Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Melting Chocolate Experiment

It tends to get around 110 degrees in the afternoons which must be what it feels like to fall into the sun.

Nicholas understands the basics about light waves. He knows that they will reflect off of light colored clothing and and be absorbed into dark colored clothing. I thought we'd try a little experiment with light and dark chocolates to see if the darker ones would absorb more heat and therefore melt faster in the sun.

Sounds like fun!

We put pieces of white, dark, and milk chocolate on a tray in the direct sun.



We fully expected a tray of melted chocolate in a matter of minutes.

That did not happen.

After about 30 minutes, the tray looked almost exactly the same with the exception of a light sheen on the dark and milk chocolate and a very slight softening of the edges where they made contact with the tray.

We couldn't believe it!

This would not do.

We wanted melted chocolate and melted chocolate we must have.

So we got out a trusty magnifying glass to give the sun a helping hand by concentrating the rays on the chocolate.



Woo hoo! We got our chocolate to light on fire!



However, as you can see, it still didn't melt into a tray of goo! The chocolate was still very much intact and even the letter showed little sign of distress. How odd!



We also tried changing up the surface that the chocolate was on. Stuart got out a piece of black foil that he has used with photography shoots. We figured since dark colors absorb heat then the black foil would get hotter than the reflective silver tray and therefore help to melt the chocolate.

The edges of the chocolate touching the black foil showed signs of a slight melt finally rearing its head and the form of the piece of chocolate was just barely starting to warp. However, the majority of the bar remained intact and showed no signs of turning into a wet pile of goo anytime soon.

So it got pelted with some microscope-enhanced rays as well.



Chocolate melts at around 84-87 degrees so none of this really made sense. We picked up the piece of black foil and the chocolate was clearly melted inside but the outer layer of chocolate was still trying to hold together.



I don't understand it but maybe there is something done in the manufacturing process to try to keep the outer layer from melting as quickly to prolong it from melting in your hands while eating it.



Nicholas pressed down on the white chocolate and it did give way but was still quite firm.



However, the milk and dark chocolates were both melted inside.



Although it didn't have the expected results, we had fun with our little experiment. The white chocolate did hold its form longer than the dark and milk chocolate. However, we also discussed the problems with our experiment. The milk and dark chocolates were basic Hershey bars but the white chocolate bar was a more expensive premium bar and may have had more fats and other rich ingredients that may have changed the outcome. Of course, the fact that white chocolate doesn't actually contain the cocoa solids of "real" chocolate may have also been a factor.

Regardless, Nicholas certainly enjoyed snacking on our leftover experiment supplies!


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