This color changing milk experiment was mesmerizing! I wasn’t expecting it to be this beautiful, but the way the colours danced and mixed together was really amazing! And best of all, this experiment is simple enough that my 3 year old and my 5 year old could easily complete it without any help from me. (Which makes them SUPER happy!)
You can see in the video below exactly how easy the whole thing is! The swirls kept going and going after the reaction. It was really neat to see!
All of the materials you need are probably already in your kitchen. Which makes this a great activity to pull out when you want to “wow” your kids.
- a pie plate, or other round shallow dish
- food colouring
- dish soap
Pour enough milk into the pie plate so that it just covers the bottom. I poured the milk into a smaller jug so the kids could easily pour it. It also meant I got to control how much milk went in just in case they decided to empty whole container of milk.
Add drops of liquid food colouring into the milk.
The food colouring will all mix up during the reaction, so be careful not to overdo it:
Dip the end of a q-tip into some dish soap:
Stick the q-tip into the middle of the milk and watch the reaction:
It really was incredible! Once the reaction started, the colours just kept on mixing, like a psychedelic disco ball. And when it was all done, you were left with some pretty cool art work. I’m sure we could have done something with these beautiful images, but my girls were too excited to keep mixing it all up, so inevitably we just ended up with a brown mixture of milk at the end.
It worked when the q-tips weren’t in the middle of the plate too. Which of course was great, since the girls didn’t want to take turns!
The Science Behind It
Of course, there’s a good scientific explanation for this reaction! (Although admittedly, I’m not the best person to explain it!)
It’s similar to what happens when dish soap breaks down the fat in a sink full of greasy dishes. In simple terms, the soap breaks apart the molecules of fats and proteins in the milk. The molecules of fat are left vulnerable to the soap molecules and they dance around as the soap chases the fat molecules trying to join with them.
It’s hurting my brain a little bit trying to explain it, so if you are interested, head over to Steve Spangler Science for a full explanation.
All of the colours danced, and swirled, and chased each other into amazing patterns.
In case you missed the video up top, here’s a peak at the reaction:
This is a super easy and beautiful science experiment. It uses common kitchen materials, so you probably don’t need to run to the store. It takes about 2 minutes to prepare, and when the milk stops moving and the reaction is finished, you can start over and repeat as many times as you want, depending on how much milk you have, of course!