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Polymer Permeability: Which Plastic Wrap Prevents Oxidation Best?

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Areas of Science
Time Required
Short (2-5 days)
Material Availability
The two types of plastic wraps may need to be specially ordered. Various PVC wraps are available through Amazon.com. A selection of LDPE wraps are also available through Amazon.com.
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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There are currently two different kinds of polymers used for kitchen plastic wrap: low density polyethylene (LDPE) (e.g. Saran or Glad Wrap) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (e.g. Reynolds PVC Foodservice Wrap or Boardwalk PVC Food Wrap Film). Which of these materials is less permeable to oxygen? When you slice an apple, the surface of the slice turns brown as the apple is oxidized. Can plastic wrap seal out oxygen and prevent the apple from browning? Which plastic wrap works best? Do background research on the different polymer types used for plastic wraps in order to develop a hypothesis. Use samples of each type of plastic wrap to cover three apple slices for each wrap. Cut the wraps with a pair of scissors so you do not stretch the material. Prepare your wraps in advance so that you can wrap each slice right after it is cut, since oxidation starts immediately. Be sure to keep three slices unwrapped as controls for comparison. Compare the slices at regular intervals and note your results. For more ideas on how to do the actual experiment, see the Science Buddies' science project idea Yuck, What Happened to My Apple? How Food Wrappings Affect Spoilage. Also, you may want to take pictures to use for your Science Fair Project Display Board. Do you think you would get the same results at a different temperature? How about if the slices were on saucers covered with plastic wrap? Does stretching the plastic make any difference? Can you think of other ways you might test oxygen permeability of plastic wraps? (Goodstein, 2004, 65-69)


Goodstein, M., 2004. Plastics and Polymers Science Fair Projects: Using Hair Gel, Soda Bottles, and Slimy Stuff. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.
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MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Polymer Permeability: Which Plastic Wrap Prevents Oxidation Best?" Science Buddies, 10 Oct. 2019, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p033/materials-science/which-plastic-wrap-prevents-oxidation-best. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2019, October 10). Polymer Permeability: Which Plastic Wrap Prevents Oxidation Best? Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p033/materials-science/which-plastic-wrap-prevents-oxidation-best

Last edit date: 2019-10-10
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