Paper Chromatography Directions

Written by athena hessong Google
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Paper Chromatography Directions
Separate the dyes out which make the colours in markers using paper chromatography. (marker image by AGphotographer from

Create a tie-dyed image by pulling the component colours from markers using paper chromatography. Paper chromatography separates materials into their components. This project takes minutes, but it produces a colourful design in the paper and it shows the range of colours required to be mixed to create non-primary hues like black or brown. Separating marker inks into their base colours can act as an introduction to the science of chromatography or in art for colour mixing.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cone shaped coffee filter
  • Scissors
  • Water-soluble markers of various colours including black
  • Tape
  • Pencils/pens (1 per marker colour)
  • 1/2 cup alcohol (per marker colour)
  • 1/4 cup water (per marker colour)
  • 1 cup capacity drinking glass (1 per marker colour)

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  1. 1

    Cut the coffee filter into 1-inch strips. Make one strip for each marker colour you will test.

  2. 2

    Draw a dot at the bottom of each strip with a different colour marker.

  3. 3

    Fold the top 1 inch of the strip (opposite from the dot) over and tape to create a loop.

  4. 4

    Put a separate pencil through each loop.

  5. 5

    Pour the 1/2 cup of alcohol and 1/4 cup of water into each drinking glass.

  6. 6

    Place a pencil across the top of each glass with the dot end of the coffee filter submerged in the alcohol solution.

  7. 7

    Leave the coffee filter(s) in the solution for up to 30 minutes or until the filter absorbs the water to the top and the colour from the dot spreads upward.

  8. 8

    Remove the filter strips and let dry to make your observations.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not use permanent markers for paper chromatography as their inks will not properly separate.

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