Water hides itself really well. Its molecules can form weak chemical bonds with many substances, allowing it to remain concealed within their crystal structures. There's no sign of water's presence—no dampness, no softness, no anything—until something triggers its release.
Quite a few rocks and minerals contain water, but you would never know it from looking at them. Turquoise, for example, is made up of copper and aluminum phosphates. Remarkably, for every copper atom in turquoise, there are four water molecules. Heat it enough and this water can be driven out, discoloring the stone.
The difference between water merely soaked into a material, such as cloth, and water that is chemically bound lies in how finely separated a material's molecules are. At the atomic level, a damp cloth contains pockets of trillions of water molecules held in place by fibers. But in turquoise, those molecules are distributed evenly around the phosphate units, individually bonded to the copper or aluminum atoms. Dioptase, a copper silicate with green crystals, similarly has water bonded to it, as does the mineral apophyllite, which flakes apart when heat releases its water.
I was recently introduced to a culinary curiosity that this phenomenon might explain: shrimp chips (also known by the Indonesian name krupuk). This snack starts out as solid, dry disks made from rice or cassava flour that look, feel, and taste like hard plastic. When my girlfriend first showed them to me, I assumed they were another one of the inedible healthy foods she routinely tries to get me to eat. But nothing could be further from the truth!
When I dropped the disks into hot oil, they puffed up to 10 times their size. The heat may have freed the chips' hidden water molecules and turned them instantly to steam. In one form or another, the water was there all along—waiting to turn dry starch into a deliciously unhealthy deep-fried indulgence.
Warning: Hot oil can burn you and easily catch fire. We used a glass container for photographic purposes only: This is not a safe way to deep-fry.
"...The heat may have freed the chips’ hidden water molecules and turned them instantly to steam. In one form or another, the water was there all along—waiting to turn dry starch into a deliciously unhealthy deep-fried indulgence..."
If the water were turned to steam instantanously, then the internal pressure of said steam should have pushed the hydorphobic oil away from the starch. Besides the eating of too much starch why would the food be unhealthy? Deep frying as a cooking method, IMO, has been getting a bad rap!
When using shrimp chips that actually contains* shrimp there is a way to cook them that is both tastier and almost fat free. Use your microwave oven. It takes a bit of experimenting at first. The microwaves are not evenly distributed in the oven, that's why there is a turntable. We are looking at cookingtimes that can drop below a full turn.
Distribute the chips evenly on the bare turntable allowing some growing space. Give it a go at full power for about 40sec. Keep looking and stop as soon as you see a popped chips getting a tiny bitsy brown. The colouring continues for a few seconds when the oven is turned of! If non popped in 40sec add another 20sec.
Do to many turn dark, try at a lover power.
Take note of the time it took, and the places where the fully popped and nice coloured chips are. Fore some ovens it's in the middle of the turntable, for others it is a ring along the outside. Use that time and distribution in future shrimpchip production.
What you get is a chip almost fat free** with the full flavour. Now YOU can get your girlfriend to eat a inedible healthy chip!
*Most of the shrimp chips contains shrimp in a quantity you can not even taste it.
**Fried chips suck the boiling-fat like a sponge. Compare fried and nuked chips by placing it between two sheets of newspaper and apply pressure for half an hour or so.
Hurray for my spelchecker! inedible = incredible