Science Experiments

Steam explosions - the science of popcorn

Sun, 31st May 2009

Listen Now    Download as mp3 Part 1,2 from the show Bioengineering - Engineering Inspired By Nature

What you Need

popping corn


A small saucepan

Saucepan, preferably with a transparent lid



Vegetable Oil


What to do

Take a small handful of popcorn and crush it gently with your pliers; not into little pieces but just crack it.

Heat up some oil in the pan in the same way as you would to make normal popcorn.

Try putting in the damaged popcorn. Does it work?

Now try some undamaged popcorn. Is there a difference?

Warning: making popcorn involves things exploding in very hot oil. It is therefore really quite dangerous so be careful and keep the lid on until the pan has cooled down.

What may happen

The damaged popcorn is not very spectacular. Normally it just extrudes foam and sometimes makes very weak pops.

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