Heavy Metal Cereal

Here's what you'll need...
  • cereal that has 100% of your daily value of iron
  • 2 resealable sandwich bags
  • water
  • strong magnets

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The nutrition panel on the side of your breakfast cereal has lots of interesting stuff. There's vitamins like Vitamin A and C. Important healthy stuff like Calcium and Folic Acid. There is even metals like Zinc and Iron.

But what is the difference between the iron in your cereal and the iron used to make nails? Nothing. Iron is iron. And we can prove this with a quick kitchen experiment!

First grab a box of cereal and check the nutrition panel. We're looking for a cereal that has 100% of your daily value of iron. Healthy grown up cereals like Total work great! Cereals that have even 90% won't work as well, but it's always fun to experiment and see what happens!


Once you have your cereal all picked out, pour some into one of your resealable sandwhich bags. Fill it up and close the bag because we have to crunch it up! (Sometimes it helps to seal the bag almost all the way, but leave a little opening for air to sneak out.)

Now make a fist and crunch! Crunch, crunch, crunch until those big flakes are no more than teeny tiny cereal particles. The smaller the bits the easier it will be to get the iron out so have at it! Once you are satisfied with you crunching, pour the tiny cereal bits into your other resealable bag. This is important because most of the time the whole crunching process pokes little holes in your first bag. And we don't want a bag with holes in it because the next step it to fill the bag with water.

So now we have our crunched up cereal in a new bag and we've filled the bag with water. Seal it up and let it sit and get gross and soggy. After a few minutes of waiting, grab your magnets and rub the magnet around on the outside of the bag. Keep repeating. After a while you'll notice a fuzzy, dark spot. It might not be that big, but you'll see that it follows your magnet! Those are the iron particles in your cereal. It's not much, but that little bit of iron is really important.

So why is there iron in cereal? Iron helps our body in some very big ways. First, we need iron in our blood. Iron is found in hemoglobin, which is a component of our red blood cells. The iron is needed because it helps oxygen bond to the blood cells so the blood can take that oxygen from our lungs to other parts of our body like our brain. Iron also helps our muscles store and use oxygen and we'll also find iron in many enzymes, the things that help us digest food.

Iron does some really important jobs inside our body so when you don't get enough your whole body can be affected. You might get tired, have trouble thinking and even cause some of your organs not to work right.

Written by the Science Off Center team

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