Sample Lab Report: The Soda Geyser Experiment

Lab ReportChemistry
Mar 21, 2022

Observing Carbon Dioxide Behavior via the Soda Geyser Experiment

Abstract

Understanding carbon dioxide behavior can be integral in highlighting issues like climate change and global warming . This particular greenhouse gas is abundant on the Earth’s surface and in human-made products. In this laboratory experiment, the proponents aimed to observe carbon dioxide behavior when it interacts with Mentos candies inside a Coke bottle. The proponents used a 2-liter Coke bottle and six Mentos candies to perform the experiment. The results showed that the interaction between the materials creates the soda geyser reaction as the carbon inside the Coke bottle interacts with the rough surface of the Mentos candies. The experiment illustrated the behavior of carbon dioxide exclusive to a regular Coke bottle and Mentos candies, therefore future research can utilize other materials to acquire different results.

Introduction

Carbon dioxide is an abundant greenhouse gas that plays a significant role in natural processes. It helps in maintaining the warm temperature of the Earth, allows plants to perform photosynthesis, aids in respiration, and provides fuel for combustion processes. Without this substance, most of these processes will fail and led to catastrophic events. Lack of carbon dioxide can result in a significant decrease in the Earth’s temperature which will be unlivable for most living things; plants will lose their source of energy and cannot convert carbon dioxide into oxygen; living things that rely on oxygen will lose the ability to breathe, and; combustion processes cannot create a reaction.  Furthermore, some human activities and innovations also rely on carbon dioxide making the substance an integral part of daily life.

While carbon dioxide is significant for living things and the Earth, an excessive amount of this greenhouse gas can have adverse effects . One of the most prominent effects of excessive carbon dioxide emission is climate change and global warming. Human activities, such as transportation, electricity use, and industrial processes have produced harmful  greenhouse effects  that led to the current environmental crisis. Since carbon dioxide warms up the Earth, the excessive production of the substance has led to an increase in temperature. This is due to carbon dioxide’s behavior of rising into the air and reaching the atmosphere.

Since excessive carbon dioxide emission has led to a global crisis, scientists and other experts have developed research and studies to alleviate the rising temperature and reduce carbon footprints. Some institutions have employed eco-friendly guidelines to ensure that they minimize their carbon dioxide emission while others attempt to create innovations that may help in solving the conflict. For students and young individuals, the best way to help is to gain a better comprehension of carbon dioxide. To better develop an understanding of carbon dioxide and its behavior, the proponents conducted the soda geyser experiment. Through this experiment, the proponents aimed to observe the behavior of trapped carbon dioxide in a soda bottle and its reaction to the Mentos candies’ rough surface.

Hypothesis

Since soda bottles have trapped carbon dioxide inside and within the liquid, dropping Mentos candies in the bottle after opening it will result in an eruption-like reaction. Based on research, carbon dioxide will try to escape from the bottle and rise into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Materials for the Experiment

The most significant materials for the soda geyser experiment are 2-liter carbonated soda products and Mentos candies. The proponents used a 2-liter Coke product and a roll of Mentos candies, containing six individual pieces. Aside from the main materials, the proponents prepared a toy nozzle, a metal bucket, a yarn string, goggles, lab coats, gloves, a garden hose, and a trash bag. The toy nozzle, metal bucket, and yarn string were materials that aided in performing the experiment; the lab coats and gloves were to protect the proponents from splashes, and; the garden hose and trash bag were cleaning materials. The proponents conducted the experiment at 10 am in a residential compound lot with minimal civilian traffic.

Methods and Procedure

Since the proponents conducted the experiment outside, they first assessed the external conditions. The experiment required sunny or cloudy weather to provide the proponents with clear visibility for observation. Rainy or snowy weather could have affected the result of the experiment. The external conditions assessment also involved securing the experiment zone for civilian traffic. Passersby could have accidentally entered the experiment zone and gotten the soda on their clothes and skin.

Once the proponents have assessed that external conditions are suitable for the experiment, they began to set up the materials. First, the proponents identified a flat surface where they can place the Coke bottle and metal bucket. Once they have secured the flat surface, they placed the Coke bottle inside the metal bucket. The metal bucket will act as a stabilizer for the Coke bottle. This is to avoid the Coke bottle from falling or launching in a random direction.

After this, the proponents prepared the roll of Mentos candies. They placed six individual Mentos candies inside the toy nozzle. The toy nozzle has a lid that traps the candies inside and opens when the user pulls a short cable. For the experiment, the proponents increased the length of the cable by attaching yarn to its end which allowed them to release the candies six feet away from the Coke bottle. This reduces the risk of errors as well as avoids unnecessary mess during the experiment.

