This link shows that a gummy bear explodes when in contact with heated potassium chlorate, $\ce{KClO3}$. But what in a gummy bear creates this reaction?

Also, do other foods (fruit, icing sugar...) react as violently with potassium chlorate?

Gif of gummy bear explosion

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Never, never, never repeat this experiment on your own. Potassium chlorate is known to form mixture with violent and sensitive behavior with almost everything combustible and many incombustible things. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 15:01
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Also, be prepared to throw away the test tube afterwards. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 0:55

1 Answer 1


Potassium chlorate is a source of oxygen. After heating, it decomposes to $\ce{O2}$ and $\ce{KCl}$: $$\ce{4 KClO3 → KCl + 3 KClO4}$$ $$\ce{KClO4 → KCl + 2O2}$$

The gummy bear is mainly composed of sugar and other carbohydrates. Those carbohydrates will react with oxygen, combustion occurs. For example, glucose will react in this manner: $$\ce{6O2 + C6H12O6 -> 6CO2 + 6H2O}$$

If there is any material present which does not burn, such as $\ce{H2O}$, the temperature will not rise as high. For gummy bears the reaction works spectacularly because they are mainly carbohydrates (>70%).

An apple, for example, has only ~13% carbohydrates – unless you dry it, of course. On the other hand, this video on YouTube is an example of how sugar itself reacts violently with potassium chlorate.


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