Having a Gas with Cola

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In this activity, learners measure the amount of carbon dioxide in a carbonated drink. Learners work in teams of at least two to extract, collect, and measure gas (volume) from a can or bottle of cola. Learners can also compare the volume of gas to the mass loss and determine the molarity of the CO2 in the cola.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Large ZiplocĀ® bag or other type of sealable bag (1 gallon size or larger)
  • Can or small plastic bottle of cola (355 to 1 liter) - room temperature to slightly warm
  • 1 one-liter Graduated cylinder (or cut open a 1 or 2 liter plastic bottle)
  • Large bowl or other catch basin
  • Nucleation source - Salt, Mentos, Lifesavers, Sugar or any other nucleation/catalyst for getting carbon dioxide out of solution


  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
      • Variables and Expressions
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
    • Number and Operations
      • Fractions
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Muller, Eric


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2006