I'm wondering if the chemicals involved in the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction would be at all poisonous. If at all, do you know of another similar oscillating reaction that could safely be ingested?

[Edit] Seriously, I was wondering if it would be possible to invent a candy that changes flavors in waves. I know Turing came up with a mathematical demonstration of the possibility of this sort of reaction long before its discovery which makes me think that others exist.

Here is the apparent chemical reaction:

$$\ce{3CH2(CO2H)2 + 4BrO3- -> 4Br- + 9CO2 + 6H2O}$$

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    $\begingroup$ An oscillating reaction would be a terrible way to make a flavour changing candy and exceedingly complicated. You can't easily control the environment and the environment of the reaction matters to the speed of the cycles. Why not just make a candy with different layers with different flavours: solubility will do the job of changing flavours. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Jun 10, 2016 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


Well, to directly answer your question I think the fastest way to find out is to check the individual MSDS of each component. What you'll probably find is that it's a bad idea to eat these specific chemicals.

But perhaps more importantly, your real question is less about the safety of eating those specific components but the possibility of providing a solution/mixture that will oscillate between flavors. Now in purely theoretical terms (because I know of no system that can safely be ingested), I think it's possible. You would be looking out for a system that:

  1. Starts with non-toxic compounds.
  2. Has non-toxic intermediates.
  3. At least three distinct steps that are all forward reactions where it goes $\ce{A->B->C->A}$ (you don't want equilibrium reactions because these tend to find a middle ground much faster)

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