The choice candy for the holiday season makes for an awesome science experiment! Our dissolving candy cane experiments are an easy and frugal Christmas science experiment and a great chemistry experiment for young kids.   All you need are some Christmas candy cane, and a few other household ingredients.  You won’t want to miss out on this fun kids’ science experiment!

Explore Solubility Science This Festive Season

We have done a few science experiments now with dissolving candy.  Some of our favorites are Skittles, m&m’s, and candy corn. They are all pretty cool and produce unique results!

There are two ways to go about this dissolving candy cane experiment. You can choose water for dissolving them or an array of liquids from the kitchen like oil, vinegar, club soda, milk, juice, you name it!!

We have set up this experiment for you both ways. In the first one, we stuck with different temperatures of water to keep it completely frugal and super easy.

In the second candy cane experiment, we compared two different liquids.  Have a go at both experiments, or try one, your choice!

Dissolving candy canes makes a great STEM activity for kids. We weighed our candy canes, we used liquids of varying temperatures to test our ideas, and we timed our dissolving candy canes to confirm our theories. Holiday STEM challenges are pretty cool!

Make sure to check out all our Christmas STEM activities!

What is the scientific method for kids?

The scientific method is a process or method of research. A problem is identified, information about the problem is gathered, a hypothesis or question is formulated from the information, and the hypothesis is tested with an experiment to prove or disprove its validity.  Sounds heavy…

What in the world does that mean?!? The scientific method should be used as a guide to help lead the process. It’s not set in stone.

You don’t need to try and solve the world’s biggest science questions! The scientific method is all about studying and learning things right around you.

As kids develop practices that involve creating, gathering data evaluating, analyzing, and communicating, they can apply these critical thinking skills to any situation. Click here to learn more about the scientific method and how to use it.

Even though the scientific method feels like it is just for big kids…

This method can be used with kids of all ages! Have a casual conversation with younger kiddos, or do a more formal notebook entry with older kiddos!

Read more…

Helpful Science Resources To Get You Started

Here are a few resources that will help you introduce science more effectively to your kiddos or students and feel confident yourself when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.

Get your FREE printable Christmas STEM activities guide!

#1 Candy Cane Experiment: Temperature of Water

Variation: I was trying to decide if we should use the candy canes or the peppermints, so my son suggested we do both. Then I suggested we weigh the candy cane and the peppermint to see if they were the same weight. STEM is all about building on curiosity!

We discovered that both candies are the same weight but differ in shape. We used a kitchen scale and had the opportunity to discuss the numbers and measurements between ounces and grams.

How will the shapes of the peppermint and the candy cane affect the results? Which will dissolve faster? Make a prediction, set up an experiment, and test your theory. You can read more about the scientific method for kids here.

You Will Need:

  • Small Candy Canes
  • Small peppermints {Optional}
  • Water
  • Cups
  • Stopwatch/Timer and/or Kitchen Scale
  • Printable Science Worksheet {scroll down}

Experiment #1 Set Up

STEP 1. Fill your cups with the same amount of water but at different temperatures. Make sure to label what you have in each cup.

We chose room temperature water, boiled water from the kettle, and freezer cold water.

WARNING: Younger kids will require adult assistance for handling very hot water!

STEP 2. Add one candy cane or peppermint to each cup.  Make sure you add the same type of candy cane to each cup.

Optional: Makeup two cups of each type of liquid if you want to compare candy canes and round peppermints.

STEP 3.  Set the timer to record how long each peppermint or candy cane takes to dissolve.

STEP 4. Observe what happens.

Please download our candy cane science worksheet below to record your results.

Christmas STEM activity

Candy Cane Experiment worksheet

Add this dissolving candy cane experiment page to a science journal to extend the activity for older kids! Join the library club for instant access to extra observation pages and hundreds of projects!

#2 Candy Cane Experiment: Different Liquids

This candy cane experiment explores how fast the candy cane dissolves in different solutions that you can easily make up for yourself, salt water and sugar water.

How will the type of liquid affect the results? Which will dissolve faster?

You Will Need:

  • 6 cups of water
  • ½ cup sugar, divided
  • ½ cup salt, divided
  • 6 candy canes

#2 Candy Cane Experiment Set Up

STEP 1. To make your solutions… Add 1 cup of water to three different cups. Then add ¼ cup sugar to one of the cups, stirring until it is dissolved. Add ¼ cup salt to the second cup, stirring until dissolved.  The third cup is the control.

STEP 2. Heat another 3 cups of water until hot. Place 1 cup of hot water into another three cups. Into one of these cups, add ¼ cup sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Into the second cup with hot water, add ¼ cup salt, stirring until dissolved.  The third cup is the control. 

STEP 3. Place one unwrapped candy cane into each cup of water. Set a timer for 2 minutes.

When the timer goes off, check the candy canes and make note of which have changed. Continue checking the candy canes every 2 to 5 minutes, making note of the changes.

Discuss which liquids caused the candy canes to dissolve faster/slower and why.

If desired, repeat the experiment using different room-temperature liquids such as vinegar, liquid dish soap, oil, soda pop, etc.

Why Do Candy Canes Dissolve?

Water vs Oil

Candy canes are made up of sugar molecules! Sugar dissolves in water because energy is given off when the sucrose molecules (which make up sugar) form bonds with the water molecules. The sugar molecules attract water molecules and if powerful enough of an attraction, will separate and dissolve!

What about oil? The sugar in candy canes is soluble in water but not in oil. You would have noticed that when you place a candy cane in oil, it won’t dissolve in the same way it would in water.

The solubility of a substance depends on the nature of the solvent (the substance in which the solute dissolves), and sugar, the main component of candy canes, is hydrophilic (water-attracting) but hydrophobic (oil-repelling).

The Effect of Temperature

The solubility of substances, including candy canes, generally increases with temperature. In hot water, molecules move more rapidly than in cold water because they have higher kinetic energy. This increased movement and energy lead to more collisions between water molecules and sugar molecules on the surface of the candy cane.

The collisions between water molecules and sugar molecules are crucial for the dissolving process. With higher temperatures, there are more collisions, so more opportunities for sugar molecules to break away from the candy cane and become surrounded by water molecules.

The increased energy and movement at higher temperatures also weakens the intermolecular forces holding the sugar molecules together in the candy cane. As a result, it is easier for water molecules to break these forces and incorporate the sugar into the water, leading to a faster dissolving time.

Try These Candy Cane Activities

More Fun Dissolving Experiments

Printable Christmas STEM Project Pack


  • 25+ Christmas theme science and STEM activities with printable sheets, instructions, and useful information all using easy-to-source materials perfect for limited-time needs. Includes a holiday theme engineering pack with fun, problem-based challenges for kids to solve! NEW observation sheets included.
  • Try a Santa’s Letter airplane challenge or take the gingerbread house-building challenge! 
  • Explore the five senses with a specially designed Santa’s Lab pack.
  • Try a mini nature study with your favorite type of Christmas tree.
  • Try your hand at building shapes with gumdrop structure challenge cards or build shapes with jingle bells. Or try the Christmas-themed paper chain challenge!
  • Christmas Screen-free Coding activities include algorithm games, binary code ornaments, and more!
  • Explore 6+ Christmas Art Projects with famous artist-inspired activities that combine art history, process art techniques, and more with simple to-do ideas.