Introduction: Pop Rocks!

Picture of Pop Rocks!

Pop Rocks!  Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admit these tiny candy crystals pack a neat little punch.  This candy takes me straight back to my childhood!  They can be hard to find sometimes, so here's how you can make a similar substitute with some surprisingly common ingredients.  

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

Picture of Gather Ingredients

~ 2 Cups Sugar
~ 1 Tsp Baking Soda 
~ 1/4 Cup Citric Acid Crystals (Can be tricky to find.  If your local gourmet/country store doesn't have them, try here .)
~ 1/3 Cup  of Corn Syrup
~ Small amount of Water (Just enough to get sugar wet)
~ 1/4-1 Tsp Flavoring     (any extract will work. Use what you like! When using stronger flavors such as cinnamon, mint, and cherry, you can use a small amount (about 1/4 teaspoon). Subtler flavors such as lemon, strawberry, orange, and peach require more (1/2 to 1 teaspoon.)
~ A Few Drops of Food Coloring of your choice
~ Candy Thermometer (Make sure it is properly calibrated.  Put some water on to boil and put your thermo. in.  Bring the water up to boil and see what the temp. is when it starts boiling.  You may have to adjust the paper inside to set boiling point to 212°F.  Then you know it's ready to go.) 
~ Medium sized Saucepan
~ Whisk
~ Pastry brush
~ Powdered Sugar
~ Large Cookie Sheet
~ Zip-top plastic bag
~ Blunt Instrument ( i.e. hammer, brick, lead pipe, etc.)

Step 2: Candy Making Time!

Picture of Candy Making Time!

~ Prepare all items before you start.  Dust the cookie sheet with the powdered sugar, and sprinkle a generous amount of the Citric Acid on the sugar.  

~Combine Sugar, Water, and Corn Syrup, in the saucepan.  Place pan over Medium heat.  Stir gently and well to prevent splashing on the sides.  Sugar crystals might form on the sides of the pan. If so, wipe down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush. Even one crystal can encourage growth of more. As soon as the syrup starts to boil, STOP stirring.  At this point, you have dissolved the crystal structure of the sugar. Stirring or other agitation is one of the many factors that can encourage the fructose and glucose molecules in your syrup to rejoin and form sucrose—crystals of sugar.  It needs to be smooth.  That's also why it's important to use the Corn Syrup.  Corn Syrup acts as an "interfering agent" in this and many other candy recipes. It contains long chains of glucose molecules that tend to keep the sucrose molecules in the syrup from crystallizing.

~Here comes the hard part.  This is a SLOW process.  Be patient and whatever you do, DO NOT turn the heat up. Medium is perfect for this.   You might be tempted to, but trust me.  It'll get there.  This is a good time to tell the kids to go play. 

~ Place the candy thermometer in the pan, being careful not to let it touch the bottom or sides, and let the syrup boil without stirring .

~ While the syrup is happily bubbling away, prepare the Baking Soda.  Measure out your flavoring.  (We're making Orange flavored Pop Rocks.)

~  Remove from heat when it gets to about 305°F. By now, there is almost no water left in the syrup.  Let the syrup cool to about 275°F and add your flavoring, Baking Soda, and food coloring. Stir quickly and make sure it's as mixed in as you can get it.  If you add it  as soon as you take it off the heat, most of the flavor will just cook off.  
~ Pour out onto your cookie sheet. It can be any shape.  Try to get globs and dollops of the candy.  Once it's poured, sprinkle more Citric Acid on the top of the candy.

~ Allow to cool completely.

TIP:  Candy can be a fickle master.  It's best to not make candy on a rainy or humid day.  Cooking candy syrup to the desired temperature means achieving a certain ratio of sugar to moisture in the candy. On a humid day, once the candy has cooled to the point where it is no longer evaporating moisture into the air, it can actually start reabsorbing moisture from the air. This can make the resulting candy softer than it is supposed to be.  That’s why dry days are recommended for candy making, although the effects of humidity can be somewhat counterbalanced by cooking the candy to the upper end of the appropriate temperature stage. (i.e. hard-crack stage is 300°F-310°F)


Step 3: Anger Management

Picture of Anger Management

~ This is a good one for the kids to help out with!

