Candy Chemistry – Skittles and M&M’s

As I mentioned in my last post, the superheroes received a ton of candy so we used them for experiments instead of ingesting all that extra sugar.  This is a quick and easy one to do anytime with just 2 ingredients!  Doesn’t get simpler than this!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • clear cups or clear glass bowls
  • water
  • Skittles candy
  • M&M’s

As usual, I asked my superheroes what they thought was going to happen when we added water to the candies.  We discussed the similarities and differences between the Skittles and the M&M’s before making our predictions.  Then they got to work! We added the  candies to the cups. Then added water.

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We watched the skittles which immediately began to change.

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We watched the M&M’s as well.  Its sugary coating began to dissolve as well, though not as quickly. The colors definitely started to bleed, although the Skittles coating dissolved much faster than the M&M’s (maybe there is a bit of truth to “melts in your mouth, not in your hands”?)

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What we found super cool was that the “S” and the “m” from the candies separated and floated to the top.  The “S” from the skittles (left picture) disappeared/dissolved very quickly and the “m” from the M&M’s (left picture) lasted much longer.  The superheroes and their friends tried to get them with their fingers but they were tricky.

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At the end, the coatings on both candies disappeared and only the chocolate was left from the M&M’s.  The Skittles completely dissolved leaving just the colored sugary water behind (below).

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We deduced that although the coatings on both candies were made of sugar, the coatings must have some differences in their ingredients to make them dissolve at different rates and in different patterns.  Plus, the Skittles dissolved completely whereas only the coating dissolved on the M&M’s.  Watching the “S” and “m” separate from the candies and float up was pretty cool too!

The Science behind the Activity:

Apparently the Skittles are made of all sugar which is why the entire candy dissolved so quickly and even the “S” on top dissolved fast so we really had to pay attention.  The “m” on the M&M’s are made of more than just sugar so the m’s hang around a bit longer and only the sugary coating dissolves, not the chocolate.  Although our chocolate eventually melted since it was close to 95 degrees that day.

Follow these links to see where I got the idea from and more details about the experiments:

Skittles Candy Science Experiment

Candy Science for Kids: M&M Experiment

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