MadSci Network: Edible/Inedible Experiments Archive

The cat's meow

Area of Science: Chemistry
Meant for at least Grade K-3 (age 5-7).
This experiment is edible.
An adult need not be present.

Oil causes the food coloring to circulate in the milk making swirls of color


Milk (in a glass or single serving carton with the lid cut off)
Food colors
vegetable oil
a table to place the milk on
The milk must not be disturbed for the experiment to work properly.

How to do the experiment:
Put milk in a glass or cut the lid off a carton. 2% or higher fat content works the best. Place one drop of each color of food coloring in each corner of the carton or near the sides of the glass. Place a drop of vegatable oil in the middle. Be careful not to move the glass or to shake the table. After a short time the colors swirl and mix, it looks really cool. Try it with different fat percentages and see how it affects the patterns or the rate of swirling.

This is caused because milk is mostly water and some fat. The oil is only soluble in the fat. The oil creates a current which causes the colors to circulate mix.

Useful References:

Further comments:
Sometimes it takes a little while for this to happen, but it will happen.

Experiment submitted on Fri Apr 18 09:40:12 1997 by:
Name: Charissa Detwiler
Institution: University of California Santa Barbara
Position: Undergraduate Student

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