Your kids will feel like Superman when they discover that they can bend bones in this Bone in Vinegar Science Experiment. With only a few materials plus bones from dinner, you can make your kids feel like they have super strength!
After the bouncy egg experiment, we know that vinegar does magical things to food items. Instead of an egg, this time we soaked a chicken leg bone in vinegar for several days. Can you guess what happened?
This bone in vinegar science experiment is super easy to set up. All you need is a jar, vinegar, and a bone! You can try it with any bone you want, but a chicken leg bone is probably the easiest to obtain. Simply save one or two after you eat the meat off the chicken drumsticks during dinner.
Before the experiment, ask your child to try and bend the bone. The bone should be very hard and difficult to bend. If you put too much pressure on the bone, it would break instead of bend.
Chicken Bone in Vinegar Science Experiment
- Clear jar with lid
- Chicken bone
1. Save the chicken leg bones from your meal.
2. Clean off all the meat. Rinse the bone under running water to get any excess pieces of meat off the bone.
3. Place the bone in the jar.
4. Pour enough vinegar in the jar to cover the entire bone.
5. Place the lid on the jar and let the bone soak in vinegar for at least 3 days.
6. After 3 days, remove the bone from the vinegar. Don’t pour out the vinegar yet! Does the bone look different? Rinse the vinegar off the bone. Try bending the bone. Does the bone bend like rubber?
7. Place the bone back in the vinegar and wait an additional 3 days. After 3 days, take out the bone and examine it again. Try bending the bone after rising it in water. Is it more flexible than when you tried bending it last time?
Imagine your child’s face as you take a bone, and bend it like it’s made out of rubber! This bone in vinegar science project is a fun one to do as part of your human body unit study about the skeletal system since chicken bones are similar to our bones.
Just a quick note – make sure your fingers are free of wounds when you take the chicken bone out of the vinegar! I had a small paper cut on my finger and when the open cut touched the vinegar, I was in so much pain! You can also wear gloves while handling the bone because the vinegar smell will linger on your finger for a little.
Science Behind the Bone in Vinegar Experiment
Your bones (and chicken bones) are made out of calcium, which is a mineral that builds bones and keeps them healthy. Calcium makes our bones strong, and that’s why bones are hard to bend or break. This is great news since it would be very difficult to live with flexible bones.
Vinegar is a mild acid that slowly dissolves the calcium in the bone. Once the calcium has been dissolved, the bone no longer has the mineral that kept it hard and strong. That’s why after 3 days of soaking in vinegar, you should be able to bend the rubbery chicken bone slightly as the bone is now deficient in calcium
What happens after 6 days (or longer) of soaking in vinegar? Pretty much all the calcium in the bone has been dissolved, and all you are left with is the soft bone tissue. Therefore, you can now bend the bone even further, even making the two ends touch.
My kids really wanted to cut open the bone to see what was inside. Once we cut it in half, you can see the bone marrow, the soft, spongy tissue that manufactures stem cells. The bone was so squishy at this point that you can simply squeeze the bone marrow out of the drumstick. My kids were fascinated but also grossed out.
The bone was so flexible at this point that with just two fingers, I could bend the bone in half. This bone in vinegar experiment is a great opportunity to show your kids why drinking or eating acidic food is bad for your teeth. Your bones and your teeth are very similar in that they both store calcium. Continuous consumption of acidic food or drink may damage the enamel, leaving the nerves in your teeth more exposed. Ouch!
You can try this experiment with different types of bones. Eat a rack of ribs and save a few bones for this experiment. Is the pig bone more flexible than the chicken bone after soaking in vinegar for the same number of days?
You can also test to see if size matters. Place bones of different sizes (but the same type of bones) in vinegar. Does the smaller bone become bendable sooner?
Lastly, if your kids can’t get enough of this bendy bone experiment, you can try using a different acid. Lemon juice is a great one to try out as a substitute for vinegar. Other acidic liquids include orange juice, tomato juice, citric acid, and even coffee!