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February 26, 2013 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Cockeyed.com's Rob Cockerham answers the question: Can you create time bomb soft drinks by freezing Mentos in ice cubes?
posted by Chrysostom (53 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
The most impressive part to me is that the guy actually managed to make the Slushy Magic thing work.
posted by jbickers at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2013


Re: Slushy Magic
(Warning: only search though those "Does it Work" archives if you want to lose like 2 hours of your life.)
posted by phunniemee at 11:37 AM on February 26, 2013


If it sugar in the mentos dissolving and lowering the freezing point was really the reason the water took too long to freeze you could chill a water sugar solution.
posted by jrsnr at 11:41 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Loved this -- but I'm going to be a sucker for any post that includes phrases like "The latest Mentos research indicates..." and "Once you find yourself threading Mentos in the kitchen..." and doesn't end with "I've wasted my life."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:43 AM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm glad that someone is doing this important work.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:46 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


He is one of us. It's been a while since I've kept up with Cockeyed.com. Good beard.
posted by phunniemee at 11:47 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife and I sent that kid a baby present when he was born. Or maybe it was the sister. Ah, the old cool days of the internet.
posted by DU at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2013


Looks like he has no activity on Metafilter for a few years, unfortunately.

Cockeyed's gotten a little quieter since he married and had two kids, but there's still some new content now and then. The Halloween costumes are always a highlight.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2013


I like Cockerham. He applies craftsmanship to the absurd.
posted by echo target at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't understand how that man is not wearing a hoodie in every picture and video. Also, after a quick perusal of the archives, it appears that he goes through a lot of canned beverages.
posted by slogger at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2013


I like that Rob has been around the web for a very long time and that he as pretty much the same amount of gray in his beard as I do. I know. It's a little thing, but it's on top of the countless amount of time I've spent looking at his site.
posted by plinth at 12:07 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what happens to the suspended-in-the-cap mentos bottle if you happen to turn it upside down or hold it horizontally, so that the Mentos is submerged in Coke? Will it explode?

Clearly more research is required...
posted by sour cream at 12:09 PM on February 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The Mentos shielded by Gummi bears failed similarly."
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:10 PM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fun to read and to let the anticipation build until he figures out how to succeed - only to find he realized someone else had already figured it out.

+10 for fostering in your kid some engineering, experimentation, and ingenuity skills
-1 for not just telling me up front that somebody else figured it out ('cause I was rooting for him to figure it out...)
posted by matty at 12:11 PM on February 26, 2013


Hi! Thanks for the nice comments and visitors!
My schemes for getting the ice-cube thing to work were getting more and more convoluted, and by the end it was simply time to admit that "suspended in bottleneck" solution was easier and more elegant than using ice.
posted by cockeyed at 12:20 PM on February 26, 2013 [34 favorites]


Everybody is pissing and moaning and worried about 3D printing of guns, but no one says negative word one about weaponization science like this in the home?

Really?

REALLY, PEOPLE?
posted by Samizdata at 12:22 PM on February 26, 2013


People talk about losing hours exploring tvtropes, but cockeyed.com gets me every time.
posted by exogenous at 12:30 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mr. Cockerham and Adam Savage are two of my inspirations; it's nice that they're both at least part time Mefites. Just about everything Cockerham has ever done has made me wish I'd thought of it first.
posted by bondcliff at 12:31 PM on February 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Of course, this prank works great until somebody at the party notices you're giving people ice cubes that have pills hidden in them and leaps instantly to the conclusion that you are slipping roofies into your guests' drinks.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:48 PM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's awesome to see Rob is still doing his important research!
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the suspended Mentos question, I think if you tip the bottle, you will get the Mentos wet, but it won't explode. Under high-pressure, the gas can't come out of the liquid. If the candy is just splashed, it would probably dry out and still explode once the bottle was opened, but if it was submerged for a few minutes, it would probably dissolve enough for the joke to be ruined.
posted by cockeyed at 12:52 PM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every now and then I get the idea to revisit cockeyed.com and every time I am so pleased that updates are still happening. Rob Cockerham is one of the most inquisitive people I've ever had the chance to live vicariously through on the Internet, and it's wonderful.
posted by Spatch at 12:53 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that Rob Cockerham has not yet won one is proof that the MacArthur genius grants are bullshit.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:54 PM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The fact that Rob Cockerham has not yet won one is proof that the MacArthur genius grants are bullshit.

