Candy Canes vs. Sugar

Which melts faster, candy canes or pure sugar?  To find out, place a candy cane and a lump of sugar on a foil-lined pan.  Then heat in the oven at 300 F for 5-10 minutes.  Which one melts first?

Table sugar melts at about 360 F.

11 Favorite Candy Experiments

Do you need a fun way for kids to celebrate Halloween and learn science? If so, try some of these candy science experiments to get your candy bubbling, spouting, sparking, sinking, and separating!

Here’s a list of eleven favorite candy experiments from all over the internet.

1. Sour Candy Bubble Test

Sour candy contains acid, which causes the sour taste. With the Acid Test candy experiment, You can test for the acid by dissolving the candy and adding baking soda to make a bubbling reaction.

You can do this with any type of candy, but it’s especially fun with Pixy Stix and Warheads!

2. Floating M&Ms

Need a Halloween magic trick? Drop some M&M’s in a glass of water and watch the letters. In a few minutes, the M’s will start floating!

3. Marshmallow Sink

Can you sink a marshmallow? Take the Marshmallow Challenge to find out!

A marshmallow contains tiny air bubbles, which puff it out to make it less dense than water. To make it sink, you must make the marshmallow denser than water by making it smaller. Smash the marshmallow to break the air bubbles, then roll it into a ball. If you make it small enough, it will sink.

4. Life Saver Lights

For this experiment, which the Exploratorium calls “Lighting In Your Mouth,” you need a dark room, a mirror, and a pack of wintergreen LifeSavers. Stand in front of the mirror and start chewing the LifeSavers. You will see sparks of light as the energy from the chewing motion rips electrons off of the sugar molecules, then recombines them to release flashes of light.

This also works with other wintergreen sugar candies, such as Altoids.

5. Candy Color Separation

Chromatography lets you separate candy colors so you can see what dyes have been mixed together.

To do chromatography, cut a strip of paper from a coffee filter. Wet a colored candy, such as a brown M&M, and dab a spot of color near the bottom of the paper. Stand up the paper up in glass with a half-inch of water, and watch as the colors rise up the paper.

6. Chocolate Bloom

When chocolate blooms, the cocoa butter begins to separate from the cocoa solids. Eventually the cocoa butter can form complex patterns of white crystals.

7. Dancing Gummy Frankenworms

For the Dancing Gummy Frankenworms experiment, you can make gummy worms dance by slicing them into strips, soaking them in baking soda water, then dropping them in vinegar. The bubbles will hold the pieces up so they dance!

8. Giant Gummies

Make your gummy worms grow to double their length with the Giant Gummies experiment. Just put them in water and wait for two days to see how big they get.

9. Bubbling Pop Rocks

To find the secret ingredient in Pop Rocks, put them in water and watch what happens. As the candy dissolves, it releases tiny trapped air bubbles that float to the surface.

10. Melting Races

If you really want to see what your candy is made of, cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, line up different types of candy, and heat in the oven at 300 degrees to see what happens. For instance, you’ll see oil spots form on Starbursts, candy bars melt away from their fillings, and taffy turn translucent as the air bubbles contained inside rise to the surface and disappear.

11. Mentos Coke Geyser

One of the internet’s favorite candy experiments, the Mentos Coke geyser lets you send coke spouting into the air. Try it with Diet Coke, and wear clothes that can get wet!

For more fun ideas on how to experiment with candy, check out the experiments page!

5 Best Candies for Halloween Candy Experiments

Are you buying candy for Halloween? Don’t forget to prepare for Halloween candy experiments! You can do dozens of different experiments if you buy just five types of candy.

Read on to learn the five best candies for candy experiments.

1. M&Ms

M&Ms make the perfect candy for color experiments. Try separating brown M&M dye into rainbows with with chromatography, or mix colors together to make new shades.

You can also use M&M’s to explore the mechanics of ocean currents, or graph data sets.

2. Skittles

Use Skittles for candy color experiments, and also for melting experiments. Float the S right off the candy with Floating Letters, which works for M&Ms, too. Try chromatography with purple Skittles. Explore density with the Skittles Density Rainbow,

You can also melt Skittles into clamshells or compare the difference in dissolving them with hot or cold water.

