A Science Experiment of Rubbing Foods on Brown Paper Bags


Every living thing contains a number of organic compounds. One of these essential compound is lipids. Lipids include waxes, phospholipids, triglycerides and are also known as fatty acids. Just one gram of fat will accumulate over twice as much energy as the same amount of carbohydrates. Lipids are water soluble because they contain glycerol, hydrogen and carbon. The simplest way to check for lipids in food is the brown paper test.


  • The purpose of this experiment is to determine which foods contain the most fat. Since the lipids will not disappear, any greasy spots will remain permanently. After completion of the experiment, you will be able to determine which foods contain lipids and the relative amounts in each sample.


  • When planning an experiment, one should always follow the scientific method. The first step of that method is to ask a question. The topic chosen can be as straightforward as: Which food has the most fat? The next step is to explore the topic and develop a hypothesis. The hypothesis chosen is the predicted answer to the question. Depending on the list of foods chosen, your theory could be: I think that the butter will have the most fat.


  • To complete this experiment, the following materials are required: brown paper grocery bags, scissors, a pencil and various foods to sample. Some examples of foods would be a raw potato, mayonnaise, water, margarine, potato chips, celery and olive oil. By selecting a wide variety of foods, you will receive a better range of results. Some other supplies needed include a knife, measuring spoons, a cutting board and paper towels.


  • Cut the paper bags along the folds into equal pieces, one for each of the test foods and one for a control. Use the cutting board and knife to cut the test foods into small pieces, keeping the pieces as uniform as possible. Next, using the pencil, write the name of the food on the corresponding section of brown paper. Place paper towels under the pieces of paper to absorb the excess fats and prepare the foods. Rub each test food for a standard amount of time and place aside to dry. Record the results at regular intervals, including at least one 24 hours later.


  • Samples containing higher quantities of lipids, or fats, will leave oily spots on the brown paper that will not disappear. Some foods will leave spots that will vanish and leave the paper looking like the control piece. The larger the amount of lipids, the more translucent the paper will appear. Those samples that do contain fats will not evaporate, but will allow light to pass through the greasy spot.


  • Photo Credit Crinkled Brown paper bag background texture image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com
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