Food Coloring & Milk Science Experiments

Written by clare edwards
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Food Coloring & Milk Science Experiments
Perform simple science experiments with milk. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

You can do many simple science experiments using ordinary household products. Two substances that can be used in science projects are milk and food dye. You can use food dyes to explore topics such as capillary action and Brownian motion. Milk is useful in a number of different ways. You can use milk and food dye to explore detergents, and even make a simple plastic using milk.

Colour Swirls

This experiment helps teach younger learners about fluids and Brownian motion. Fill a white or light-coloured cereal bowl with cold water. Stir it with a spoon. Wait a few seconds until the water appears to stop moving. Add a few drops of food colouring to the water and observe the swirls the dye makes in the water, indicating that the water is still moving under the surface. Leave the bowl undisturbed for a while. The molecules of water knock the molecules of dye around the bowl until the dye is evenly distributed throughout the water.

Food Coloring and Milk

Pour whole or 2 per cent milk into a deep dish, covering the bottom completely. Carefully add a drop each of red, yellow, blue and green food colouring near the centre of the dish. Place a drop of detergent or dish soap on a cotton swab, and carefully dip the swab into the milk at the centre. The detergent will break the surface tension of the liquids so that the colours no longer stay in the same place. At the same time, one end of the soap molecules latches to the colouring and the other to the fat in the milk, causing the colour to spread rapidly. The colours "explode" out from the centre as a result.

Plants and Food Dye

Drop a little blue food dye in a glass or jar of water. Place a white rose in the jar and leave overnight. In the morning, you'll have a blue rose. You can do the same trick with celery stalks and carnations. If you carefully slice a flower's stem along its length and stand one end in blue dyed water and the other in water with a few drops of red, half the flower will be blue and the other pink. With a stick of celery, capillary action draws the dye up the stalk which can be observed over time.

Milk Plastic

Pour a pint of whole milk into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and add 2 tbsps. of vinegar. Stir the milk and observe as it curdles into lumps. When the milk is completely divided into solids and clear liquid, cool and strain the mixture. Press the solids into a mould, and leave to dry. You have made milk plastic. Milk contains casein, a protein which separates out when vinegar is added. Milk plastic was once used for items such as buttons and jewellery.

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