Is it Possible to Make Diamonds from Coal and Peanut Butter?
You can’t turn charcoal or coal and peanut butter into a crystal at home by heating the charcoal or coal and putting it in peanut butter and ice. However, scientists can turn many carbon-rich substances into crystal in a lab.
In other words, the videos online that shows coal and peanut butter turning into crystals after being set in ice are all fake.
None of these people actually put coal (or charcoal) into peanut butter and pulled out a crystal (or diamond). It doesn’t matter if you freeze it, or how much you heat the coal. These videos are simply attempts to get you to click on them so they could wrack up views (i.e., they are clickbait).
With that said, scientists can actually turn many things with carbon into crystal (including coal, charcoal, and peanut butter), but they have to do it in expensive labs, under specific conditions, over a long duration of time, and even then they only get tiny crystals out of it (for “how to make diamonds out of peanut butter,” see: “How to make a diamond from scratch – with peanut butter.”)
Not only that, but just in case science was wrong and those videos online were right, we tried this experiment… and, on that note, we can confirm all we got is a lump of coal / charcoal covered in peanut butter. Just like you would expect.
In other words, that Blossom video that shows “10 Tricks You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your Food“… is not real (I’ll feature a video below showing the clip from Blossom so we are crystal clear on what I’m referring to).
Also, Blossom (and especially the YouTubers who pretend to do this in a microwave) should issue a warning, because lighting charcoal in your house is actually dangerous and could result in… literally death (at least according to the warning label on charcoal).
Is it possible to make Diamonds from Coal and Peanut Butter?
Where Did the peanut butter / coal /diamond myth come from? In 2014 a German Geologist named Dan Frost was challenged by the BBC’s Future to make crystals out of peanut butter. He did! However, he did it in his lab. After BBC future published this back in 2014 the story went viral with substantially all articles leaving out the part about Dan doing this under very specific conditions in his lab (example, Gizmodo’s How To Make Diamonds Out Of Peanut Butter). The point Dan was trying to make was about heat, pressure, and carbon creating crystals in the earth’s mantle (see the quote below). Fast forward to 2018, and a misrepresentation of this story went viral claiming that you could make diamonds at home from coal (or charcoal) and peanut butter. To really understand the story, and the mechanics behind why peanut butter can be used to create crystals in general, see the original article from BBC Future “How to make a diamond from scratch – with peanut butter” (I’ve included an excerpt below).
The high pressures of the mantle force carbon dioxide from the rocks into the iron-rich minerals, which strip away oxygen, leaving the carbon to form a diamond. And that is exactly what Frost found when he recreated the process using his presses – essentially forging a diamond from thin air. Frost is hardly likely to make a fortune from his harvest; the diamonds take an agonisingly long time to grow. “If we wanted a two-or-three-millimetre diamond, we would need to leave it for weeks,” he says. That hasn’t stopped him experimenting with other sources for his diamond maker, however; at the behest of a German TV station, he attempted to create some diamonds from carbon-rich peanut butter. “A lot of hydrogen was released that destroyed the experiment,” he says, “but only after it had been converted to diamond.
– From BBC Future 2014
Does it matter if you use coal or charcoal? It doesn’t matter what substance you use or how carbon rich, you can’t turn coal and peanut butter into diamonds at home. That said, coal and charcoal are different substances. Quora explains it well, “Coal is the mineral anthracite, a fossil fuel composed of carbon and created over millions of years by the pressurizing and long term breakdown of of organic materials like plant remains. Charcoal is produced by slow heating of wood or other combustible substances in the absence of oxygen.”
Can I turn coal and peanut butter into crystals in the microwave? Microwaving these things in a plastic container is a really bad idea, especially if you do it indoors where you might breath in the resulting smoke, carbon dioxide, and toxic chemicals. There is no truth to the peanut butter coal myth, so definitely don’t do the microwave version. So again, to be clear, it is literally impossible and actually highly dangerous to make diamonds at home using a piece of coal, peanut butter and a microwave.
Turning Coal into Diamonds, using Peanut Butter
Is there any real way to make crystals? Yes, there are a few fun ways to make crystals at home. However, none of them involve peanut butter. Here are a list of ways to actually make actual crystals at home without destroying your microwave or endangering your family.
Bottomline: Anything with carbon can be turned into a crystal under the right conditions, so you did learn something from those viral videos (FACT: coal, charcoal, and peanut butter are all carbon rich and can be turned into crystals… under the right conditions, in a lab). However, you can’t do this at home, and burning charcoal inside is dangerous. Thus, you are more likely to injure yourself or your family playing with hot charcoal inside than you are to make a crystal (low chance of injury; zero chance of making a crystal).