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Color Changing Milk

Color Changing Milk Experiment Is An Explosion of Colors!!!

Rating: 54321

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Using household materials like milk, food coloring, and dish soap, you'll create an awesome chemical reaction and a beautiful explosion of colors.
This unforgettable hands-on learning experience is fun and easy—no wonder it's one of Steve Spangler's most popular experiments! Learn how to turn this activity into an awesome science fair project, and find more hands-on science fun in Steve's book, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes.

Get Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes

Materials
  • Milk (whole or 2%)
  • Dinner plate
  • Food coloring (red, yellow, green, blue)
  • Dish-washing soap (Dawn brand works well)
  • Cotton swabs

Videos

  • Color Changing Milk - Sick Science! #018
Print Experiment

Experiment

  1. Pour enough milk in the dinner plate to completely cover the bottom to the depth of about 1/4 inch. Allow the milk to settle.
  2. Add one drop of each of the four colors of food coloring - red, yellow, blue, and green - to the milk. Keep the drops close together in the center of the plate of milk.
  3. Find a clean cotton swab for the next part of the experiment. Predict what will happen when you touch the tip of the cotton swab to the center of the milk. It's important not to stir the mix. Just touch it with the tip of the cotton swab. Go ahead and try it. Did anything happen?
  4. Now place a drop of liquid dish soap on the other end of the cotton swab. Place the soapy end of the cotton swab back in the middle of the milk and hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds. Look at that burst of color! It's like the 4th of July in a bowl of milk!
  5. Add another drop of soap to the tip of the cotton swab and try it again. Experiment with placing the cotton swab at different places in the milk. Notice that the colors in the milk continue to move even when the cotton swab is removed. What makes the food coloring in the milk move?

How Does It Work?

Milk is mostly water but it also contains vitamins, minerals, proteins, and tiny droplets of fat suspended in solution. Fats and proteins are sensitive to changes in the surrounding solution (the milk).

The secret of the bursting colors is the chemistry of that tiny drop of soap. Dish soap, because of its bipolar characteristics (nonpolar on one end and polar on the other), weakens the chemical bonds that hold the proteins and fats in solution. The soap's polar, or hydrophilic (water-loving), end dissolves in water, and its hydrophobic (water-fearing) end attaches to a fat globule in the milk. This is when the fun begins.

The molecules of fat bend, roll, twist, and contort in all directions as the soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules. During all of this fat molecule gymnastics, the food coloring molecules are bumped and shoved everywhere, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity. As the soap becomes evenly mixed with the milk, the action slows down and eventually stops. 

Try adding another drop of soap to see if there's any more movement. If so, you discovered there are still more fat molecules that haven't found a partner at the big color dance. Add another drop of soap to start the process again.

Additional Info

Science Fair Connection:

The Color Changing Milk activity is a great demonstration of what happens when you combine dish soap and milk. But it's just that... a demonstration. How can you make this colorful and engaging activity a good science fair project? Change something, create a new experiment, and compare the results.

  • Repeat the experiment using water in place of milk. Will you get the same eruption of color? Why or why not?
  • What kind of milk produces the best swirling of color: skim, 1%, 2%, whole milk, cream? Does the fat content of the milk affect the reaction?

The dish soap must remain the same in the experiment. Use the same brand for each trial and the same amount of soap. Use the same colors and the same amount of food coloring in each trial. Pour the same amount of liquid into the bottom of the dish. All of these steps ensure that you have standardized the conditions as much as possible and have isolated a variable--the one thing that changes in the experiment. In this case, the variable is the type of milk you are using. Take photos of the reactions (maybe even videotape the reactions) to document your discoveries and share at the science fair.

Color Changing Milk Experiment Is An Explosion of Colors!!!

Using household materials like milk, food coloring, and dish soap, you'll create an awesome chemical reaction and a beautiful explosion of colors.
This unforgettable hands-on learning experience is fun and easy—no wonder it's one of Steve Spangler's most popular experiments! Learn how to turn this activity into an awesome science fair project, and find more hands-on science fun in Steve's book, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes.

