Color Mix-Up

Try a colorful density experiment with oil, water, and food coloring. You can create fluid interactions using liquids of various densities.

What you will need:

  • Several small, clear plastic bottles with caps (remove labels)
  • A bottle a vegetable oil and/or baby oil (mineral oil)
  • A bottle of 70% and/or 90% rubbing alcohol
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Optional: Flashlight, funnel, light corn syrup, dish soap

Here’s what to do:

Fill a clear, plastic bottle partway with either water or rubbing alcohol (a funnel may help), and add a dew drops of food coloring. Then, add some of one of the oils and cap the bottle.

color

Take it further:

  • What do you notice when you gently turn the bottle upside down, and then right side up again?
  • What happens to the liquids when you vigorously shake the bottle?
  • How long does it take for the liquids to mix or separate? A flashlight might help to observe bubble details.
  • As your’re concocting bottles with different combinations of liquids, do you notice differences between how water or rubbing alcohol interacts with either oil?
  • Does it matter if you use 70% or 90% rubbing alcohol?
  • Do the vegetable oil and baby oil behave similarly? Do some combinations yield smaller oil droplets after shaking?
  • What do these fluid mixtures remind you of?
  • What happens if you try light corn syrup, or dish soap?
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