We recently did the Skittles rainbow experiment and my kids loved it. We don’t have candy in the house usually so any candy experiment is super exciting since they do get to taste a couple – in the name of science, of course.
One thing that we noticed when the colors melted away is that the “S” from the Skittles floated to the top. However, the kids got excited and stirred up the colored water and broke up the floating letters before I could point them out.
So today, we are repeating the Skittles experiment with M&Ms, except we are separating the colors into different containers to test which M&M color dissolves the faster and slowest.
Yes, I did mean to arrange the glass bowls into the Olympic rings. The orange replaced the black ring since there are no black M&Ms in the bag.
How to Get the “m” off an M&M Candy
- M&Ms in different colors
- Small containers (I used glass bowls)
- Place one M&M of each color in individual containers.
- Slowly pour enough water in each container to cover the M&Ms.
- Watch the colors dissolve off the M&Ms. Ask your child which color dissolves the fastest and slowest.
- After the M&Ms sit in water for a bit, you’ll see the translucent shell and the letter “m” flat to the surface of the water.
- Use your finger or eating utensils (I used a chopstick) to carefully lift up the “m.”
Isn’t it cool how you can separate the “m” from the chocolate? My kids really wanted to taste the “m” so I gave them each one. They said it didn’t taste like anything.
Did you notice that different colors dissolved at different rates?
The red M&M dissolved the fastest and the blue M&M dissolved the slowest. Even though all the colors dissolved off the red M&M, it took a few minutes more before the “m” separated from the chocolate and floated to the top.
The green and orange M&Ms were a close second, but the “m” came off the orange one first. The color came off the yellow one slowly, but it took a long time before the “m” floated to the surface.
The blue one took about 30 minutes before the “m” came off. You can see that the shells of red, green, and orange M&Ms had all dissolved and the blue dye was still on the candy.
The Science Behind the Floating “m” of the M&M Experiment
The colored dyes on the shell of the M&Ms are water-soluble. Meaning, they are able to dissolve in water. The hard shell and the edible paper “m,” however, are not water-soluble.
As a result, after the colored dyes have dissolved, the hard shell and the “m” separated from the chocolate and floated in the water.
To test his understanding, you can ask your child what else is not water-soluble. The chocolate itself! You can see that after all the water-soluble dyes dissolved and the hardshell and the “m” floated away, you are left with the chocolate.
Your child can try the following extensions:
- Try submerging the M&Ms in different liquids, like vinegar or milk. Which one dissolves the colored dye the fastest?
- Try using warm or hot water. Does the temperature of the water speed up the process of the “m” floating to the surface?
- Try putting all the M&Ms in one container. Do the colors mix together?
- Try pouring more water in the containers. Does the amount of water matter?
Final Thoughts on the Floating M M&M Experiment
My son’s mind was blown when I told him that the Avengers picture on his birthday cake was also made out of edible paper, just like the letter “m.” He exclaimed, “how could paper taste so good!”
I love moments when you do a science experiment and the result completely blows your child away.
What other candies should we play with next?
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