The proponents then aligned the toy nozzle on top of the Coke bottle to quickly replace the bottle cap once they removed it. Quickly placing the toy nozzle lessens the carbon dioxide that will escape from the initial opening. Once the proponents removed the bottle cap, they placed the toy nozzle on top of the Coke bottle. The structure of the toy nozzle allowed it to stay on top of the Coke bottle without adhesive or any other support. The proponents then moved six feet away from the Coke bottle to prepare for the release of the candies.

Once the proponents were ready, they pulled the yarn that they attached to the toy nozzle. This opened the toy nozzle’s lid and dropped the six pieces of Mentos candies in the Coke bottle. Immediately after the release, the proponents observed the soda geyser reaction for a few seconds until it dissipated. During this time, the proponents avoid going near the Coke bottle to avoid the soda.

After the reaction dissipated, the proponents waited for a few more seconds in case there are other reactions. Once the proponents were sure that the reaction is finished, they proceeded to gather the materials and clean the experiment zone. They used a garden hose to clean the soda from the pavement and threw the Coke bottle into a trash bag. The proponents left the experiment zone and proceeded to write down their observations after cleaning up.

Results and Discussion

When the proponents released the Mentos candies from the toy nozzle and into the Coke bottle, the interaction between the two materials resulted in the soda geyser reaction. The soda geyser reaction lasted for five to seven minutes and reached a maximum height of around six to seven feet. Once the reaction dissipated, the remaining soda content of the Coke bottle was ¼ of its original amount. The proponents did not observe any changes in the soda’s temperature, smell, color, or other attributes.

The lack of change in temperature, smell, color, and other attributes indicates that the soda geyser reaction is not a chemical reaction but a physical one. The reaction is the result of the interaction between the Mentos candies’ surface and the carbon dioxide inside the Coke bottle. Under a microscope, the proponents can observe that the Mentos candies’ surface is rough despite its smooth visual appearance. This rough surface provides the carbon dioxide gasses within the liquid with more space to move (Coffey, 2008; American Chemical Society, 2020).  This along with the sinking motion of the candies hastens the breaking away of carbon dioxide gas from the liquid which results in the rapid rise of the gasses, forming the soda geyser reaction.

This particular behavior of carbon dioxide gas is also present when an individual opens a bottle of a carbonated beverage. The “fizz” sound that everyone hears during the bottle opening is carbon dioxide gasses escaping from the space above the liquid. Furthermore, since carbon dioxide is present inside carbonated drinks, some of the gasses dissolve into the liquid (American Chemical Society, 2020). These dissolved gasses inside the liquid are the carbon dioxide gas that the Mentos candies interact with during the experiment. This also explains the eruption-like reaction that occurs when an individual shakes a carbonated drink before opening it. The shaking motion allows carbon dioxide gas to escape through small bubbles resulting in a rapid reaction once they open the bottle.

Conclusion

The proponents aimed to observe the behavior of carbon dioxide within a Coke bottle when they expose it to the Mentos candies’ rough surface. The experiment revealed that the carbon dioxide gasses within the Coke bottle quickly break away from the liquid by escaping to the air bubbles present in the Mentos candies’ rough surface. As the Mentos candies sink to the bottom of the bottle, the carbon dioxide gasses can quickly escape which then creates the soda geyser reaction. This aligns with the proponents’ hypothesis, however, the results indicate that the reaction is due to the Mentos candies’ rough surface and not exclusive to the behavior of carbon dioxide attempting to reach the atmosphere.

Recommendations

Since the soda geyser experiment is a common activity for lower levels of education, future researchers should utilize different materials to provide comparative data with existing experiments. Researchers can find alternatives for regular Coke by using a Diet Coke or other carbonated drinks that contain ingredients not present in regular Coke. The difference in ingredients between the related products can provide an insight into the effects of other factors on the behavior of carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, since research states that the soda geyser reaction is due to the rough surface of the Mentos candies, researchers can replace the candies for other objects with rough surfaces. They can use materials like sand, a small cement rock, ceramic pieces, and other rough materials. Alternatively, researchers can use other textures and types of surfaces and compare the reaction with rough surfaces. This can help provide data that will allow students to better understand the reaction.

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Reference List

American Chemical Society. (2020). The Candy-Cola Soda Geyser Experiment, At Different Altitudes. ScienceDaily. Available at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200401111651.htm. Accessed March 21, 2022

Coffey, T. (2008). Diet Coke and Mentos: What is Really Behind This Physical Reaction?. American Journal of Physics. Available at http://link.aip.org/link/doi/10.1119/1.2888546?ver=pdfcov. Accessed March 21, 2022.

Epa.gov. (n.d.). Overview of Greenhouse Gases. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Available at https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases#:~:text=Carbon%20dioxide%20(CO2)%20is,gas%20emissions%20from%20human%20activities.. Accessed March 21, 2022.

Scied.ucar.edu. (n.d.). Carbon Dioxide. Center For Science Education. Available at https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/how-climate-works/carbon-dioxide. Accessed March 21, 2022.

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