How to Build a Calorimeter | About Health
Calorimeters are used to measure potential energy. A calorie is the energy it takes to heat 1 mL of water 1 degree Celsius. These calories are not the same as those used to refer to food on nutrition labels, dietary plans, etc., which are known as Calories or Kcal (1000 normal calories). With some simple, everyday materials, you can construct a homemade calorimeter to determine either the calories or Kcal of a sample of food.
1. Get a small metal can.
This can will be used to contain water that will be heated as part of the calorimetric measurements. Any small metal can will work, such as those used to package vegetables, or a soda can.
Make sure that it is empty, clean, and open on one end. If you are using a soda can, the opening used for drinking out of the can will suffice.
2. Fill the small can with water.
Using a graduated cylinder, flask, or other container, pour 100 mL of distilled water in the small metal can.
3. Measure the temperature of the water.
Using a mercury thermometer (not a digital one), take the initial temperature of your water. You may need to leave the thermometer in the water for some time so that it can get an accurate reading of the water (which may change temperature as it adjusts to room temperature).
Leave the thermometer in the water; you will need it to take another reading later.
4. Unfold a paperclip and insert one end into a cork.
A standard-size paperclip will be used to hold the food inside the calorimeter. Completely unfold the paperclip so that it forms a single long strand. Insert one end of the strand into the cork. Make sure it can stand upright with the unfolded paperclip sticking up.