Are you eating nails for breakfast?

Are you eating nails for breakfast?

Investigate the iron in your food!

What you need:

  • Zip-lock bag / sandwich bag
  • Water
  • Cereal
  • Magnet

How to:

This experiment works best with cereals that are fortified with iron. Check the back of the packet to find out if your cereal has added iron.

  1. Put two handfuls of cereal in a zip-lock or sandwich bag.
  2. Use your hands to crush the cereal into little bits.
  3. Pour water in until the bag is around three quarters full.
  4. Seal the bag and squeeze to mix the water and cereal. Leave for 15 minutes or until the mixture looks soupy.
  5. Put the magnet on top of the bag and hold on. Turn the bag upside down, still holding onto the magnet, and shake gently in a circular motion.
  6. Turn the bag over again - still holding onto the magnet!
  7. Lift the magnet up so that just one side is touching the bag. What do you see?

You should see little dark bits at the top of the cereal. This is iron! Try drawing small circles on the bag with the magnet. The iron should clump together and be easier to see.

Here's Steve Spangler showing you how to do it:

If the experiment didn't work your cereal may not have much iron in it, or your magnet may not be strong enough to attract the iron. The stronger the magnet, the more iron you can pull out. Steve Spangler uses a neodymium magnet, which is very strong.

Try experimenting with different cereals to see which ones have the most iron in.

What's happening?

A bit of iron is good for you. It helps to make your red blood cells, which are important for carrying oxygen around the body. Iron is found in green vegetables and red meat. Cereal makers sometimes add iron so you can make sure you eat enough every day. We need a regular supply of iron as it is not easily absorbed by the body. So you might not be eating nails for breakfast...but you're eating iron!