Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cheetos as Thermal Insulators

Suppose you are on a picnic and it's hot outside, and you would like to keep your soda cold a little longer.  You happen to have some Cheetos at the picnic. Could you keep your soda cold by wrapping the can in Cheetos?

For this experiment we took a soda out of the refrigerator, opened it, put a digital thermometer in it, and recorded the temperature every 30 seconds, for 35 minutes.

Then we took some duct tape and put cheetos on it. We learned from our last experiment that Cheetos Puffs really don't stack nicely, so we tried cutting the cheetos into straight pieces. This gave us smaller gaps between the Cheetos.  

Then wrapped the Cheetos around a cold can.

Since the can had been out of the fridge for a while as we wrapped our Cheeto insulation around it, we put the can back in the fridge for 30 minutes to let it cool back down. We then took it out and followed the same procedure, measuring the temperature every 30 seconds for 35 minutes. 

For the last part of the experiment we put a can in a foam can holder designed for the purpose of keeping cans cool. We expected this to work the best. 

During the first 10 minutes of all of the experiments the temperature of the soda fluctuated up and down. We think this had to do with the carbon dioxide bubbles being released from the soda. (If we were to do the experiment again we would use plain water.)

This charts shows our measurements of the temperature rising over time.  

Amazingly enough, the Cheetos were the best insulator with the soda rising only 3.2 degrees. The soda in the foam can insulator rose 3.7 degrees, and the plain can rose 4.4 degrees farenheit. So the next time you want to keep your soda cold, make sure you have a handful of Cheetos.

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