Density of an egg

1. Sep 28, 2014

ciubba

I have determined in lab that a hard boiled egg is denser than a raw egg; however, I am not sure that I entirely understand this phenomenon. Assuming my data is correct, my assumptions are as follows:

1. Boiling the egg weakened its exterior, allowing water to enter the shell, thus increasing its mass.
2. The denaturing of the proteins altered the properties of the egg in such a manner that the density of the egg was increased.​

Have I stumbled upon the proper line of inquiry?

2. Sep 28, 2014

phinds

I don't have any scientific idea in answer to your question, but neither sounds right. Certainly changing the form of the proteins doesn't seem likely to change the mass of the egg.

The one thing I can think of is that I don't think raw eggs have an air cavity, but boiled eggs do. Perhaps the mass of the raw egg material is the same but what's inside the shell now includes some air. Doesn't seem like that would make a measurable difference but I suppose that depends on how sensitive your scale is.

Ah ... another thought. Maybe the size of the whole shell is reduced a bit by the boiling, along with the innards being made to occupy a smaller volume and the air doesn't fully make up the different (to keep the shell from shrinking). Have you measured the volume to be the same and the weight to be more or the weight to be the same and the volume to be less?

What exactly DID you measure to conclude that the boiled egg is more dense?

3. Sep 28, 2014

ciubba

We weren't allowed to mass the eggs directly, so I added salt to a water solution until the egg appeared to equal its density i.e. it "just floated". At this point, I used a 10 mL glass pipet to mass 10 mL of the solution, which I subtracted from the mass of the glass pipet to obtain the mass of the salt water,. Knowing that the volume of the water was 10 mL, I was able to determine the density.

I'm somewhat confident that my results are correct as I recreated the experiment in my kitchen a few moments ago by placing both a raw egg and a hard boiled egg in the same salt solution. Evidently, the boiled egg sank whilst the raw egg floated. Unfortunately, we have not covered any chemical mechanisms in class that would explain the change in density of the egg.

4. Sep 29, 2014

Staff: Mentor

They do. Whether the size of the cavity is the same in the raw and boiled egg is another thing.

5. Sep 29, 2014

phinds

Borek, you know the most amazing things. :w

6. Sep 30, 2014

ciubba

So, if the air cavity was penetrated by the solid mass of denatured proteins, what effect would that have on the volume and mass of the egg as a whole? It seems to me that unless the air can escape from the egg density should remain constant. If it can escape from the egg then my results should be opposite.

Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
7. Sep 30, 2014

Staff: Mentor

Have you ever seen boiling egg? It bubbles. That means it also sucks the air inside while cooling. It can also mean it sucks water if you put it in the cold water after boiling (like I do, to make it easier to remove the shell).

8. Sep 30, 2014

ciubba

No, I prefer my eggs soft-boiled! Thank you, I understand what produced the change in density now.