Fats from butter and low-fat margarine

Many people use fat spreads instead of normal butter. How are they different?
For frying in the pan, both kinds of spreads have limited uses, as in stronger heating they begin to spatter, though some more than others. What is the reason? What do they contain besides fat?
To answer these questions, you should perform the following experiment.


1. Cut a sample of butter using the syringe cylinder for piercing and put this into one of the ampoules. Label it accordingly.        (more see below)

2. Heat the butter over the candle flame.

3. Remove the tip of the pipette and fill the butter through the funnel into the pipette. Label it accordingly.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the low-fat margarine.

5. Immerse both pipettes in hot water to liquefy the contents again.


1.     Write down your observations

2.     Try to explain them. Make a guess as to the nature of the substances in the pipette.

3.     According to your observations what is the proportion of fat in the two spreads? Look at the packaging or on the Internet.

4.     Give reasons why the spreads spatter when heated in the frying pan.

5.     Low-fat margarine contains additives called emulsifiers. Find out on the Internet about it. What function does an emulsifier have?

6.     Some spreads are also salted. Where do you suppose these salts are in the pipette? How could you check your assumption experimentally?

First published 2003                                                                      Last modification: 18.07.2014