gelatin

... a natural polymer substance that you use
every day!


What is gelatin used for?
Exactly what IS gelatin anyway?
Basically it's a protein substance obtained by boiling animal bones and connective tissue. (Hey, you asked!) But where does the raw material for gelatin come from??? You guessed it! The meat industry where all that's left but the moo is converted to gelatin. The end result is a pale yellow, dry powder. The powder is about 85% protein, 13% water, and 2% mineral salts, free of additives and preservatives. Gelatin contains about 18 different amino acids joined together in a chain. Eventually a polymer in the shape of a triple helix (or triple spiral) is the complex form that gives gelatin its unique ability to, well, "gel" things.
Here's a question for you:
What's the main polymer in gelatin?
(Hint: see the page on proteins.) Click here for the answer.

History of this great natural polymer:
Activities Using Gelatin


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This page and activities were written by: Polymer Ambassadors Wayne Goates (Kansas), Mary Harris (Missouri), and Gina Watkiss (Georgia); and creative consultant Dr. Patricia DePra. Graphics by Virginia Smith.