~ Remove the cooled candy from the cookie sheet.  Break the sheet of candy into smaller pieces and place in plastic bag.  

~ Using your blunt instrument of choice, smash the candy into Pop Rock size pieces!  Be careful not to pulverize the candy.  You want tiny chunks, not powder. 

~Store in small plastic baggies, or airtight container. (Best to do this as soon as you're done smashing them.  Just like real Pop Rocks, they don't like humidity.)

Step 4: Let's Get Fizzy!

Picture of Let's Get Fizzy!

~ Enjoy your freshly made chunks of nostalgia!  Eat them straight, or use them as a topping on cupcakes or other confections.

~ A better name for these might be Fizzy Rocks.  The magic happens when the sugar dissolves, and the citric acid and baking soda mix.  That's what creates that fizzy sensation. They don't make that loud snapping sound, but they are quite pleasant! (Be warned: They are a little sour.  Citric Acid is the powder used to make Sour Patch Kids so sour.) We had a great time making them.  You can't make REAL Pop Rocks at home, you need a pressure cooker capable of injecting CO2 into molten candy at 600 psi.  (EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO GET WRONG.)  Go here to learn more about real Pop Rocks.  You can see the actual patent for the Pop Rock process! 

~ Mix things up a little bit too.  Try using different color/flavor combinations.  ( Orange flavored Blue Pop Rocks, Cinnamon flavored Green Pop Rocks, etc.)  Or go really crazy and leave out the food color and make a "Mystery Flavor"! 

~ The recipe is the same for lollipops and other hard candy.  Just leave out the baking soda mixture, and you've got lollies!  This is a great project to get the kids involved in, or to amaze your guests at your next party with your homemade chunks of awesome!



HeatherØ (author)2017-11-22

hi! Just a little fuzzy on how you keep the baking soda and citric acid from reacting before you put it in your mouth. When I put both in the molten candy mixture it bubbled up and then didn’t pop in my mouth (was just really sour!). Help!

marryannvaught (author)2016-08-27

what order do u put it in

ElizabethM57 (author)2015-10-09

That is A lot of ingredeints I think i'll stick to making rock cndy for my science project

drgecko (author)2015-07-14

Has anyone tried adding Miracle Berry to counter the sour flavor?

bergiemoore (author)2015-02-14

Citric acid is used in wine making, so any beer supply or wine making store will have it :) And in small quantities too, not that 1 pound bottle from Amazon.

return_error (author)2013-07-15

I like your cooking stick.

gdomantic (author)2013-01-17

first come pop-rocks, than comes meth! :DDD

indyjoe (author)2012-10-14

is the citric acid just for flavor?

chickflix (author)indyjoe2012-10-16

The citric acid mixes with the baking soda to make the fizz/pops.

jackjackboom (author)2012-10-11

my personal belief is that pop rocks can be considered an addictive drug. (This is based on personal experimentation)

jackjackboom (author)2012-10-11

i put my pop rocks onto sherbert ;)

mygibzone (author)2012-02-21

Pop rocks were always a childhood favorite. I'm excited to try this!

slaveboy2000 (author)2011-06-20

there a taste sensation .I made peppermint , maple and orange . peppermint is my favorite and it fizzed/popped the most .I like the recipe . :) =)

chickflix (author)slaveboy20002011-11-06

ooh, peppermint would be good. I'm glad they worked out for you! There are a lot of variables that can make this tricky to make. I'm gonna have to try the minty ones. :)

chickflix (author)2011-11-06

thanks everyone!

Woodstock Candy Lady (author)2011-11-06

I love this recipe for Pop Rocks!

