Nothing says holiday spirit like a candy experiment, right?
So, we were shopping for Halloween candy for our church’s trunk or treat. I was gravitating toward the chocolate, because…it’s chocolate. Meanwhile, the kids and their underdeveloped sense of taste migrated toward all things gummy, sour, and pure sugar.
I decided to compromise on a mixed bag of mini chocolate candy bars and their kind of candy. As I picked up the huge bag of basically sugar, I noticed a stack of small bags next to it full of little orange candy pumpkins. I remember these mellowcreme candies from my childhood. I didn’t like them then either. Of course, my kids grabbed them and just had to have them. I was about to say no, then I had an idea. “We’ll get them for science!”
When we got the pumpkin candies home, I had my son read the ingredients.
Sugar, Corn Syrup, Confectioner’s Glaze, Salt, Gelatin, Dextrose, Honey, Artificial Flavor, Sesame Oil, Yellow 6, Red 3, Yellow 5, Blue 1
Basically, lots of sugar, a little oil, and some food dye coated in confectioner’s glaze. We decided to see if all that sugar would dissolve in water and other liquids or if the confectioner’s glaze (a waxy resin) would protect it.
I let the kids choose what liquids to use in our candy pumpkin experiment. Based on some other dissolving experiments, my son chose water, vinegar, and soapy water (dish soap and water).
We dropped the pumpkin candies into the liquids at the same time and started observing. After about 10 minutes, we started to see some changes.
The pumpkin in the soapy water started to show signs of change first. The outside of the candy was no longer bright orange. It was getting a cloudy glaze of white over its surface. On the bottom of the glass, we could see some of the orange color of the pumpkin was starting to spread.
After 20 minutes, all 3 pumpkins were showing a white film over their surface and it was starting to separate from the pumpkin. We assumed this was the confectioners glaze that coated the candies.
We had to leave the house for a couple hours and came home to this. The candies were completely dissolved and the waxy coating was floating on top of the water glass and the vinegar glass.
The coating did not float on top of the soapy water glass. It was immersed in the solution near the bottom of the jar.
Our conclusion was that the sugars that made up the bulk of the pumpkin candies were water soluble and dissolved in the various water-based solutions, but the confectioner’s glaze that coated the candy was not and therefore, did not dissolve in water or vinegar.
The coating did not float in the soapy water glass. Could it be that the soap was starting to break down the confectioner’s glaze?