The World Around Us

Chemicals in Food

How does popcorn pop?

The shell of a popcorn kernel is a hard, moisture-resistant coating protecting an interior filled with starch and some water. As the kernel gets hot, the starch inside first softens and then the water turns into steam, which raises the pressure inside the kernel. At some temperature the pressure inside the corn kernel is high enough to rupture the hard shell, and the kernel pops. The hot starch quickly cools, trapping tiny air bubbles inside and making a (delicious) solid foam.


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