I love popcorn! I remember doing a project on popcorn in sixth grade, where I brought in giant bags if popcorn I had made that morning (it was a second period class) so everyone could taste the difference between Jiffy Pop and microwave popcorn. I only got an A- because I didn’t have enough scientific data, but everyone in my class liked it! So, all’s well that ends well!
Anyway, popcorn kernels contain oil and water with starch, surrounded by a hard and strong outer coating. When this is heated, any water tries to escape via steam but cannot, therefore it stays trapped until the got oil and steam make the starch inside the kernel softer.
One article states, “When the popcorn reaches a temperature of 180 °C (356 °F) the pressure inside the kernel is around 135 psi (930 kPa), which is sufficient pressure to rupture the popcorn hull, essentially turning the kernel inside-out.” This pressure is quickly released, making the proteins and starch turn into a foam that cools into the popcorn part that we eat!
I have always hated when a kernel doesn’t pop. The reason? According to one site, ” If the hull has a small crack or otherwise compromised area, pressure will not build within the kernel. As the moisture in the kernel heats and turns to steam, it slowly leaks out of the kernel. These kernels may stay completely intact or will split open before the starch gelatinizes, causing an open but compact kernel.” It can also be due to faulty, uneven heating or low moisture content.
I have always loved eating popcorn, but, when I did my experiment in sixth grade. I didn’t really focus on the chemical properties, or even how popcorn is made! It is just so amazing how we never take it account how something many Americans eat in the movies, at parties, or even as a quick snack! So sit back, relax, and go eat popcorn!
So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!