This Magic Milk Science Experiment is an easy setup and a must-try. Did you know that you can create fireworks in milk? That’s right you can turn any milk you have in your fridge into a Magical Colorful Explosion using simple ingredients found in your kitchen. Don’t have milk? No problem! This magical experiment works with Almond milk, Lactose-free milk, and even cream.
This easy science experiment is a must-do for all ages. And to add an extra dash of magic (or science) we have added a twist to the Classic Magic Milk Science Experiment.
The Magic Milk Science Experiment is so mesmerizing to watch. It is not only a great science experiment but also a wonderful sensory activity to do with children. It helps calm and soothe the mind while learning lots of cool science. It is like a home-made STEAM calming toy if you ask me.
Recommended age: 2 years + (Active supervision is always advised with my activities)
How to do the Magic Milk Science Experiment with a Twist:
Magic Milk with a Twist Materials
- A shallow plate or a dish
- Milk (The more fat the better)
- Food colouring or concentrated watercolours
- Dish soap
- Cotton swab
- Aluminium foil
Magic Milk Science Experiment Instructions
The set up is simple. See the directions below or check out the video for the instructions and to watch the magic in action.
- Pour a thin layer of milk on a plate or dish.
- Create the aluminium foil spiral wall.
- To make the wall: cut a piece of aluminium foil and fold it 3-4 times. We used a 6 inch (15 cm) wide piece and folded it a little over 3 times to get a high and sturdy “wall” to make our spiral.
- Twist the aluminium foil “wall” to create a spiral.
- There is no right or wrong way of making the spiral wall. The important thing is to fold it a couple of times so that it is sturdy enough to stand on its own. The length and width of the wall do not matter. Experiment with different sizes and lengths and pick one that you like best.
- Place the spiral in the centre of the plate.
- Add drops of food colouring all around in the milk. Make sure to add some in the spiral
- Dip a cotton swab in the dish soap
- Then put the cotton swab in the milk, pressing it down in one spot for a few seconds.
- Watch what happens!
The Science Behind the Magic:
The key to the magical color explosion in this experiment is soap! Soap molecules are made up of two special ends, The hydrophilic (“water-loving”) end and the hydrophobic (“water-fearing”) end.
Water molecules are polar molecules and they mix well with other polar molecules such as food coloring or concentrated watercolors. Fat and oils are non-polar molecules and they do not mix well with water or polar molecules. That is why oil and water do not mix.
Milk is made up of water, minerals, proteins, and fats. When the dish soap enters the milk, the different ends of the soap start “chasing” after the water and fat molecules in the milk. The hydrophilic end runs after the water molecules and attaches to them whereas the hydrophobic goes after the fat molecules and attaches to them. This basically pushes the food colouring molecules around and creates sort of a dance or fireworks. Normally the dance would be invisible to you, but the food coloring helps you to see all the movement taking place.
Eventually, as most soap molecules attach to the fat molecules and the soap spreads throughout the milk, the movement will slow and eventually stop.
At this point, you can press another dish soap covered cotton swab into the milk and see if there are any more fat molecules that haven’t been found. If you still see movement, there were still some fat molecules available for the soap to chase after!
The Aluminium spiral was added to create a wall and direction for the molecules to move in. Instead of the molecules moving all around the plate when being chased by the soap, they ended up moving in the direction of the spiral.
Other ideas to try:
Try the experiment with different types of milk or with different fat content and see how it affects the colorful explosion. Does the movement happen faster or slower? Does it last longer or shorter?
Try different wall shapes and see how it can affect the direction of the movement.
I hope you enjoy this experiment as much as we did!
About the Author:
Shahzia Vira from Little Steam Learners
Shahzia is a science educator who is passionate about hands-on learning and STEAM education. She is the founder and creative content creator of Little Steam Learners learning platform for hands-on activities to try in classrooms or at home.