Warming Up!

based on 9 ratings
Author: Anton U.



The purpose of this experiment is to see how a high or low heat capacity will affect a material's heat retention qualities if the material was to be used as a warmer. The hypothesis was that a higher heat capacity would mean better heat retention and that the stone would have the highest of both. The experiment was conducted in two phases. Phase one was determining heat capacity through heating each material, obtaining certain parameters, and plugging them into a formula. Phase two was observing heat retention by heating each item to 343.15 Kelvins (70°C) and then taking temperature readings as it cooled down. The results showed that the baking soda had the highest heat capacity (the stone had the 2nd highest) and that the stone had the 3rd best heat retention. For most of the items, a higher heat capacity did mean better heat retention. Therefore, while my prediction for the stone was not entirely correct, the overall results of this experiment supported the rest of my hypothesis.


Physical Science


8th grade


Medium - Hard


Approximately $40

Safety Issues
  • There will be electricity used so an adult will be on hand to supervise at all times
  • The stovetop will be very hot so tongs will be used to set the pans with the test materials down on the stove while wearing heat resistant gloves and clothing. An adult will be on hand to supervise and assist.
  • The test materials will be very hot even after initial heating so heat-resistant gloves and clothing will be worn while taking readings. An adult will be on hand to supervise and assist.
  • The liquid test materials will boil and may sputter so goggles, heat resistant gloves, and heat-resistant clothing will be worn while interacting with the test materials. An adult will be on hand to supervise and assist.
  • Flammable objects may ignite if hot materials are placed near or on them so all flammable objects will be removed from the vicinity of the experiment. A smoke detector has been checked and is operational. An adult will be on hand to supervise and assist.


The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether a correlation between heat capacity and heat retention is present and to identify a material that would have the highest of both qualities if it was to be used as a warmer.


For this experiment, one would need the following materials, at a grocery or department store. For the sand and stone, it is advisable to visit a park or beach to find them. All of the materials are readily available.

  • 200 grams of water
  • 200 grams of vegetable / cooking oil
  • 50 grams of salt
  • 50 grams of sand
  • 50 grams of baking soda
  • 50 grams of small gravel
  • A stone weighing approximately 50 grams
  • 2 tablespoons of black ink or food coloring
  • 7 muffin tins - Electric range
  • Infrared Thermometer
  • Safety goggles
  • Heat resistant gloves and clothing
  • Kitchen scale capable of measuring small quantities
  • 1 timer
  • 1 stopwatch
  • Permanent Marker
  • 18 labels
  • 1 hot plate stand
  • Tongs
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