Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Gum and Chocolate Experiment

We've all chewed gum.  We've all probably had our kids get chewing gum in their hair, clothes, bed, or the backseat of the car.  In fact, my kids are currently banned from chewing gum in the car due to a recent gum 'accident' that left gum all over the backseat of the car!!!  Swallowing gum is not harmful to you.  This is something I debunked close to 2 years ago.  There is a way, however, to make gum dissolve in your mouth!

There are several ingredients that go into gum, but at a basic level gum is made up of polymers.  A polymer is made up of several molecules strung together in long chains.  Polymers can either be natural or man-made.  Common polymers include wool, silk, DNA, teflon, nylon, polyester, and gum.  Chewing gum loses its flavor relatively quickly, but it doesn't dissolve in your mouth.  It eventually gets harder and harder to chew, but doesn't disappear unless you swallow it or remove it from your mouth.  There is, however, a relatively simple way to dissolve gum in your mouth.  Chocolate!

To test this out we grabbed a few gumballs from my daughters' gumball machine.  We chewed for a couple of minutes and then put a small piece of a chocolate bar in our mouths and chewed it with the gum.  At first it seems that nothing is happening and then suddenly it's hard to differentiate the gum and chocolate in your mouth.  You may have to chew a couple of chocolate pieces with the gum, but the gum does indeed dissolve until there's nothing left!  It's a weird experience that goes against one's common experience of chewing gum.  

So what's happening?  The cocoa butter in the chocolate softens the gum and breaks apart the polymers, causing the gum to dissolve.  Super cool!  This is a quick science experiment to try at home that only requires gum and chocolate.

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