Simple Candy Osmosis Experiment

Demonstrate Osmosis Using Gummy Bears

You can use gummy bears to demonstrate how osmosis works.
You can use gummy bears to demonstrate how osmosis works. Water travels from an area of high water density through the gelatin to an area of low water density, swelling the candy. Martin Leigh, Getty Images

Osmosis is the diffusion of water across a semipermeable membrane. The water moves from an area of higher to lower solvent concentration (an area of lower to higher solute concentration). It's an important passive transport process in living organisms, with applications to chemistry and other sciences. You don't need fancy lab equipment to observe osmosis. You can experiment with the phenomenon using gummy bears and water.

Here's what you do:

Osmosis Experiment Materials

  • gummy bear candies (or other gummy candy)
  • water
  • plate or shallow bowl

The gelatin of the gummy candies acts as a semipermeable membrane. Water can enter the candy, but it's much harder for sugar and coloring to leave exit it.

What You Do

It's easy! Simply place one or more of the candies in the dish and pour in some water. Over time, water will enter the candies, swelling them. Compare the size and "squishiness" of these candies with how they looked before. Notice the colors of the gummy bears starts to appear lighter. This is because the pigment molecules (solute molecules) are being diluted by the water (solvent molecules) as the process progresses.

What do you think would happen if you used a different solvent, such as milk or honey, that already contains some solute molecules? Make a prediction, then try it and see.

What Is Reverse Osmosis and How Does It Work?