The Chemistry of SPAM


Spam is a meat, particularly from the shoulder and rear of a pig. This meat is known as the meat in a can. The sodium nitrate that is in it keeps it pink. The sugar and potato starch help keep the juices in tact along with the water and salt (NaCl). Sodium dominates the other mineral which, as a result may cause health problems if large amounts are ingested. The name Spam is actually an iconic brand which has transferred to the actual salted pork, much like the name Band Aid. It was introduced in 1937 by Hormel Foods as lunch meat. In World War II, spam became a core source of food for the soldiers. Over 150 million pounds of Spam was given to the military by the end of the war. The brother of the president of Hormel Foods won a name contest for the meat with the entry, Spam. In today’s society Spam is used in a variety of dishes including salad, sushi, sandwiches, tacos, and even croissants. In 2012 the company reached a milestone by producing their 8 billionth can of spam. The manufacturing process involves four steps. The first is a compression the pork off of the bone. Next they take the meat to a gondola which tests the meat’s quality using metal detectors. The spam is put into giant vacuums that freeze the meat. The substance is then mixed and put into the famous silver can. Eating meats preserved with sodium nitrate can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Composition of ...

    • Salt (NaCl)
    • Protons
    • Neutrons
    • Electrons
    • Lipids
    • Potassium (K)
    • Sugar (C12H22O11)
    • Water (H2O)
    • Potato Starch (C6H10O5)
  • Sodium Nitrate (NaNO3)

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Salt (NaCl)

The mineral that Spam contains the most of is salt. It has 767 mg per serving. This salt specifically is sodium chloride, which is an ionic compound. The proportions of each element are equal in sodium chloride. A mass amount of salt crystals are found in seawater and salt mines. Salt is a basic human taste and is required for animal life. However, tissue of animals contains more salt than plants’. The processing of salt began almost 8,000 years ago. Romanians were boiling saltwater to retrieve the salt crystals. Salt is now used to create caustic soda and chlorine. It is also used to process items such as paper pulp, plastic, and polyvinyl chloride. It is used as a preservative and was used as this before the age of refrigerators. It helps nerves and muscles function properly. It helps regulate fluid balance. However, too much salt can increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.


Water (H2O)

Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen ions. Deionized water contains the same amount of hydrogen and oxygen ions but some of these molecules break apart leaving free ions. Water is essential for all living organisms. It acts as a solvent for chemicals and is known as the universal solvent.

Fats, lipids

Fats are composed of glycerides that may also contain minor amounts of other lipids such as phospholipids, glycolipids, and phosphoinositides. 94%-96% of the weights of fats and oils are responsible for the fatty acids they contain. Glycerides have high percentages of saturated acids which means the melting point becomes lower. Fats are insoluble in water. Fat is a storage of energy and has two times more of it than proteins or carbs.


Proteins are made up of amino acid chains. Hair, bones, tissue, and other organs contain high amounts of protein with low amount of water. Proteins are made in cells and are put in fluids after the synthesis. Enzymes and hormones are proteins. Enzymes are catalysts and play a major part in metabolic function. Enzymes are required for living organisms. Hormones are essential for life as well. The hemoglobin protein carries oxygen in the blood from the lung to other organs. Proteins have secondary, tertiary, quaternary structures.

Chemistry's Role

Salt is mined or obtained by pumping water into the substance. Salt crystals naturally occur when salt water evaporates. Salt is composed of 40% sodium and 60% nitrogen. As they bond sodium loses one electron making it positive. Chloride gains an electron making it a negative ion. The structure of this makes the activity of water in substances reduced. This lowers the microbial growth and chemical reactions. Because of this it is a well chosen preservative.

Water is naturally occurring. It is comprised of two hydrogen ions and one oxygen ion. It creates moisture allowing the food to not dry out for a certain point of time. H2O also is involved in many chemical reactions with other chemicals.

Fats are composed of fatty acid molecules that are attached to a glycerol molecule. Carbon atoms that are covalently bonded to each other. They also have nonpolar bonds to hydrogen atoms with a carboxyl group at the end. Through dehydration synthesis, the carbon atoms bond to the first carbon atoms in the glycerol molecule. This results in a fat molecule with a glycerol head and three fatty acid strands coming from it.

Proteins are made up of amino acids that form long chains. There are about 20 common amino acids that are found in proteins. Chemical ligation is used to produce peptides. Chemical synthesis is used to put non-natural amino acids in a polypeptide chain. This is done in a laboratory. Protein is used to repair tissue for the body. They also play a part in creating enzymes.


On this website I found

    • What spam is made of (Ingredients)
    • When it was created
    • How it was named
    • Different dishes made from spam
    • How popular Spam is in today’s society (How many cans were produced)

    • Nutrition information
    • Calories, Vitamins, Minerals

    • Amount of consumption in different countries
    • Celebrations of Spam

    • Shows the manufacturing process

    • History of spam
    • Spam in ww II
    • Spam before it was popular

    • The connection between sodium nitrate and cancer

    • The history, uses, and production of salt.

    • The composition of meats

    • The composition of ions in water

    • The physical composition of water
    • The effects water has on the world
    • The cycles of water

    • The characteristics of fats
    • The influence in organisms

    • The structure of proteins and amino acids

    • Atomic structure of salt

    • The preservation of salt
    • How salt affects microbial growth

    • Composition of fat

    • Chemical synthesis of protein

About the Author

Josh Greer is a junior at Senior High School. He lettered three times in soccer and would like to take his career in it as far as possible. He wishes to attend college out of state and study pre-dentistry. Throughout high school he has had a 4.0 GPA. Activities he enjoys outside of soccer are hiking, eating, and rollerblading.