Two Food Chemistry Questions - Edible Foam And Ammonium Chloride

Here is a clip of a YouTuber making a Japanese candy treat that results in an edible foam. Note that there’s no commercial equipment or molecular gastronomy going on here; this is a product intended for children, and the process can be done in a home kitchen.

What’s the chemical reaction taking place here?

Later in the video, the host eats the dreaded Salted Licorice. Only she eats sugared candy, not licorice, covered in the salt (ammonium chloride, or NH4Cl). Regardless, she winces and gasps at the taste, and almost vomits, complaining of the strong aspartame taste the entire time.

I, personally, have no problem with the taste of aspartame. But I’m curious, is the NH4Cl amplifying the aspartame taste here, or perhaps putting off its own similar taste?

No answer here, but for ref, Wiki gives on ammonium chloride/ aka sal ammoniac*: …It is mainly used as fertilizer and a flavouring agent in some types of liquorice…under the name sal ammoniac or salmiak is used as food additive under the E number E510, working as a yeast nutrient in breadmaking and as an acidifier.[17] It is a feed supplement for cattle and an ingredient in nutritive media for yeasts and many microorganisms.

Ammonium chloride is used to spice up dark sweets called salmiak (popular in Nordic and other nearby countries),[18] in baking to give cookies a very crisp texture, and in the liquor Salmiakki Koskenkorva for flavouring. In Iran, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan and Arab countries it is called “Noshader” and is used to improve the crispness of snacks such as samosas and jalebi…

*Not to be confused with the electrician by the same name.

I’ve had various types of salted licorice before (in fact, I quite love them), though I haven’t had those fruit-flavored type candies with ammonium chloride on them. Don’t know if I’d call the flavor of the salt “aspartame,” but I happen to like aspartame as a sugar substitute. Aspartame has its own kind of “dryness” to the sweetness, but I can’t identify a specific flavor that I would call “aspartame.” Ammonium chloride has a bit of salty and nose-biting flavor to it. Not sure how to describe it. Like salt & sharpness. I can definitely feel it somewhere in my nasal cavity when I eat a particularly strong version of it.

As for the “washing machine candy”, you can find it with the ingredients shown in English:

Citric acid + baking soda in water should foam quite nicely.

NM - ninja-ed

I think I have a new favorite food critic! She tries all kinds of stuff, I’ll have to check out the beef fudge.


Somewhat tangential, but if that subject interests you, there is a manga you might enjoy that is about a traditional Japanese candy store that carries a class of “under 100 yen” candy marketed to children. Each chapter (over 100 of them fan-translated so far) focuses on a different real candy sold in that type of shop. (A handful of which I’ve known in the US, but most of which are entirely novel to me.) There are several “make your own candy” products sold in Japan–this chapter is about one of them.

I do molecular gastronomy in my home kitchen all the time, and some of the results (not the Cointreau caviar!) are for my kids - the chocolate agar spaghetti, the creme brulee spheres. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Slight hijack, but does anyone know a good source for food-grade ammonium chloride in non-huge quantities? I’m interested in experimenting with some homemade salty licorice, but a lot of the NH4CL that’s available online seems to be intended for fertilizer or aquarium use, or is in sizes of a kilo or more.

Alternatively, are other grades safe to eat? I don’t know what kind of impurities they might have.