Plasma Grape

CAUTION!! Be careful with this!! This experiment uses a knife AND a microwave, so you’re playing with things that slice and gets things hot. If you’re not careful you could cut yourself or burn yourself. Please use care!

We’re going to create the fourth state of matter in your microwave using food.  Note – this is NOT the kind of plasma doctors talk about that’s associated with blood.  These are two entirely different things that just happen to have the same name.  It’s like the word ‘trunk’, which could be either the storage compartment of a car or an elephant’s nose.  Make sense?

Plasma is what happens when you add enough energy (often in the form of raising the temperature) to a gas so that the electrons break free and start zinging around on their own.  Since electrons have a negative charge, having a bunch of free-riding electrons causes the gas to become electrically charged.  This gives some cool properties to the gas.  Anytime you have charged particles (like naked electrons) off on their own, they are referred to by scientists as ions.  Hopefully this makes the dry textbook definition make more sense now (“Plasma is an ionized gas.”)

So here’s what you need:

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211 Responses to “Plasma Grape”
  1. Aurora says:

    It takes a little patience to find that “sweet spot” in your microwave that will make this experiment work. You’ll want to try changing the height as well as you hunt around for the right spot. Cherry tomatoes work well also – make sure there’s a little skin still connecting the two halves!

  2. maryannpalko says:

    I the experiment several times and it didn’t work. No speak, no flame. I also tried a longer time, up to a minute.

  3. lesheadrick says:

    super coooooooool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Aurora says:

    I’ve never tried an apple, and if you read over the comments you’ll find other items that people have tried and worked. I am guessing that the apple is too big to form the ionized gaseous cloud within the membrane (not enough water), but I will have to think about what’s going on to be sure.

  5. Delia Ayer says:

    Why did you use a grape. Why not an apple. What’s the chemical reaction?

  6. Aurora says:

    Ummm… yes, actually!

  7. Melissa Heath says:

    is the grape supposed to smoke?


  8. Aurora says:

    Sparked is just fine – you’re looking for an indication of energy, and sometimes it just sparks and other times it flares up, depending on the power of your microwave and how juicy that grape is.

  9. Shaun Herring says:

    Ours sparkled instead of the arc shown in the video? Did we do something wrong?

  10. Aurora says:

    Well, you are basically short circuiting your microwave, and if you aren’t fast enough to stop it in time, it might damage the interior with an arc. So I would try an old one.

  11. Twila Dawe says:

    The reason for using an old microwave is that this experiment may damage it?

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