Make a Mummy for Halloween

October is perfect for learning how to make a mummy and discovering the mummification process.

You need about four weeks to mummify a hot dog or a chicken. Yep, it goes that fast! In fact, in ancient Egypt, the mummification process took about 40 days, for a full grown adult! Since we're dealing with much smaller items they mummify much faster. 

Unlike the Egyptians, who used about 500lbs of a Natron mix per mummy, we will only use about 2-3 lbs of salt for each hot dog mummy we make. If you want to make a bigger mummy, plan on about 10lbs of salt for a cornish hen mummy.

This Halloween activity is a long-term activity, and it can't be sped up to meet a deadline. So plan ahead and know that each week you'll need about 20 minutes to weight, and change the natron mix of your mummy. You can keep the learning going through a variety of osmosis experiments we have listed below as well as by engineering a sarcophagus for your new family member.

How to make a mummy with a hot dog

  1. Make a Natron mix (see below)
  2. Weight your hot dog
  3. Place your hot dog in a snack bag ziplock and cover in Natron mix
  4. Wait for 1 week
  5. Repeat three times
  6. Wrap your mummy
discover how to make a mummy as we learn the role of osmosis in the mummification process
mummification process - making natron at home
how to make a mummy - mummification of a chicken
how to make a mummy - hot dog mummification activity for kids
make a mummy to learn mummification - name your mummy

How to make a mummy (out of a hot dog or chicken)

1. Make a Natron mix

Natron is a mineral salt from dry seabeds. In fact, Natron gets its name from the Natron valley in northern Egypt and is a natural mix of sodium bicarbonate and sea salt. We can mimic the natron used to make ancient mummies in our own mummification process by mixing 4 parts salt with 1 part baking soda. The mummification process takes about 3 changes of the natron mix, so you can mix a big batch, in the beginning, to use for the next month or you can mix single batches each week.

2. Weigh your hot dog

A huge part of the fun of making your own hot dog mummy is watching the process of mummification unfold before your eyes. If you weigh your hot dog mummy each time you change the natron you can start to see how much water is being absorbed by the salt each week. This allows you to get some graphing practice in if you desire, or just use it as a touchpoint to talk about the rate of drying. For example, would you expect the mummy to lose the most water in the first or last week of mummification? You can form a hypothesis and then test it!

3. Begin the mummification process

Put your weighed hot dog into a clean snack bag sized ziplock. Cover it with a generous amount of your natron mix and seal the ziplock. 

4. Wait for a week

Mummification is a very slow process. This is because mummies dry through osmosis, where the water seeks to even out the concentration of salt inside the hot dog and outside. Osmosis is also slow. It takes time for the water molecules to migrate from inside the hot dog to outside in the salt. Even our gummy bear osmosis experiment, which happens relatively quickly, takes an afternoon to see the results!

5. Repeat three times

Like I mentioned earlier, the process of mummification takes a long time. To mummify our hot dog we will need about three to four weeks. Each week you should repeat the process of weighing your hot dog mummy, putting it in a clean ziplock, and covering it in a natron mix. When you weigh your hot dog mummy you should make sure to get as much salt as you can off the hot dog, making sure you weight the hot dog and not the hot dog plus a lot of salt mix.

6.  Wrap your mummy

The last part of the mummification process is wrapping your mummy. You can find gauze at the grocery store, or create your own linens for wrapping. As you wrap your mummy you can think about what you will name your mummy, figure out how to write it in hieroglyphics, and even make a sarcophagus to store your new mummy. 

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