Calorimetry Experiment: Assessing the Energy Content of Food Samples

Categories: Chemistry


The aim of the experiment is to investigate whether the energy released by the food samples is reflective of the data presented in individual nutrition panels.


  1. If food samples are heated, then the energy inside of the samples will burn and result in an increase in the temperature of the water because the energy in food acts as fuel for the samples to burn.
  2. When heated, the energy stored in bonds within the food are weakened and release energy in the form of heat and sometimes light.

    The heat released is measured in Kilojoules (KJ). Typically, the more kilojoules of energy that a food contains, the more heat and light can be measured when burned, with some exceptions. This means that food high in KJ will release a sufficient amount of energy and will burn better than food without much energy (few KJ). When energy in food has been consumed, it is oxidized then combusted and broken down to supply the energy that is required to perform simple tasks such as respirating, digesting, and moving.

    Get quality help now
    checked Verified writer

    Proficient in: Chemistry

    star star star star 5 (339)

    “ KarrieWrites did such a phenomenal job on this assignment! He completed it prior to its deadline and was thorough and informative. ”

    avatar avatar avatar
    +84 relevant experts are online
    Hire writer

    The specific heat energy of water (4.18) allows the water to absorb the heat coming from the burned food. In this case, it was assumed that all of the energy that was released and converted into heat was used to increase the water's temperature. In order to properly calculate the amount of combusted energy that was absorbed by the water, the equation; mass of the water x SHC of water x the final water temperature was used.

    Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
    Number of pages
    Email Invalid email

    By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

    "You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
    Write my paper

    You won’t be charged yet!

    It is expected that food high in fats and oils will provide more energy per gram than foods that are rich in carbohydrates or proteins.


  • Safety glasses
  • Thermometer
  • Test tube
  • Measuring cylinder
  • Bunsen burner
  • Heat mat
  • Tongs
  • Paperclip
  • Stand and clamp
  • Scales


  • Food samples
  • Marshmallow, dog food, biscuit, liver treat


  1. Measured 10cm3 of water into the test tube.
  2. Test tube was clamped to the stand at an angle and was placed over a heat-resistant mat.
  3. A small piece of food was weighed using scales.
  4. Temperature of the water in the test tube was measured and recorded.
  5. Food was placed in tongs and ignited over the flame of the Bunsen burner and held approximately 1cm away from the bottom of the test tube.
  6. Once the food had stopped burning, the temperature of the water in the test tube was measured with the thermometer and was recorded once again.
  7. The test tube was emptied and refilled with another 10cm3 of water. The experiment was repeated with all other samples.


Risk or Hazard Risk Level Management
Bunsen burner High Be cautious around open flame. Ensure that the safety flame is used when the Bunsen burner is not needed. Remove all flammable clothing items and don’t lean over workbenches to use equipment.
Food getting into eyes Moderate Wear appropriate safety equipment such as safety glasses and a lab coat.
Food Allergy Low Be mindful about food allergies and stay away from food that may cause a reaction to occur. Check the ingredients panel if unsure.
Test tube breaking Moderate Ensure that the test tube is clamped tightly in place on the stand so that it does not fall and shatter. When placing ignited food underneath the test tube, leave about 1cm between the sample and the water in the test tube. Do not keep food stationary and be aware of how hot the test tube is getting.


Food Sample Observations Mass (food) Temp before (°C) Temp after (°C) Change in Temp (°C) Mass (water) KJ/100g KJ/g Energy on Nutrition Panel (KJ/100g)
Food 1 (Liver) Easy to burn, had a strong smell 10g 22 40 18 10g 752.4 75.24 1090
Food 2 (Biscuit) Easy to burn 33.05g 22 55 33 10g 1379.4 41.59 2000
Food 3 (Dog Food) Had to be relit, hard to burn 8.60g 22 35 13 10g 543.4 63.19 1619
Food 4 (Marshmallow) Burnt very easily and melted into liquid 0.05g 22 28 6 10g 250.8 5016 420


The trend present in this experiment was the higher amount of energy the food contained, the faster the sample would burn. This shows that the experiment was investigating the decomposition of food. The experiment displayed that the longer something burns, the lighter in mass it gets. This is due to the amount of energy within the food that is being released through heat. If a sample took longer to burn, this would show that the amount of energy that makes up the composition of the food was low. This is because energy, once heated, is converted to chemical energy, allowing people to do work. This experiment demonstrates what happens inside of the human body when food is consumed. The food consumed is oxidized or burned as a part of digestion. It this process that converts chemical energy into heat energy, mechanical energy, and electrical energy. Calorimetry such as this experiment helps people to understand the amount of heat energy that is released and absorbed by a human body during digestion.

In this investigation, there were many possible errors that could have affected the end result of the experiment. Systematic errors such as the flame not always being direct, the measuring cylinder not being read properly, the thermometer not calibrating accurately, and the scales not being correctly calibrated during the beginning stages of the experiment. Systematic errors conclude that there were some errors with the setting up, duration, or results of the experiment and that the equipment provided may have not been properly calibrated. These systematic errors are easy to combat, however, if all steps are followed as closely to the method as possible. There were also random errors present in this experiment. Errors such as the food sample not burning and having to be relit, not completing each food sample burning to the end (didn’t reach completion) and parallax error. These random errors are errors that are a result of difficulty with taking the measurements of each food sample. Both random and systematic errors can be reduced by ensuring equipment is calibrated before being used and by performing the experiment multiple times, creating a graph to discover the most appropriate results or by adapting correct experimental technique/posture.

Errors cannot be entirely eliminated as all experiments will contain some form of scientific error due to human impact on the investigation being conducted.

The results collected showed that the marshmallow provides the most amount of energy (5016kj) with the liver treat (75.24kj) coming in second and finally the dog food (63.19) and biscuit (41.59) coming in third and fourth. This shows that food high in fat and oils burn faster and provide more energy than foods high in carbs and protein.


The aim of this experiment was to investigate the amount of energy that can be converted to heat energy and allow people to do work. Through using simple calorimetry methods and practicals it was able to be seen that marshmallows produce the most heat energy and the biscuit provides a person with the least amount of energy. The hypothesis was supported as there was an increase in temperature of the water in the test tube, and the temperature change depended on the amount of fuel (kj) that the food sample provided.

Updated: Jan 10, 2024
Cite this page

Calorimetry Experiment: Assessing the Energy Content of Food Samples. (2024, Jan 10). Retrieved from

Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment