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Why does Popcorn Pop?

General Knowledge | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod

The Science behind how Popcorn Pops

Popcorn has been around since thousands of years. Native Americans used to put corn or maize near the fire and then look at it pop into a crunchy snack. Did you know that there is a very interesting scientific phenomenon behind the popping of popcorn?

All types of corn do not pop. Popcorn has a hull of exactly the correct thickness which allows it to burst. Each kernel of the corn contains a small droplet of water inside it, because popcorn requires a little moisture to pop.

When these kernels are heated, the heat turns this water inside the corn into steam. But the steam doesn’t have anywhere to go. Thus, the kernels explode, bursting the hulls into popcorn.

Why does Popcorn have different shapes?

The water inside the corn is stored inside a circle of soft starch and this starch is surrounded by the hull. When the corn is heated and the water turns into steam, the starch changes into a really hot gelato like goop.

The kernel continues to heat up and finally, the hull explodes due to the pressure exerted by the steam, the starch, which has now become superhot and inflated, spills out of the kernel and cools immediately, forming the twisted shapes of popcorn that we see.

Did You Know

The grains which are left at the bottom of the pan which couldn’t pop are known as ‘old maids.’ This corn was too dry to pop.

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