3. Warheads

Warheads make the best candy for the Sour Candy Acid Test experiment.You can also make awesome candy diving bottles, or Cartesian divers.

These experiments work with Toxic Waste candy, too.

4. Gummy Candy

You can grow monster gummies in water with the Incredible Growing Gummy Worm experiment. Just leave a gummy candy in water for two days, and watch it grow to twice its original length!

You can also use gummy worms to learn about osmosis by soaking them in salt water.

5. Taffy

Taffy has a secret ingredient--tiny air bubbles. You can learn more about these air bubbles by dissolving the taffy and watching the bubbles float to the surface, or by melting it to turn it transparent.

Taffy’s also great for making sticky candy creations--encourage your kids to mix up their discards and make sculptures and landscapes.

Prepare for Candy Science Experiments

When you’re buying your candy this year, don’t just think about what kids like to eat. Get the best candies for playing with color, density, stretching, and stickiness. You’ll be well-stocked to create your own candy experiments science lab! For more ideas on destroying candy for science, check out the Experiments page at!

Prepping for Halloween in Quarantine? Try These Halloween Activity Ideas to Keep Halloween Safe--and Fun!

“Is Halloween cancelled?”

That’s probably the question on every kid’s mind right now. It’s just not safe to run around the neighborhood grabbing treats out of shared bowls. So how can you show your kids a good time while keeping everybody safe?

Read on for some fun Halloween activities that will keep your kids excited about the season.

Join a Costume Parade

If your kids love dressing up, why not create or join a costume parade? All the kids can dress up and march (socially distanced) down the street, through a park, or around a parking lot to display costumes. It’ll give kids a way to show off, and also get out of the house!

Halloween Zoom Party

Even if you’re not meeting in person, hop online to show off everybody’s costumes! Friends, coworkers, or grandparents will enjoy seeing your family’s fabulous outfits.

Neighborhood Pumpkin Carving Contest

Invite everyone in the neighborhood to decorate and set out pumpkins for a jack-o-lantern contest. Participants can vote for winners online, or just walk up and down the street to admire everybody’s work.

Decorate Masks

Since the face mask is this year’s new fashion statement, why not make it part of the costume? Try creating a mask that matches your outfit, or decorate a fun Halloween mask to wear on its own.

If you don’t sew, don’t worry. The CDC has instructions for making a quick and easy mask with a piece of cloth and two rubber bands. Let the kids choose fabric and decorate it with fabric pens to make their own Halloween statements.

(Note: A costume mask won’t protect kids from germs, so the CDC recommends making a cloth mask a part of your costume. Don’t let kids wear a costume mask and a fabric mask at the same time, as it can make it hard to breathe.)

Make Creative Costumes From Household Items

Since your kids don’t have to impress anybody, make this the year to get creative. What do you have lying around the house that someone can turn into a really fabulous costume? Scarves, hats, old coats, letter jackets, cast-off skirts, oversized shirts, and bath-towel capes can turn your kid into a superhero, a movie actor, a monster, or something you’ve never imagined.

Mad Scientist Candy Lab

Create a laboratory for destroying candy and learning science lessons. Try candy experiments like throwing Warheads into baking soda water to make it bubble, stretching out taffy like ectoplasm, or creating slime by microwaving gummy worms and letting them cool. You can melt, sink, crush, break, soak, and stir--who knows what the kids will discover!

Choose Your Favorite Treats

If you’re not buying 10-pound bags of candy and handing out pieces to every kid in town, why not let your kids choose this year’s treats? This is the year for gourmet chocolate, sour bombs, exotic fruits, or whatever your family really wants. Buying the candy yourself instead of sending kids around the neighborhood also helps you limit the amount of sugar your kids get for Halloween.

Trick-or-Treat Candy Hunt

If you don’t go out trick-or-treating, make the hunt happen at home instead. Hide candy or prizes in Easter eggs, and add glow sticks to make them glow in the dark!

You can also create a scavenger hunt or a treasure map to get kids searching all around the house.

