Cheetos in my ears!!

Watching Mythbusters episode about making an earwax candle inspired by Shrek made my ears itchy. So (TMI) naturally I buried my finger in there, and dug up a healthy amount of ear wax (since I didn’t do my routine after shower qtip search in a couple days [what you think I’m some kind of beast here?}). Anyway, I rolled the payload between my fingers until it formed tiny Cheetos-like structures and I dropped them into the toilet. Now, here’s the catch: due to surface tension the Cheetos float on the water (as expected). But! But, what I didn’t expect was for the Cheetos to… Um… Snap, crackle and pop? Not acoustically speaking but, positionally speaking. The little suckers seemed to move randomly on the water! Until they sank a minute later.

So, question: what are the mechanics of this. And where is the PhD dissertation explaining this phenomena?

This is borderline MPSIMS, but I actually want an explanation for this. At the very least I would like experimental confirmation of the phenomena from the qualified doper ear canals.

I’d assume that there were some particles of surfactant-like material buried in that earwax booger. What you describe reminds me of the “soap boat” pop sci experiment, where you make a small boat of flat tinfoil (it “floats” on the surface tension) and add a small piece or drop of soap on the rear end of the boat. The soap locally weakens the surface tension behind the boat, and voila! the boat starts to go forward due to the (relatively) higher surface tension in the front pulling it forward.

This is a horrifyingly awesome question. I am disturbed, but in a fascinated way.

Well? Don’t just be horrified. Please provide some experimental confirmation! :smiley:

I am so incredibly glad that my ears are self-cleaning.