SD456 (author)2011-09-18

Thank you very much for this instructable! I was looking for these for ages :)

bakesalot (author)2011-09-15

that is so cool! glad I found this (:

zilcho (author)2011-07-08

It wouldn't be too hard to make a device capable of holding a lot of pressure to put the molten candy in. Then just add a lot of dry ice and seal it off.

Langarulz (author)2011-06-18

its hardly ever not dry in AZ

duckythescientist (author)2011-03-21

The fizzing here is the same process as the fizzy Skittles. I hate those Skittles; they taste salty. This reaction will also make sodium citrate, so I am worried that if I make these, I will equally dislike them. Have you or other people found these to be salty?

Also as a caution, speaking chemically, these will be salty. However, I can't speak from trying this recipe specifically.

You probably won't like them, then. They aren't exactly salty, but they are sour. I didn't get a salty taste, but I like salty and sweet together(ie. Chocolate covered pretzels).

Feel free to change the recipe if you want. Out of all the experiments we tried with them, this version came out the best. You can try adding the 1/4 citric acid when you add the baking soda. That will start the reaction early though, leaving them less fizzy. Try it out. We liked these the best, but try them another way if you want. That's what makes cooking fun! Experiment a little!

I'll probably just wait until someone figures out a way to (safely, at home) use nitrogen instead of an acid base reaction.

Thanks for the response though!

jenjenbug (author)2011-03-17

Best phrase of the day, E.V.E.R.

"homemade chunks of awesome"

Thanks for the chuckle!

MaXoR (author)jenjenbug2011-03-18

How about "I feel better than a tub full of good things" - Freakazoid

jenjenbug (author)MaXoR2011-03-19

Not bad!

chickflix (author)jenjenbug2011-03-17

Lol, thanks! Glad to be of comical assistance! ;)

eyewalk (author)2011-03-17

Any recipe with a hammer listed as essential equipment has got my vote!

MaXoR (author)eyewalk2011-03-18

Too true.... destruction is fun (Remembers back to the toys in sandbox days.... aww so much destruction)

MaXoR (author)2011-03-18

I like this idea, and although these will only fizzle, or froth in your mouth.... it's the safest solution for at home, well safest for those without welding experience, and a background in engineering.

If you can weld, and know how to understand stresses caused by pressure, and not a contact point, then you should have no problem creating the CO2 version.

Wouldn't it be nice to get the real deal? (Although unless you eat these things for supper, I doubt you'll ever eat enough to gain the savings needed over purchasing all the equipment.)

randofo (author)2011-03-08

For years I have been considering making them with all kinds of serious industrial equipment. It's not an easy feat heating something to 300 degrees and then pressuring it to 600 psi. This mildly frightens me to try.

I'm glad that you posted this so now that I don't have to build my suicide pop rock machine.

Very cool!

chickflix (author)randofo2011-03-08

Thanks! They were fun to make!

I've considered the possibility of building a pressure cooker, but i think I'd like to keep my limbs. Perhaps if you'd like to do a joint venture sometime... :) Anyway, these are a neat alternative.

Thanks again for your support!

MaXoR (author)chickflix2011-03-18

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MODIFY A PRESSURE COOKER, THEY ARE DESIGNED FOR UNDER 20PSI!!!! The metal walls alone will likely bulge already at 30, and might simply explode apart at 50-80.

You're going to be looking to use 1\8 - 1\4 inch carbon steel at least, so all of you figuring you're going to go make something out of a pressure cooker, you're setting yourself up for a whole mess of 3rd degree burns!

hlfwy.thr (author)2011-03-08

Cool! Didn't know you could make these at home. I'll have to try it out/.

MaXoR (author)hlfwy.thr2011-03-18

Keep in mind he said they were "LIKE" pop rocks, although these will only fizzle, or froth in your mouth. The same experience can be had with vinager and baking soda, since it's the same reaction your creating.

vanmankline (author)2011-03-17

Nice detailed instructable, however this is closer to a seafoam or sponge toffee. True Pop Rocks can not be made a home, although this is still a great candy.

