I’m sure everyone has gone through the same pain in their life. You’ve been craving eggs ever since you went to bed the night before, so you wake up and run to the kitchen for some gooey yolk goodness. The only problem, your housemate got up a half an hour before you and boiled all of your eggs!
After you teach your incompetent housemate a lesson and dispose of the evidence, you’re still stuck with some hard boiled eggs. What a waste of perfectly good eggs, too bad there’s no way you can unboil them and fry them up to perfection… right?
Actually you can. UC Irvine and Australian chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites, according to findings published in the journal ChemBioChem. “Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,” said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry. In his paper, he describes a machine that takes apart tangled protiens and allows them to refold back to their natural ways. The device can pull apart the proteins in egg whites and let them refold into their oily natural state.
“To re-create a clear protein known as lysozyme once an egg has been boiled, he and his colleagues add a urea substance that chews away at the whites, liquefying the solid material. That’s half the process; at the molecular level, protein bits are still balled up into unusable masses. The scientists then employ a vortex fluid device, a high-powered machine designed by Professor Colin Raston’s laboratory at South Australia’s Flinders University. Shear stress within thin, microfluidic films is applied to those tiny pieces, forcing them back into untangled, proper form.”
But this process isn’t just used for breakfast time, the machine can also be used to return valuable molecular proteins back into their original state. Proteins that are used in research for things such as cancer, antibiotics and creating cheese will be used and wasted because they turn into a hard or solidified state. There is a current process to turn the proteins back into their original state, but it takes about four days. This new process only takes minutes, which allows the users to recycle more of the proteins which in turn means less money is used.
The process of unboiling an egg has actually been known for years, but the man who first started talking about it was not a scientist (well not a traditional one). French chef Herve This (pronounced ‘Tiss’) mentioned how the proteins in boiled eggs can be unraveled and returned to their natural state by adding sodium borohydride and in about three hours your egg will be liquid again. If you don’t have some spare sodium borohydride laying around you can also use vitamin C. This has also come up with some other crazy calculations, like a way you can get 24 litres of mayonnaise out of one egg yolk. He also busted the myth of adding oil to your spaghetti noodles to keep them from sticking, according to This in order for oil to keep your noodles from sticking you’d have to use very little water and litres of oil.
Have you ever tried to unboil an egg? Let me know in the comments!
Sources: Wilson, Janet. “Chemists Find a Way to Unboil Eggs.” Chemists Find a Way to Unboil Eggs. N.p., 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.
Bernbaum, Brian. “How To Unboil An Egg, Seriously.” SF Weekly. N.p., 15 Feb. 2008. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.