Half a million dollars worth of PVC pipe later...
posted by phunniemee at 12:58 PM on February 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Ok guys, stop it, I'm starting to blush.
posted by cockeyed at 12:59 PM on February 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ok guys, stop it, I'm starting to blush.

So how many complimentary comments does it take to trigger that blush?
posted by straight at 1:01 PM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


In case you're friends with that guy from Psych, fishing line is a viable alternative to thread.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:06 PM on February 26, 2013


I think that if you tip the suspended mentos bottle you will probably blow the cap off at a fairly high velocity. I suggest doing the test outdoors and wearing safety glasses.
posted by localroger at 1:16 PM on February 26, 2013


I seem to recall that it's not the sugar per-se that causes diet coke to explode when combined with mentos, but that it is the surface of the candy which promotes the formation of bubbles.

Fill the ice cubes trays a third of the way with ice, add mento, then pour water over them and flash freeze with liquid nitrogen? ;) Probably still won't work :)
posted by so_ at 1:30 PM on February 26, 2013


I don't know how fast the CO2 in suspension leaves an open glass of soda, but it probably doesn't help that by the time the ice melts, no matter the delivery mechanism, the amount of dissolved CO2 is probably a fraction of what it was, especially with the dilution from the ice.
posted by maxwelton at 1:52 PM on February 26, 2013


Freeze the Mentos in liquid nitrogen. Drop in dish of cold water. Quickly retrieve with tweezers and repeat until the ice shell is desired thickness. Store in normal freezer.
posted by localroger at 1:55 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which is to say what is really needed is a clear solid which looks like ice but is really just nucleation central. Unfortunately, that would lose the whole idea of someone just enjoying a drink and having it explode with no one nearby. Or a special drinking vessel with a compartment shielded by a fast-dissolving gelatin film at the bottom.

But kudos on the experiment(s)!
posted by maxwelton at 1:57 PM on February 26, 2013


I'd like to better understand two factors:
1. How long does it take for water to corrupt the vital surface of the Mentos?
2. How long does it take for the carbonation to be reduced to a point where the Mentos contact doesn't make the cup overflow with bubbles?
posted by cockeyed at 1:57 PM on February 26, 2013


localroger, I think the other issue discovered is that you have to pretty much expose the entire mentos candy early in the freshly opened drink's life to the actual liquid, you can't have a corner emerge from the encasing ice and get the explosion. (And the "ice" will look like a mentos, so you might as well drop one of those in.)
posted by maxwelton at 2:00 PM on February 26, 2013


While you're at cockeyed.com, check out the height/weight chart, one of the most brilliant uses of the internet ever. See? You actually look just fine.
posted by Killick at 2:05 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks people. I'm supposed to be writing a paper but instead I'm making up for several years worth of neglected cockeyed.com.

HOW MANY PAGES OF COCKEYED.COM EXPERIMENTS EQUALS ONE PAGE OF A PAPER ON THE COMPLEXITIES OF COUNSELING A CHILD WHO HAS BEEN ABANDONED BY ONE OR MORE OF THEIR PARENTS?
posted by item at 2:19 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I've figured out how to do this. The thing is that the mentos has to be dry and has to be rapidly and completely exposed to the coke--right? So: take an ice cube tray. Half fill one of the sections and suspend something rounded into the water bigger than a half mentos. Repeat. Now you have two half-ice-cubes which, when joined together, form a secret mentos compartment on their interior. Then, place the dry mentos between two small sheets of saran wrap: one sheet just smaller than the surface of the ice cube, the other just large enough to protect the mentos itself from contact with the ice--but no larger. Press the half ice cubes together with the mentos in the resulting void. If necessary, paint a little water around the seam and refreeze. Now, when the cube is dropped into a coke, it should stay whole until enough of the cube melts away to reveal the entire edge of the larger of the two pieces of saran wrap. At that point the two halves should fall away, exposing the mentos. If the smaller piece of saran wrap is only just large enough to have protected the mentos from the ice, it should drift away easily as the coke floods in, exposing the dry mentos rapidly to the coke.

