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Make a "Mummy"

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    The Exploratorium

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Make a "Mummy"

The Ancient Egyptians used a naturally-occurring salt from the banks of the Nile River, called natron, to mummify their dead. Natron is made up primarily of sodium carbonate (a very efficient, but relatively expensive, dehydrating material), with about 17% sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). This activity explains how to create your own fish mummy using common baking soda!

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • a fresh "dressed" fish (scaled and gutted)
  • a plastic container serveral inches longer, wider and deeper than the fish
  • a large box or two of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • a small scale, like a postage scale (optional)


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Food and Cooking
  • Historical Reenactment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • smell
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kalamuck, Karen


  • All Rights Reserved, The Exploratorium, ©2000


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