The magic milk experiment has always been a hit with the kids. It’s so fun to watch all the colors “run away” from the soap and make cool patterns.
For this winter and holiday season, we are breaking out the magic milk experiment again! This time, we are adding snowman, Christmas tree, and snowflake cookie cutters to the mix. It’s a great educational indoor activity for kids to do with the cool weather out.
Keep reading below for steps on how to do the simple color-changing milk science experiment with your kids.
How to Do the Winter Magic Milk Experiment
- Milk (full-fat or 2%)
- Liquid food coloring
- Dishwashing liquid
- Cotton swabs
- Winter and holiday cookie cutters
- Small bowl
1. Pour milk into the plate. Don’t pour too much milk; just pour enough to cover the bottom.
2. Place the cookie cutter of your choice in the milk.
3. Squeeze a few drops of food coloring in the milk. You can use the same color, or you can use different colors to see what happens when they mix together.
4. Pour some dish soap into a small bowl.
5. Dip your cotton swab in the dish soap and coat the cotton tip.
6. Gently place the cotton swab in the milk and watch what happens!
We have done this color-changing milk experiment so many times I lost count. The kids loved watching the color swirl in the milk and kept touching more cotton swabs with soap to the milk until the reaction completely stopped.
You can stick to having food coloring on the outside of the cookie-cutter, or you can also squeeze a few drops on the inside. It’s up to you! Just make sure you use different cotton swabs for the different colors.
Here are some tips if you run into trouble with this winter experiment:
- Make sure you use full or 2% milk. There needs to be enough fat content in the milk for this experiment to work.
- If your food coloring is not spreading, try turning the cotton swab in the food coloring. This happened to us when we were using thicker food coloring and the colors started spreading after we dispersed the blob of food coloring a little.
- Don’t pour too much milk on the plate! The food coloring tends to get a little lost if there is a lot of milk and you won’t see the pretty swirls as well.
The Science Behind Color Changing Milk
As we saw in the magic milk experiment, soap breaks up the minerals, proteins, and fats in the milk. The fat content of the milk is key in this color-changing milk experiment, and that’s why full-fat milk is the best to use.
Milk fat is a non-polar molecular that does not dissolve in water. When you add soap to the milk, the non-polar portion of the soap solution runs around to collect with the fat molecules. In the process, the soap molecules and fat molecules bump into the food coloring molecules, and as a result, we see an explosion of color!
For more winter activities, check out: