The Power of Chewing

candy experiments: lifesaver smallYou chew food every day, but did you know that chewing can break food down on a molecular level? You probably learned in science class that molecules are very small particles that make up all living and nonliving things.

When you chew, you can crush foods — such as Lifesavers — so that the chemical bonds between its molecules are broken. Breaking those bonds produces energy and sometimes — with certain substances — light energy. It's the wintergreen oil used in wintergreen Lifesavers that's responsible for this unusual light show!

What you need:

  • A dark room with a mirror (a bathroom without windows works well)
  • Wintergreen Lifesavers

What to do:

  1. Stand in the dark room facing the mirror.
  2. Chew a wintergreen Lifesaver with your mouth open.
  3. Look for blue flashes of light.

© Loralee Leavitt. Used with permission.
[Please note: By clicking on this link, you will be leaving this site.]

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2011

Related Resources

  • Eureka! Science
    This site has animated explanations of how DNA works and science experiments you can try.
  • BrainPop
    This is a great site for kids with informational movies about science, anatomy, weather, and more.