Apple Oxidation Experiment

Have you ever noticed that if you slice an apple in the morning, it turns brown by lunch? This is actually a chemical reaction at work! In this experiment, you’ll learn more about how the oxygen in the air around us causes this reaction (also known as oxidation). With a little help from Ziploc® brand bags, test different liquids to see if you can figure out a way to keep apples fresh from morning to noon.

  1. Ages: 3 - 4

  2. 30 minutes - 1 hour

  3. A little messy


Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Gather your materials.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    On four Ziploc® brand sandwich bags, write the name of the liquid you’re going to test. Label a fifth bag “nothing” for your control bag. This bag will contain apples with no liquid. That way, you’ll be able to see the difference between a normal apple and the other apples that have been soaked!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Pour the water, lemon juice, vinegar, and milk in separate bags. Make sure to match each liquid to its label.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Place two apple slices in each bag. Seal the bag and lightly shake it so the liquid coats the apple slices. Let them soak for two or three minutes.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Pour any excess liquid out of the bags. Reseal them and check on the apples every 10 to 15 minutes to see what happens. Which ones turn brown? Which ones stay fresh?

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Learn moremagnifying icon graphic

    When apples are cut, the exposed fruit underneath the skin react with the oxygen in the air, which causes the apple slices to turn brown. This experiment explores how the apple slices react when coated with different liquids, like milk, lemon juice, vinegar, or water. You’ll discover lemon juice is one of the liquids that work best. That’s because lemon juice is very acidic (and why it tastes so sour!) and will react with oxygen before oxygen reacts with the apple. A light spritz of lemon juice will keep your apples fresh without altering their taste too much.

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