This plastic tastes like cheese

Casein is the main protein in cows milk. It precipitates rapidly when vinegar is added to warm milk. The precipitated casein and other milk solids can be filtered, shaped and dried into a hard plastic like material frequently referred to as milk plastic.

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Equipment & ingredients

Both full cream milk and low fat milk contain casein and give a good yield of product. The casein obtained from full cream milk gives a more pliable, less crumbly material, presumably due to the higher fat content. However, the solid also exudes more oily liquid during the drying stage.

We used the following recipe:
1. Heat 300ml milk to 65 C.
2. Add 20ml of white vinegar and stir.
3. Allow the precipitated casein to cool a little before filtering through a sieve.
4. Press the filtered solid between several layers of paper towel.
5. Mould the solid into the desired shape and dry in a low temperature oven or on a warm shelf near to a radiator.

Making milk plastic

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Heat the milk to 65 C

Add vinegar and stir to precipitate out the casein and other milk solids.

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Precipitating the casein

A closer look:

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Lower the pH to precipitate the casein micelles

Cottage cheese anyone?

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How do we get the cheese out?

Filter it through a sieve

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Separating the milk solids from the whey

Press out the excess fluid before drying

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Press between layers of paper towel

What shape will you make?

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Peace dove or bunny ears?

You can add food dye to colour the milk during the heating stage

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This season it’s orange

The drying stage takes several days or even weeks, until a very hard plastic-like material is produced.

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Drying time, days to weeks

Hey presto! Milk plastic.

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Milk plastic or dried cheese?

It’s too hard to eat, but it may still go mouldy under the right conditions.

Movies for the precipitation, filtration and shaping are on You Tube.

More information on making milk plastic and cottage cheese.

Finally, on the chemical reaction in the baking powder submarine last time

The baking powder used in the toy submarine last time contained two active ingredients, disodium diphosphate and sodium bicarbonate. These two chemicals react to produce carbon dioxide which was released as bubbles that caused the submarine to rise.

Na2H2P2O7 + 2NaHCO3 → Na4P2O7 + 2H2O + 2CO2

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The slow release of carbon dioxide is what allows the submarine to rise and dive

This reaction tends to release carbon dioxide at a slower rate than the sodium bicarbonate reacting with an acid like vinegar.

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