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How to Remove the Shell from an Egg {a Science Fair Project Idea}

Updated on April 11, 2013
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge homeschools her children and holds an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Elementary Education, and a BA in History.

What does a de-shelled egg look like? Don't just IMAGINE an egg-shaped water balloon, make it yourself with this experiment.
What does a de-shelled egg look like? Don't just IMAGINE an egg-shaped water balloon, make it yourself with this experiment. | Source

Sure, anyone can see the inside of an egg just by cracking it, but you can remove the eggshell and still keep the egg in tact with a simple solution— vinegar— and several hours of time. (Can’t imagine what this experiment looks like, visualize an egg-shaped translucent waterbaloon.)

Here’s how you can make a naked egg, whether it be just for fun, a science activity in the class, or for an official science fair project.

For this experiment you'll need: vinegar, a glass cup, and a fresh un-cooked egg.

Instructions

  1. Place a raw egg in the glass cup.
  2. Pour vinegar into the cup until the egg is covered. It’s okay if the egg floats a little bit.
  3. Set the glass aside in a safe place and wait.

The egg's membrane separates the inside of the egg from the shell.
The egg's membrane separates the inside of the egg from the shell. | Source

What’s Happening To the Eggshell?

As soon as you put the egg in the vinegar, you should notice that the vinegar (which is an acid) reacts with the shell and bubbles form. In addition to the bubbles on the egg, you’ll likely see bubbles float up from the egg to the top surface of the vinegar. After a few hours, you’ll see some froth on the surface of the liquid. This is a good indication that the eggshell is disintegrating or dissolving.

After half a day of soaking, you can gently pour most of the vinegar out of the cup, and replace it with new vinegar. While you don’t have to do this, revitalizing the acid will make the eggshell come off the egg quicker. Depending upon the egg, and the strength of the vinegar, it may take up to 2 days for the shell to come off.

Don’t try to fish the egg out with a spoon though; you may accidentally break the thin membrane that holds the egg together. Once the eggshell is mostly dissolved, you can carefully pluck the egg from the liquid and rub the remaining shell off; it will feel like a powdery substance.

In addition to the translucent membrane, you’ll notice that the egg is actually larger than what it started as. This is because the egg’s membrane has absorbed some of the water from the vinegar (in fancy science terms, that’s osmosis). Don’t believe the movement of water from the vinegar to the inside of the egg? Try adding some dye to the vinegar and allowing the egg to soak for several hours. Then (carefully) pop the egg; you should find that the color is inside the egg and not just on the membrane

Fun Ideas with the Naked Egg

As if the shell-less egg isn’t cool enough, you can also lightly squish the egg, and bounce it off a table. (Consider testing how high a de-shelled egg can bounce…. Does it matter how long the egg soaks?)

Looking for another amazing option? Try soaking the de-shelled egg in corn syrup, it will actually dehydrate the egg and make the egg membrane and yolk only. Looking for a colorful egg? Try adding food coloring to some water and dropping in the de-shelled egg. After a few hours the egg will transfer the color from the water into the egg white. But be careful with this colored egg, if— and when— it breaks it will definitely make a mess.

No matter what you ultimately plan on doing with the waterbaloon-like egg, it sure is a cool example of science-in-action!

Video: How to Make the Naked Egg

Science Fair Ideas

  • Track how long it takes the egg to get to various stages of the shell dissolving process.
  • Measure the size (or weight) of the egg at different stages.
  • Does the amount of time in the vinegar effect the size or weight of the egg?
  • Do white eggshells dissolve at the same rate as brown eggshells?
  • How much liquid is left in the cup?
  • How much does the corn syrup egg weigh?

Video: Stages of a Naked Egg

Comments

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    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 

      5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, this is fun! Voted up and interesting. What kind of gas is coming off when the egg bubbles?

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