Shortly before Winter Break we did a couple experiments with candy canes. We wondered what would happen if we soaked a candy cane in water. We also decided to test and see what would happen if we soaked a candy cane in vegetable oil. Students formed a hypothesis and then we tested our theories.
This is what the candy canes looked like when we dropped them in the oil and water.
This is what the candy cane looked like after just a few minutes in water! The colors faded very quickly. By the next day when we observed the candy canes again, the candy cane in water had completely disappeared! However, the candy cane in oil did not change even one tiny bit.
We learned that water is often called a universal solvent because many substances dissolve in it. However, no one substance can dissolve every solute. A general rule in chemistry is that “like dissolves like.” This rule means that a solvent will dissolve substances that have similar molecular structures. Sugar dissolves in water but it does not dissolve in oil or other liquids.