Here’s a free, easy but not-so-fast project you can do as part of a science or ancient Egypt unit study. Mummifying an apple was an excellent representation of what happens to organic matter when it is dried out using salt. We used a mixture of baking soda and salt to mimic natron, the salt used by the ancient Egyptians in the mummification process. Natron is a naturally occur salt that is abundant in the Egypt.
We left our apple in the salt mixture for two months, but the majority of the mummification took place in the first month because the moisture collected in the bottom of the jar rather than being able to run off the way it would if you were actually mummifying a person. The idea was a little gross, I confess. You don’t think about the liquid that comes off a person’s body during mummification (at least I didn’t), and this activity highlighted that process.
It was also amazing to see the apple dehydrate and change colors, and yet it didn’t rot. It was still squishy when it was finished, and might have become dryer had we exchanged the salt.
Duration: 15 min prep, 2 month wait, 10 min
Level: 5 years and up
Mix 1 part salt with 1 part baking soda. Cut apple in half or quarters. Place apple in jar and fill with salt mixture. Wait 1-2 months, then extract the apple and observe!