Annabel's House of Books

Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

Kitchen chemistry

As I’ve been very busy this week, and I’ve let myself get bogged down in a short novel of only 165 pages, I’m writing about something else again today…

One of the nicest parts of working as a lab technician in a school is when you get to help the children in the classroom during practicals – I used to work in a senior school and only had rare opportunities to do this. At Christmas I moved over to the prep school, and it’s really fun working with the younger pupils who often need assistance.

We did a great short practical experiment yesterday … getting the iron out of cornflakes. Yes, you did read correctly – most breakfast cereals are fortified with extra iron amongst other vitamins and minerals. If you happen to have a good strong magnet, this is a good example of kitchen chemistry that anyone can do at home with their kids.

· Get a cupful of cornflakes and pulverise them finely. We put them in a Ziploc bag and used a rolling pin.
· Put them into a container (e.g. sandwich box) and add enough hand hot water to make a really watery slurry – about a cupful. You need the grains to expand, go really mushy and disintegrate.
· Cover your magnet with a double layer of clingfilm – make sure you will be able to unwrap it easily.
· Then stir the slurry gently with the magnet for about 5-10 minutes. Try not to touch the bottom of the container.
· Get a sheet of white paper or card and unwrap the magnet so the wet side of the clingfilm is face down on the card. You should see some little black specks – that’s the iron!
· There is just 2.4mg of iron in a 30g bowl of Kellogg’s cornflakes, so don’t expect too much. Interestingly(!) having just been shopping I found that Nestles cereal like Cheerios have more iron, and Tesco own brand has more still.
· One of my scientific friends tells me that with a higher iron cereal you can float a flake on water and drag it round with a magnet … Next time I’m buying I must check that out.

Now enough of school – I’m on half term. YIPPEE!


  1. Why didn’t they do this sort of experiment in my schooldays? No rude comments please.

  2. Why didn’t they do this sort of experiment in my schooldays? No rude comments please.

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