Introduction: Get the Iron Out of Your Cornflakes

Picture of Get the Iron Out of Your Cornflakes

*-* This Instructable is in English. Please visit our website for Dutch instructions. *-*

*-* Deze Instructable is in het Engels. Ga naar onze website voor Nederlandse instructies. *-*

‘Fortified with iron’ is a sentence that can be read on several cereal packages – mostly the ones that claim to be a healthy breakfast. Here’s an experiment to find out what it really means.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
  • 100 g of cornflakes (fortified with iron - read package)
  • 0,5 l of warm water
  • mixer or blender
  • large zipper bag
  • magnet (the stronger, the better - try a neodymium magnet)

*-* Be careful with strong magnets - read the safety instructions *-*

Step 2: Instructions

  • Add the cornflakes to the water and let them soak for a while
  • Mix thouroughly until you obtain a smooth mixture
  • Pour the cornflakes-with-water into the bag en zip it
  • Put the bag on the table and spread the mush over the entire bag
  • Move the magnet over the bag, towards one corner

*-* Don't try to put the strong magnet IN the bag, because you'll end up with a magnet covered in very-hard-to-remove-iron-powder *-*

Step 3: What Happens?

Picture of What Happens?

You've now collected a bunch of black particles in the corner of the bag. That's the iron used to 'fortify' the cereal. Breakfast cereal factories add food grade iron powder to their cornflakes. That's a different kind of iron, compared to the iron in for example spinach or red meat. In nature, iron occurs as ions (Fe2+ and/or Fe3+). Your body can easily absorb these iron ions.

But adding iron ions as a micronutrient to foods, is not the best idea. They strongly interact with other food constituents. For example, they cause discolouring of bananas added to breakfast cereal. That's why the iron used to fortify cereal is metallic iron. In your stomach, this metallic iron is partly oxidised into ions with high bioavailablility. And it doesn't change the taste and colour of the food it's fortifying.

*-* Handle the isolated iron powder with care. It's no longer suitable for consumption, can cause skin irritation and causes serious damage if it enters your eyes. As long as you leave the iron powder in the mush, you're safe. *-*

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