For my science project, we expected Smarties candy to
dissolve more quickly in Sprite or vinegar, but it dissolved most
quickly in water. Can you tell me why?
Congratulations on discovering something about nature! Since
Smarties are mostly sugar, we can simplify the problem by just using sugar.
Is there a limit as to how much sugar can be dissolved in
water? Sprite already has some sugar, while vinegar does not.
So now you are at the point that most scientists often find
themselves: extending their study.
Try taking 200 ml of room temperature water, and see how much sugar
you can dissolve into it. Use a large enough container so that it can
handle the stirring and additional volume of the sugar. Add it about
a teaspoonful of sugar at a time,and stir. Add more sugar only after
the "current" teaspoonful dissolves. You need to be patient with
this, as it may take some time to do. Do the same with the
Sprite. Make sure the Sprite is at room temperature, and try
dissolving sugar into it, just as with the water. Then repeat with
the vinegar. While you are at it, try cooking oil, and maybe some
other liquid. Does the kind of liquid matter? This extended
experiment may help you understand the results of your original experiment.
Keep up the good work!
---Nathan A. Unterman
Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives
Update: June 2012