Create More Unforgettable Learning Experiences
with Steve Spangler's book, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes – $14.99

We Were Blown Away

“I just tried this with my 4 and 6 year old. We were blown away. I can't believe I have never tried this before. I will use this with my first graders this year.”
– Review by Angela Francis (Posted on 7/9/10)

Color Changing Milk Experiment

This experiment is perfect for early childhood chemistry lessons on chemical bonds. Children ages 4 to 12 are engaged and excited about coloring milk. They will learn about color mixing and bipolar characteristics.

Experiment Materials:

  • Milk (whole or 2%)
  • Dinner plate
  • Food coloring (red, yellow, green, blue)
  • Dish-washing soap (Dawn brand works well)
  • Cotton swabs

Naked Eggs & Flying Potatoes

Not your ordinary book of science experiments - unforgettable experiments that make science fun!
Only $14.99!

Fire Bubbles & Exploding Toothpaste

Steve Spangler's latest book of unforgettable experiments that make science fun!
Only $14.99!

Steve Spangler Book Set

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Experiment Procedure

  1. Pour enough milk in the dinner plate to completely cover the bottom to the depth of about 1/4 inch. Allow the milk to settle.
  2. Add one drop of each of the four colors of food coloring - red, yellow, blue, and green - to the milk. Keep the drops close together in the center of the plate of milk.
  3. Find a clean cotton swab for the next part of the experiment. Predict what will happen when you touch the tip of the cotton swab to the center of the milk. It's important not to stir the mix. Just touch it with the tip of the cotton swab. Go ahead and try it. Did anything happen?
  4. Now place a drop of liquid dish soap on the other end of the cotton swab. Place the soapy end of the cotton swab back in the middle of the milk and hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds. Look at that burst of color! It's like the 4th of July in a bowl of milk!
  5. Add another drop of soap to the tip of the cotton swab and try it again. Experiment with placing the cotton swab at different places in the milk. Notice that the colors in the milk continue to move even when the cotton swab is removed. What makes the food coloring in the milk move?

How Does It Work?

Milk is mostly water but it also contains vitamins, minerals, proteins, and tiny droplets of fat suspended in solution. Fats and proteins are sensitive to changes in the surrounding solution (the milk).

The secret of the bursting colors is the chemistry of that tiny drop of soap. Dish soap, because of its bipolar characteristics (nonpolar on one end and polar on the other), weakens the chemical bonds that hold the proteins and fats in solution. The soap's polar, or hydrophilic (water-loving), end dissolves in water, and its hydrophobic (water-fearing) end attaches to a fat globule in the milk. This is when the fun begins.

The molecules of fat bend, roll, twist, and contort in all directions as the soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules. During all of this fat molecule gymnastics, the food coloring molecules are bumped and shoved everywhere, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity. As the soap becomes evenly mixed with the milk, the action slows down and eventually stops. 

Try adding another drop of soap to see if there's any more movement. If so, you discovered there are still more fat molecules that haven't found a partner at the big color dance. Add another drop of soap to start the process again.

Additional Information

Science Fair Connection

The Color Changing Milk activity is a great demonstration of what happens when you combine dish soap and milk. But it's just that... a demonstration. How can you make this colorful and engaging activity a good science fair project? Change something, create a new experiment, and compare the results.

  • Repeat the experiment using water in place of milk. Will you get the same eruption of color? Why or why not?
  • What kind of milk produces the best swirling of color: skim, 1%, 2%, whole milk, cream? Does the fat content of the milk affect the reaction?

The dish soap must remain the same in the experiment. Use the same brand for each trial and the same amount of soap. Use the same colors and the same amount of food coloring in each trial. Pour the same amount of liquid into the bottom of the dish. All of these steps ensure that you have standardized the conditions as much as possible and have isolated a variable--the one thing that changes in the experiment. In this case, the variable is the type of milk you are using. Take photos of the reactions (maybe even videotape the reactions) to document your discoveries and share at the science fair.