It does use CO2 (from a chemical reaction) to make it light and airy, but Pop Rocks require CO2 to be injected at high pressures. It is the pressurized gas escaping that makes the pops.

MaXoR (author)vanmankline2011-03-18

I almost wonder if there isn't an IBLE here for that CO2 version to create REAL pop rocks. Sure 600 PSI is huge, but it's about what is available in a CO2 cartridge isn't it? So why couldn't you just heat up the sugars, then have a sealed system that allows a CO2 cartridge to be evacuated into the mixture?! Im also assuming that you simply have to cool the sugar after the CO2 has been added, although it must be cooled at 600 PSI until hard.

This doesn't sound impossible to me, and compared to other ibles, it now seem probable that someone will take this and make it real.

spark master (author)2011-03-17

for storage use a bottle with a vacuum seal and pump out the air. You can make your own resealable vacuum bottles and use a commercial vacuum pump or build a pump. If you use the reynolds system (I have one) they have various sized bags, so you could put P-R's in a few put them in the big bag (99% sealed, then close the big bag, cauum it press the smaller bags closed (inside the sealed evacuated big bag) and then pu them in a big jar which you vacuum as well. Cheap bags don't work well over time , but in a jar they will do fine allowing no degaidation as you open then close the big bottle to give treats to kiddies, ok adults too.

nice instructable

chickflix (author)spark master2011-03-17

Thanks for the input! I didn't even think of that. That'll give me an excuse to use the food saver next time. :)

spark master (author)chickflix2011-03-18

that toy cost so much , ya gotta use it once in a while!

I must clarify to all I just confused, you put a serving in a small sandwich bag, then close them 99% . Then you put them flat in a large vacuum bag (clear see through plastic seal that and evacuate the big bag, which evacuates the little ones (cheapo bags). Run a finger over the seals of the small bags so they are sealed up (inside the big bag under vacuum)then release the vacuum to the big bag. take all the little bags put in vacuum jar and evac that. (you can make a jar for a penny or less)

cheapo bags won't keep a vacuum long, but stored in a vacced jar they will keep very nice and allow you to remove them and take them on a trip to park etc and still keep good explosive sillyness for all to enjoy.

Remag1234 (author)2011-03-17

$15 from Amazon, that would buy a lot of pop rocks.

happysmurfday (author)2011-03-14

I'd really like to make some sizzling bacon pop rocks. I found this recipe for bacon extract:

Do you think this would work?

chickflix (author)happysmurfday2011-03-17

It would be neat to try! Just remember that they are kind of sour with the citric acid.

mikelike (author)2011-03-15

These look so good though I am pretty sure my teeth will disagree with me.:))

tvincent (author)2011-03-14

Most homebrew supply shops also carry citric acid, it gets used in home wine-making occasionally.

dwhole (author)tvincent2011-03-14

You can also find it as sour salt in most grocery stores - in the kosher section usually.

netlog111 (author)2011-03-13

Citric acid is also used in homebrewing, so you can find it where those supplies are sold.

thread_soul (author)2011-03-12

Awesome! I would never have imagined this was feasible to do at home. It's definitely going on the list of weekend projects.

A quick note about calibrating a candy thermometer for those who are not at sea-level: a good rule of thumb is the boiling point of water drops by about 1 degree F for every 500 feet in elevation gain. So, for someone in say, Denver (~5000ft), the boiling point is 202 F instead of 212.

JimKelleher (author)2011-03-09

My local supermarket stocks the citric acid crystals with the canning supplies. I use it to make an acid dip to pretreat apple slices before dehydrating them to keep them from turning brown.

chickflix (author)JimKelleher2011-03-09

Mine has zip. Lucky for me there's a Mennonite Country Store that has a whole wall of candy making supplies!

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