Old-Fashioned Halloween Treats

Try celebrating Halloween the way your great-grandparents did by making the treats yourselves. Kids can mix and shape Jell-O popcorn balls without having to boil sugar, and pulling taffy will get kids involved and teach them about candy chemistry at the same time.

Keep Halloween Fun

Don’t let the current craziness keep you from enjoying Halloween. If you get creative and plan out some new Halloween activities, you can celebrate Halloween 2020-style and keep the day fun for everyone.

Where's the Butter in This Tricky Popcorn Label?

One of my favorite "candy experiments" is reading labels to Find Hidden Candy and other labeling tricks like this. This Healthy Pop popcorn calls its flavor "Butter & Sea Salt," with no artificial ingredients.

But where's the butter?

Because the second ingredient listed in the nutrition label is actually palm oil.

Apparently it's one of the "natural flavors" allowed under the FDA guidelines. There's so little of it, they don't even list it as an ingredient!
And palm oil, though not listed on the front, isn't an artificial preservative, flavor, color, or dye. So this tricky label isn't lying--it's just not telling the truth.

If you want to see some more misleading labels, check out these examples:

Incredible Growing Gummies!

Gelatin contains long protein molecules that tangle together to trap water molecules. Because gelatin absorbs so much water, candy containing gelatin acts like a sponge. That’s what makes “The Incredible Growing Gummy Worm” one of our favorite candy experiments.

Soaking gummy candy for two days can make it grow twice as long. As the gelatin molecules form bonds, cross-linking like a jungle gym, they trap water molecules between them.

To turn a gummy worm into a “gummy snake,” fill a flat dish with water and drop in a gummy worm (or several). Set aside a dry gummy worm for later comparison. Check back every few hours to see your gummy worm growing, since it can continue to absorb water for up to two days.

Once your gummy worm has grown to its full length, you can perform tests to see how much it grew.
  • Use a ruler to measure the length of the giant gummy worm, then measure the dry gummy worm and compare.
  • Weigh it and compare its weight with a dry gummy worm. Be gentle, because a water-engorged gummy worm becomes fragile and splits easily, like Jell-O. Try moving it by tipping most of the water out of the dish, laying down some plastic wrap, and sliding the gummy worm onto the plastic to weigh it. Then weigh a dry gummy worm and subtract it from the weight of the giant gummy worm. The remainder is the weight of all the water that was absorbed.

You can also try this activity with other gummy candies, like gummy bears, fruit snacks, or Life Savers Gummies. Check the ingredient labels to make sure that your experimental gummies do contain gelatin. Gummy candies without gelatin, like Swedish Fish, don’t absorb extra water.

Smart Start cereal versus Froot Loops

What kind of a Smart Start is Kellogg's Smart Start cereal? One with more sugar than Kellogg's Froot Loops!

Froot Loops cereal has "only" 24% sugar, while Smart Start cereal contains a whopping 36%.

Here are the full labels:

Smashing Peeps Candy Experiment

Put candy in a cooler with dry ice, then smash it to smithereens!

When you freeze a marshmallow, the molecules get locked in place and the marshamallow becomes a brittle solid. Smash it, and it breaks into fragments, just like any other piece of ice.

From Candy Experiments 2

Cheating "Cheesy" Cheetos (from PureFoodKids)

Cheetos aren't supposed to be health food. They're just crunchy fun.

But they're made with real cheese--that sounds healthy, right?

Actually, there's more salt than cheese. More citric acid than cheese. There's even more yeast extract than cheese.

There's also more sugar than cheese...what? But the label listed 0 grams of sugar!

In fact, FDA rules state that any ingredient weights be rounded to the nearest whole number. So if a product contains less that 0.5 grams of something, it can be rounded down to 0. Once serving of Cheetos might contain 0.49 grams of sugar--nearly 1/8 of a teaspoon. That's the same as eating a whole Tic Tac. (which also has a tricky ingredient label listing 0 grams of sugar per piece!)

So one serving of Cheetos might have as much sugar as a Tic Tac!

These labels provided by Pure Food Kids. Visit to learn more