• Question: What makes popcorn pop?

    Asked by shannonlouise123 to James, Marcus, Martin, Rob, Suzanne on 19 Mar 2012. This question was also asked by 11jescar.
    • Photo: James Boone

      James Boone answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      Inside each piece of corn before they pop is some amount of water. When you heat up these pieces of corn, the water inside starts to turn into steam. This builds up a pressure inside the corn and eventually it can no longer hold together and bursts open causing the familiar ‘pop’ sound when cooking popcorn.

    • Photo: Robert Thompson

      Robert Thompson answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      Yup, I agree with James. The steam takes up more room than the water in liquid form.

    • Photo: Marcus Gallagher-Jones

      Marcus Gallagher-Jones answered on 20 Mar 2012:

      Spot on. The steam also causes the inside bit, called the endosperm, to expand. When the kernal pops it also flips inside out exposing the starchy goodness.

    • Photo: Martin Zaltz Austwick

      Martin Zaltz Austwick answered on 21 Mar 2012:

      “Starchy endosperm” is the name of my punk rock band. So… yes. Water turns into steam. In film “Real Genius” Val Kilmer fills a house with popcorn using a military laser. I’m not sure whether that would work in real life…