I opened a can of soda and spilled some generic artificial sweetener into the soda and it exploded. Why did this happen? I am not talking about mentos, I mean artificial sweeteners like Splenda.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How does the Mentos-Coke explosion work? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Apr 14 '17 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is applicable to your question also. $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Apr 14 '17 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ I would suggest tbat the added fine powder provided a lot of nucleation sites for the dissolved CO2 in the soda very quickly hence the foaming. $\endgroup$
    – Waylander
    Apr 14 '17 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think a more general question should be considered dulicate. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Sep 10 '18 at 21:22

Artificial sweetener powder causes nucleation of the carbonation in the soda/pop/soda-pop. The carbon dioxide concentration in the soda is higher than the equilibrium concentration for the partial pressure of $\ce{CO2}$ in the atmosphere thus over time the soda will off-gas $\ce{CO2}$ and if allowed to sit long enough will become "flat".

The off-gassing is spontaneous but not instantaneous, thus it is subject to kinetic rates. To form a bubble, enough $\ce{CO2}$ molecules need to coalesce at one time to form a large enough bubble to be stable and not redissolved in the soda (nucleating).

When a rough surface is introduced, the number of $\ce{CO2}$ molecules that must come together to form a stable bubble is far less that the pure drink, so the off-gassing occurs much faster causing the observed "explosion".

You can observe this when certain glasses (ussually beer glasses) etch a small ring in the glass, creating a rough surface and the formation of bubbles at the ring. you can also observe this if you put a larger rough object in the soda. This could be a rock, a piece of wood (like a tooth pick), or even a Mentos.

To solve this you might be able to dissolve it in a small amount of water first. This may not completely solve issue though, as most sweeteners use silicon oxide or titanium oxide powder to prevent clumping, neither of which are soluble and will still nucleate bubbles.


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