The Science Behind Mummies

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October is the perfect time for your little goblins to explore some spooky science! With just an apple and some salt, you can create scary apple mummies and uncover some cool science, too!

Mummy History

Egyptians, around 3400 BC, followed a special “recipe” to preserve dead bodies. They discovered that if they removed the brain and internal organs and added salt, the body could survive thousands of years!  This preserved body is called a mummy.

The key ingredient to mummifying is salt! Early civilizations used salt as a preservative. Since there were no freezers or refrigerators, salt was a great way to preserve meat, fruit and vegetables. Salt is a desiccant, meaning it absorbs water from these foods and inhibits the growth of bacteria and mold. In Egypt, mummies were prepared using natron, a naturally occurring mineral mixture that includes sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium chloride (salt), and decahydrate (soda ash).

The Egyptians dried mummies in natron for 40 days. Once the body was dry, they would use lotions on the skin to preserve it and then add layers and layers of cloth or linen. Once the body was all wrapped up, it was covered in a sheet called a shroud and placed in a sarcophagus or stone coffin.

Create Your Own Apple Mummy – A Science Experiment

You can explore how things are preserved and create your own Apple Mummy with this interesting investigation that requires only apples, salt, and baking soda!

Download our free resource, Create Your Own Apple Mummy!, for step-by-step instructions and extension activities, too.

Awesome Mummy Facts!

Animals were also mummified, too. Almost every animal that roamed Ancient Egypt has been found as a mummy, from birds to cats to fish! There are cemeteries in Egypt dedicated just to animal mummies.

Scientists can use tools like x-rays and CT scans to be able to look inside mummies without having to unwrap them. to reveal interesting information about their health.

Anyone could be mummified, not just pharaohs, as long as they could afford the process.

Mummifying is so effective at preserving, that scientists can get a pretty good idea of what a mummy looked like alive from 3000 years ago!

Mummies have been used to calibrate CT scan machines for uses in hospitals at radiation levels that would be too harmful for humans.

Party Like a Scientist

If your young scientist at home enjoys hands-on explorations, consider booking a STEM-themed birthday party! Our birthday party program brings the excitement of STEM exploration to kids at home and can be delivered anywhere in Canada. Mini Science Bags are sent ahead for each participant, too. There are several themes to choose from, from investigating the science of snot to designing roller coasters!

Invite a Scientist to Your Child’s Classroom

Consider supporting education in the classroom. Let your child’s teacher know about our hands-on curriculum-aligned programming that is designed to spark curiosity and get kids excited about the world around them. We offer online workshops across the country and onsite workshops in select areas. Find out how it works here, STEM Workshops for Classrooms.

We are a leading Canadian STEM education charity and the majority of our dynamic presenters have academic or professional backgrounds in STEM.

You can also invite us to your upcoming Parent Council Meeting. We would be happy to share the wonders of our program with educators and parents. Email us to find out more information, at

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