Filed Under:

Summer Science: The Perfectly Toasted Marshmallow

Play associated audio

It's the epic quest of campers everywhere: How do you get the perfectly toasted marshmallow? In our inaugural installment of NPR's Summer Science series, we gave some guidance on the first key ingredient: how to build the campfire. (Later this summer, we'll attempt to answer the vexing question of how to stave off brain freeze.)

For the marshmallow-toasting tips, science correspondent Joe Palca again turned to Daniel Madryzkowski, a fire protection engineer from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Madryzkowski explains that there are two kinds of heat coming from the fire — the hot gases coming off the fire as flame (that's convective heat) and the radiant heat coming from the hot coals.

"You want to stay a little to the side of the flames, and also over an area where you see glowing coals," Madrzykowski says. The reason: It's hard to stay in the sweet spot of the dancing flames. "If you want to get it nice and toasted, you typically rely on radiant energy."

But even with Madryzkowski's supervision and pro tips, Joe still managed to torch his marshmallow. That led him to another crucial question: Why do they burn so well?

To find out, and to hear more from their camping adventure, click on the audio link above.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Villainous Scheme Makes Dozens A Few Minutes Late

A 40-foot inflatable "minion" — the yellow, unintelligible sidekicks from the Despicable Me movies who recently were given their own spinoff — broke loose and blocked traffic in Dublin this week.
WAMU 88.5

The Surprising Roots of Barbecue

We speak with culinary historian Michael Twitty about the roots of familiar southern dishes in African and Native American food traditions.

WAMU 88.5

President Obama's Iran Speech

Veteran journalist Marvin Kalb joins us to discuss the parallels between JFK's nuclear disarmament speech fifty years ago and President Obama's speech on the nuclear deal with Iran.

WAMU 88.5

The Future Of D.C. Taxis: Ernest Chrappah Discusses Competition And Change

The new chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission wants to make it a nimble, innovating agency. He discussed those goals and the related challenges with WAMU 88.5's Martin Di Caro.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.