any other brand mentioned, shown, or implied in this Instructable.
-I am not responsible for any problems, damage, or injury caused by these experiments.