Alginate Worms

The alginate worms are a fun way to explore polymers. They are slimy but edible. Make sure to wash your hands and clean all the needed materials before starting this experiment in your kitchen!

You’ll need:

2.4 g of sodium alginate
5 g calcium chloride
a few drops of food coloring
tap water
measuring cup (1 cup)
2 bowls
1 syringe

Prepare the Alginate solution

  1. Place a cup of water and a few drops of food coloring in a bowl.
  2. Slowly add the alginate powder in the bowl of water. Using a hand mixer mix thoroughly.
  3. Set aside the alginate solution for an hour to remove the bubbles from solution.

Prepare the Calcium bath

  1. Place 2 cups of water in a bowl.
  2. Add the calcium chloride to the bowl and stir to dissolve.

Make the Alginate Worms

  1. Draw the alginate solution into the syringe.
  2. Squirt the alginate solution into the calcium bath
  3. Start playing with your edible alginate worms

How are the Worms Formed?

Sodium alginate is a polymer: a large molecule made of many identical smaller molecules. Sodium alginate in solution has sodium and alginate ions. We add it to a solution of calcium chloride, which contains calcium and chloride ions. Calcium attaches to alginate molecules to make calcium alginate, an insoluble gel. A slimy (but edible) worm! Some acid reflux medicines (e.g Gaviscon) use calcium alginate to form a protective gel in your tummy!Aren’t polymers amazing?