A carbonated beverage is packed full of dissolved carbon dioxide gas, which forms bonds with water. While the soda is in the bottle, the gas is kept in solution by the bottle’s pressurized conditions. When you pour some soda into a glass, some gas escapes and forms foam, but most stays trapped by the surface tension of the water. But all those gas bubbles want to escape, making it no wonder that soda makes you burp!
To create bubbles, the carbon dioxide needs to interact with itself, which means that the carbon dioxide’s bonds with water in the Diet Coke must be broken. A Mentos candy can help with this. Although the candy may look smooth, if you looked at it under a microscope you’d see tiny bumps coating its entire surface. This rough surface allows the bonds between the carbon dioxide gas and the water to more easily break, helping to create carbon dioxide bubbles and cause the classic eruption. The speed at which the Mentos falls through the soda can affect how large the eruption is, and this can be tested by comparing whole with crushed Mentos, the latter of which are less dense.
As the Mentos candy sinks in the bottle, the candy causes the production of more and more carbon dioxide bubbles, and the rising bubbles react with carbon dioxide that is still dissolved in the soda to cause more carbon dioxide to be freed and create even more bubbles, resulting in the eruption.