rainbow milk science experiment
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The Awesome Rainbow Milk Science Experiment


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– this is very possibly both the easiest and most 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 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 photos don’t do it justice.

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - Ingredients

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Rainbow Milk Science Experiment - the set up

1. Pour milk in dish

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 we 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. Squeeze drops of food coloring on milk

Begin by squeezing droplets of the food coloring on the surface of the milk. One color or several colors.

Rainbow Milk Science Experiment in Progress

3. Dip Q-tip in soap, then milk

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 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 - adding food coloring

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.



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Rainbow Milk Science Experiment

  • Almost Unschoolers
    July 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    We have done this, but it’s been quite a while. I imagine my youngest don’t even remember it. Time to pull out the milk!

    • jessica thomason
      March 18, 2015 at 11:29 am

      My daughters friends did it in a kitty pool filled up with milk and it was amazing how all of the color just exploded .

  • Jennifer
    July 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm

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

  • Ann
    July 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    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?

  • Tanya
    July 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    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.

  • MaryAnn F. Kohl, art book author and educator
    July 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    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.

  • harindharan
    July 25, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Wonderful rainbow science experiment using colors and milk. Kids would be love doing this.

  • Janie Morey
    August 26, 2014 at 10:08 am

    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.

  • Pippa
    August 26, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    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.

  • Marji
    December 12, 2014 at 5:41 am

    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 !!

  • Tracie
    March 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    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.

  • jessica thomason
    March 18, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I have never thought it was going to work on buttermilk I will try that some time .

  • Jayden marie
    May 30, 2015 at 3:33 pm