What is a peanut shell made of?

My daughter decided to see if a peanut sheel would dissolve or fall apart over a couple of weeks if it was placed in (1) water or (2) vinegar. Pretty much nothing happened, but we're trying to understand why (in a fairly simple way--she's only 6, and I'm not a scientist).

She also used pecans, and it surprised no one that those shells did not break down in a couple of weeks. After all, they seem much harder and less crackly than peanut shells. Any scientific explanations for that one would be good too.

Thanks for your explanations. And your time.

6 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Peanut shell are very woody they contain celllulose and lignin just like a tree's wood does. The numbers are repoted in a lignin to cellulose ratio 79/100 for a peanut shell. To let you compare the California Sequoia tree is 70/100 and an Oak tree is 62/100.

    This means a peanut shell will chemically act like wood shavings.

    You can explain the cellulose as the skeleton of a tree or the peanut's pod. Plants have cell walls to give them a shape so they can stand up just like we have bones.

    Explain to her cellulose is in cotton & paper as well as a tree's wood or a nut hull but in very fine strands rather than an interconnected solid.

    Paper is made by taking wood and shredding it then chemically bleaching it to release the fine cellulose from the structure the tree made with it. But other materials can be used that also contain cellulose.

    http://www.tutorials.com/06/0697/0697.asp

    http://www.hethert.org/papyrus.html

    http://42explore.com/papermaking.htm

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  • Ewa
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    A peanut shell and a pecan shell are very much like wood. Technically, they are made of the same stuff (lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose). In simple terms, wood does not readily go into any solution, so nature uses weather (erosion), germs, and termite saliva to break it down. Technically, the microbes and termite saliva have an enzyme, cellulase, which can cut the cellulose into smaller pieces. On the other hand, consider cotton clothes (also mostly cellulose). Clothes do not dissolve in water or vinegar either. However, as we all know bleach will eat a hole in cotton. Bleach is a fairly strong base, Drano is an even stronger base. If you have some extra time, consider 3) Household Bleach. The chemistry is a bit much for someone six, but success with bleach may brighten/whiten her smile! Note the shells will not actually dissolve like salt dissolves in water; there is a chemical reaction that will break down the cellulose. Also, I am not sure how long it will take, but you should see results after a few hours. Also, DO NOT MIX the vinegar and bleach as it will make a toxic gas (chlorine).

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  • mejxu
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You could tell your little daughter, that the shell of peanut or pecan for the seed it contains is a bit similar in material to the (wooden) kitchen cabinet for the bread. This furniture can be cleaned with water and some vinegar but not dissolved or broken down.

    You can show her that the pecan shell is hard like the kabinet, the peanut shell fragile like a dried branchlet, but both are wood.

    The scientific explanation ( percentage of cellulose/lignin e.g. ) you find in gardengallivants perfect answer.

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  • 5 years ago

    Is it okay to have a pesticide using peanut hulls?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    sorry, i cant find anything on it, but since it is the same concept as a seed, the outer layer of the pod is how it stores the nutrients it needs to grow. it might rot over time in water, but it shouldnt decompose until the seedling has used up the nutrients as it grows.

    wow, smart kid to be doing this at such a young age!

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    wow ur daughter is only 6 and going in science might become a scientist when she grows hope i can help sorry

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