The Awesome Rainbow Milk Science Experiment

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Rainbow Milk Science Experiment

This rainbow milk science experiment is popular around the web. And for good reason.

Also called milky fireworks, erupting colors, magic milk, tie-dyed milk, and more, this very possibly both the easiest and most amazingly beautiful science experiment out there.

It is so super awesome and kids LOVE it!

Am I going a little over the top? I guess adults love it, too.

We have done this one before. More than once. But it never gets old.

This time we did the milky fireworks on top of our simple DIY light table (simply a clear plastic storage bin from Target with a string of white Christmas lights inside) which added an extra level of beauty to the experiment. It was lovely to see the light shining through the milk, the colors, and the magic!

Ready for the how-to and photos of the beautiful process?

I even embedded a couple of my instagram videos of the magic milk in action, since still photos can’t do it justice.

The Awesome Rainbow Milk Science Experiment

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - Ingredients



Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - the set up

1. To set up for this activity, assemble  food coloring, a small bowl of liquid dish soap, and some Q-tips then pour a thin layer of the whole milk in a shallow dish. As you can see, we did this science experiment over our light table this time around, so used glass baking dishes. All the better to let the light shine through, my dear.

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - Adding drops of food coloring

2. To begin, squeeze droplets of the food coloring on the surface of the milk. One color or several colors.

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment in Progress

3. Next, dip a Q-tip in the dish soap and then in the milk, preferably in the center of a spot of food coloring.

Watch the colors explode all over as the detergent interacts with the fat molecules in the whole milk!

Here are a couple of brief videos I took of the beautiful erupting colors in motion. I shared both on Instagram when we did this experiment.

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - getting muddy

Repeat steps 2 and 3 as often as you like until you end up with muddy milk.

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - starting fresh

If you’d like to keep going (my kids always do), discard the muddy milk then add another thin layer of milk and begin again.

Rainbow Milk - Fun Kids Science Experiment

So tell me… Have you tried this rainbow milk science experiment with your kids yet?

If not, you MUST do it asap!

If you have, you must do it again! Preferably asap.

Just ’cause.

It’s that good.

More posts about this great science experiment

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Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - Trying it on the light table

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  1. Jennifer says

    We tried this once and my kids thanked me for it. Next time I will use less milk though, thanks for the tips.

  2. Ann says

    I am surprised you are discarding organic milk. This doesn’t seem like good modeling behavior. Maybe you could find a way to use the milk somehow?

  3. Tanya says

    I’ve done this recently and it was a big hit. However, my results were not as spectacular. I could only add soap a couple of times and the soap moved the colours to the far edges so fast there was no swirling. I used 2% milk and Palmolive. There were some interesting after effects though and my toddler loved using an eye dropper.

  4. says

    When I see an idea from my own childhood, but improved (light table!!!!), I get all excited all over again, just like a kid. This is in my book Science Arts, but Jean, you have added so much more to it to make it even more exciting. And of course, the color and the video. Fantastic. When I used to do this with my kids (now about Jean’s age), we “wasted” a lot of milk. But was it wasted? I think not.

  5. Janie Morey says

    This is absolutely the best! I have shared this with my kids (two sons, now in their thirties) and every kid I taught as an art paraprofessional on up to sharing it with my grandkids. Every child needs to experience this. Have lots of milk on hand to start again after the milk gets muddy when there is too much soap to make the magic happen. I started with no color to show the kids how the milk moved and bubbled with the addition of soap on the swab, just at the edge of the dish where the milk starts, then moved on to color, one at a time to build the excitement. Fun for adults too.

  6. Pippa says

    This looks brilliant! Will be doing this the next time we have a rainy day.

    P.S. If people are worried about ‘wasting’ milk, why not wait until you have some which has turned (but not yet yoghurty!) – I’m sure it works just the same and it’s a good way to make use of milk which can’t be drunk.

  7. Marji says

    I just did this experiment with my three kids: twin 2 year old boys and a 7 year old girl. They absolutely loved it and we only stopped when we ran out of food colouring :) Thank you very much for this idea !!

  8. says

    I happened to have some buttermilk in the fridge; so, we tried it, just for fun. And, the results were gorgeous! The thickness of the buttermilk “holds the colors” and the artist can create a paisley pattern.