Customer Reviews

The best science experiment ever!

55555

“It was so cool when all the colors shot out in different directions. It even works with almond milk.”
gwen w. (March 18, 2013)

W-O-W-!!!!!

55555

“Awesome I will probably get a 100”
Garrett (March 22, 2010)

Best Science Fair Project!

55555

“I'm In 6th Grade And This Is A Great Experiment For Any Grade :D Good Luck!”
Juana (April 27, 2011)

awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

55555

“this was the best project ever”
sammy (January 4, 2011)

Colorful explosion

55555

“I am a 4th grade teacher and the reaction from my kids was amazing! Great class project to show chemical reaction.”
Leticia (May 29, 2010)

color changing milk!!!

55555

“amazing just cant explain how amazing it is lovedddddd ittttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!super easy tooo”
marisol (March 7, 2012)

Thanks

55555

“ok i need a science fair experiment and i just tried it and it worked wonders. God may bless for this amazing experiment. Thank you once again.”
Justine (November 3, 2010)

milk and food coloring

55555

“I just tried this with my 4 and 6 year old. We were blown away. I can't believe I have never tried this before. I will use this with my first graders this year.”
Angela Francis (July 9, 2010)

Color Changing Milk is Kool

55555

“That is so kool. My name is Anna and i am doing this project for the Science Show Case at my school, Neosho Middle School, i am in 6th grade and i want to send a shout out to Mrs. Robison the best science teacher ever!!!”
Anna Matlock (May 1, 2012)

OMG

55555

“OMG this was totally crazyyyyyy, i fell in love with it!!!!! 0MG THIS IS MY SCIENCE EXIT PROJECT THANK YALLLLL”
Ydrancheska Haveras (April 15, 2010)

Customer Reviews

Color Changing Milk is Kool Review by Anna Matlock
54321

That is so kool. My name is Anna and i am doing this project for the Science Show Case at my school, Neosho Middle School, i am in 6th grade and i want to send a shout out to Mrs. Robison the best science teacher ever!!!

(Posted on May 1, 2012)

O.M.G THATS COOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL ROCK ON Review by sydni
54321

WHEN I TRIED IT I WAS AMAZED AND SO WAS MY FAMILY WEE ALL TRIED IT AND IT BLEW OUR MIND AND NOW IM GOING TO BLOW MY CLASS AND TEACHERS MIND TOMORROW

(Posted on November 22, 2010)

hahahahahahahahahahah thIS WAS FUN!! Review by jesus
54321

hey my name is Jesus and i did this experiment and it was really easy and the supplies were not expencive also i had a blast doing this!!!!!@!!!~!!!#%#%#&$*^*^#*^#^#%@# these are the words i cant explain about this experiemnt

(Posted on November 22, 2010)

Thank you Review by Alvin
54321

i am 4th grade and thank you so much for this wonderful project i wish i would win the science fair thank you very much! Steve it is fun to do this color changing milk

(Posted on March 14, 2011)

c00lll:) Review by judy
54321

thIss iS a c0ol sCIieNCe idEA...iT iiS awSOme!!:)

(Posted on March 3, 2011)

Student favorite! Review by Renee
54321

After having spent a year doing various chemistry labs, many of my high school students agree this is their favorite and the one they will remember - and it's so simple and safe.

(Posted on August 28, 2010)

Explosion of Colour! Review by Kody Auger
54321

ITS AN EXPLOSION OF COLOUR! ITS LIKE THE 4TH OF JULY IN A BOWL!!!!

(Posted on October 19, 2009)

OMG awsome Review by Devin geskie
54321

This the most cool thing ever if you move it around it makes a world pool.

(Posted on February 26, 2011)

Milk Fireworks Review by Liz
54321

This is right up there with corn starch and water for coolest simple science demonstration. Love it, can't wait to use it with students!

(Posted on January 15, 2013)

Very cool explosion of colors Review by Wes
54321

This was easy and safe and actually makes a lot of sense.

(Posted on March 7, 2010)

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