The saran wrap seems like the potential weak spot in this plan (if it clung to the mentos regardless it would kill the effect). But I imagine that other materials could be used that are both waterproof and non-clingy.
posted by yoink at 2:31 PM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Go big or go home; dust your Mentos with a light coating of elemental sodium before securing them in ice.
posted by mikurski at 2:45 PM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


> Hi! Thanks for the nice comments and visitors!

Oh, Rob. Why must you use your powers for evil?
posted by loquacious at 3:12 PM on February 26, 2013


Dry ice would have been interesting to try. A few months ago someone was stealing diet cokes out of the fridge in the break room at work. I wish I had seen the threaded Mentos trick back then; the thief would have revealed themselves in no time. Instead the victims had to resort to leaving nasty notes on the fridge that shamed the perp into ending his crime spree. (Speaking of Spree, I wonder if the original, non chewy, version would react the same as Mentos with various colas?)
posted by TedW at 3:16 PM on February 26, 2013


Wait, I think we need to back up here and answer a more fundamental question: What is the singular of Mentos?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:23 PM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


God I love Cockeyed.com. I think I was first introduced to it via the Herbalife investigation, posted by mathowie here on the blue many moons ago. After reading that, I knew Rob was a force to be reckoned with, whether he was doing investigative journalism or helpful science experiments.

Phunniemee, you were not kidding about the "Does it Work?" archive rabbit hole. I've never seen these before, but Leslie Gaydos comes across as very personable and they're quite fun. Be sure to watch the Chip Maker one. It gets kind of weird right in the middle.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:32 PM on February 26, 2013


Wait, I think we need to back up here and answer a more fundamental question: What is the singular of Mentos

One mentos.
Two mentoi.
posted by yoink at 3:55 PM on February 26, 2013


I had a good time at his How Much is Inside A Keg party.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:00 PM on February 26, 2013


The entirety of Cockeyed.com is blocked by my employer's firewall as "questionable". Good work, Rob, good work.
posted by nathan_teske at 5:19 PM on February 26, 2013


I think he was on the right track with the hollow ice cube. But that will melt on the inside, wetting the Mentos, before the wall breaks and lets the Coke in.

The fix: put the Mentos in a large gelatin capsule.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:06 PM on February 26, 2013


Tiny explosive bolts. For quick release.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:36 PM on February 26, 2013


Tiny explosive bolts

And explosions for these are powered by tiny mentos in tiny bottles of diet coke
posted by aubilenon at 1:06 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, I think we need to back up here and answer a more fundamental question: What is the singular of Mentos?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:23 AM on 2/27
[1 favorite +] [!]

I literally called them up on the phone one day years ago with this very question. They called me back to say: "it's 'one Mentos,' too."
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:53 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay.. I gave this some thought and I believe I have the ultimate solution.

First we need a thin glass capsule, like an ampoule. The glass must be thin so it can be easily crushed. It should contain a good amount of air in addition to the Mentos.

Then we need a pipe. Attach a pipe cap to one end, with a pulley inside. Put a string through the pulley, it must run the complete length of the pipe. We are at the open end of the pipe. Tie one end of the string to the glass ampoule. Now invert the pipe and fill it with Coke. Use the string to pull the buoyant ampoule down the pipe until it reaches the crush depth. It will burst and the Mentos Effect will occur.

I am not sure how long the pipe must be, but it must be long enough that there will be considerable atmospheric pressure deep in the pipe, at crush depth. The exact amount depends on the strength of the glass walls of the ampoule. I figure about 20 Atmospheres should do it, so we need a pipe about 650 feet long, filled with Coke, and about 1300 feet of string.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:44 PM on February 27, 2013


Hate to pop your CO2 bubble, charlie, but at that pressure the CO2 will compress into liquid and not explode.
posted by localroger at 8:07 PM on February 27, 2013


Ah, there surely was a flaw in the scheme somehow. Perhaps we could make a thinner ampoule that would have a shallow crush depth. Or perhaps it could be shattered mechanically even in a shallow glass. Oh well.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:24 AM on February 28, 2013


re: his final solution of a mentos suspended from a thread: it would be even better if you (A) used fresh screw caps so that the part that tears away when the bottle is first opened is not yet torn away; and (B) cut the thread before fully tightening the cap, so that all of the thread is hidden under the cap.
posted by jepler at 9:54 AM on February 28, 2013


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