Debunked: Does the TikTok cocoa powder trick actually work?

Is it a load of 🧢?


Whether it’s grinding pepper into a bowlful of water and then sticking a finger covered in dishsoap in to magically move all of the pepper to the side, or the classic milk and food colouring trick – if TikTok audiences love anything, it’s a good at-home science experiment. And the latest one to take over the entire damn app is the TikTok cocoa powder trick.

It’s pretty simple. You get a spoonful of cocoa powder, dip it in milk, and then poke it with a cocktail stick, at which point the milk appears to magically disappear from the spoon. It’s pretty mindblowing the first time you see it, but does the TikTok cocoa powder trick actually work? And if it does, HOW THE HELL does the TikTok cocoa powder trick work? Well, I tried it for myself to find out.

@mrs.b.tv🤯🥛Milk is 87% water!🥛🤯 ##hydrophobic ##learnontiktok ##tiktokpartner ##scienceathome ##cocoapowder ##womeninstem♬ original sound – Mrs. Nancy Bullard

Does the TikTok cocoa powder trick actually work?

I mean, according to the above clip and numerous other videos – yes – but that wasn’t going to be enough for a seasoned sceptic when it comes to internet trends such as myself. So, I headed to my own kitchen cupboard and got the retrieved the necessary components.

Spoon into the cocoa powder, then into the milk. Yes, a rather painful waste of both, but this was a worthwhile process for what I was rewarded with next:

@ainsworthharrySort of works?? ##cocoa ##cocoapowder ##milk ##experiment ##science♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 山口夕依

Well sort of. It didn’t work as well as some of the examples I’ve seen, but it did… sort of work.

What is the science behind the TikTok cocoa powder trick?

It’s actually pretty simple. Cocoa powder is a hydrophobic substance, meaning that water can’t enter it when it is in one big pile (ie on a spoon). When it is stirred, it can obviously be mixed into drinks and cake mixes, but when it is still, liquids roll from it like it does with any other hydrophobic substance.

When you poke a stick into the layer of liquid that is created on the outside, you break the seal like popping a balloon, and the liquid falls away to reveal the dry powder underneath. And that’s it!

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