How long does it take to bend a bone?

Once a month, I give a nutrition presentation for our church’s children’s group “Rock Solid Kids.”

I’ve presented on the food groups–talking about variety and balance. I’ve presented on grains–and how half the grains should be whole. I’ve presented on fruits and vegetables–and how we should eat all the colors of the rainbow.

This Wednesday, I’ll talk about dairy.

Which means it’s time to talk bones.

For the sake of the kids (and certainly not for my own sake :-P), I purchased two fried chicken drumsticks from SuperSaver to eat for dinner tonight. I carefully ate every scrap of meat off the bones (such sacrifice!) and painstakingly removed all the excess cartilage from the joints.

I placed one bone on my stovetop to dry–and the other, I placed in a saucepan full of vinegar.

Bone in vinegar

Do you remember that experiment? Didn’t you do it when you were in elementary school? You soak a bone in vinegar until the calcium leaches out, leaving a soft, rubbery, bendable bone.

It’s been a long time since I did that experiment–and I can’t remember how long it takes to bend a bone. That’s why I’m heating the vinegar–I figured that’d make the reaction go more rapidly.

But still, I’m impatient. After three hours on the stove, surely my bone should be bendable, right?

But it’s not. Which leaves me with a dilemma. Do I leave the bone on the stove? Do I transfer it into a crockpot? Do I take it off the stove and leave it in a covered jar and trust that it’ll bend by Wednesday? I don’t know.

How long does it take to bend a bone?

4 thoughts on “How long does it take to bend a bone?”

  1. I was wondering what the bone was doing on the stove… (=
    I’ve never, ever done that experiment. Have fun with the kiddos tonight! I hope things go well and you get/got the bone to bend. ;-)

  2. Never done the experiment, but I have put my chicken carcasses in the crockpot with water and a little vinegar when I make stock. After about 20 hours the bones crumble when pressed. I haven’t tried to bend them, though. :)

    Are you using straight vinegar for this experiment? This looks like something I’d like to show Will. :)

  3. I have been using straight vinegar. The bone seems to be leaching calcium from the ends inward. It bent well enough on the ends for the kids to get the picture last night–but I’m still soaking it some more. I think Nancy’s three days is probably a pretty good estimate of how long it takes to completely de-calcify a chicken bone.

    Interesting note, there was a homeschool mom there last night who asked if I was planning on keeping my intact bone. She had been planning on doing the same experiment with her young son but hadn’t cooked chicken for quite a while, and therefore didn’t have a bone to use for it. I was pleased to give her my bone!


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