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Cool Magic Milk Experiment You Have to Try

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A good magic trick is fascinating. And this is one cool magic milk experiment you have to try. It’s a mind-blowing trick that will excite your kids and get them interested in learning more about magic, science and art.

If you love this, you’ll enjoy my other simple homeschool science experiments!

I used simple household products to get this stunning effect. It’s so easy but the results are amazing. And this is one that can be done relatively unsupervised if you wish, because none of the products are dangerous to kids!

Though, personally, I love to see how it works just as much as the kids do.

Plus, you have everything in your kitchen right now to get started.

A cool magic milk experiment you have to try, with fun rainbow colors in milk in a bowl.

Start with some milk, preferably room temperature, some food coloring, cotton swabs, and a little dish soap. You’ll also need a shallow bowl with a lip or shallow container to hold the milk.

It doesn’t matter what colors you use, but contrasting colors will be more obvious, and coordinating colors will be more subtle. It all depends on the effect you want to see.

The materials you need for this magic milk experiment on their plate: milk, food coloring, cotton swabs and dish soap.

Why the Magic Milk Experiment Works

Contrary to what it looks like, milk isn’t just milk! It’s made up of mostly water, with a bit of fat in it, along with other nutrients — vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc.

The fat is in small droplets, held in solution in the water. That is, the fat molecules are suspended between the molecules of the water. And this fat (and the proteins) are super sensitive to changes in the milk.

The first stage of the magic milk experiment, with the food coloring dripped onto the milk.

When you first add the colors to the milk, they kind of “sit” on top of the milk. They might slowly spread through it, similar to paint spreading on paper.

They are held by the water tension in the milk, on the surface. So at first, it looks like not much happens.

Adding the dish soap to the milk in the magic milk experiment causes the colors to swirl

When you add the dishwashing liquid soap, that’s when things start moving — literally!

The soap molecules cause a chemical reaction that makes the colors mix together and moves around in the milk.

In fact, it’s not really the colors moving, but the food coloring that allows us to see the chemical reaction between the soap and the milk fat.

Check out the fun colorful patterns in the magic milk experiment.

What happens in the Magic Milk Experiment

The soap also lowers the surface tension of the milk, allowing the colors to mix and move about more freely. So for a bit, you’ll see everything move around and swirl, before finally settling.

It’s a lot of fun to watch!

At the end of the magic milk experiment, the colors are all mixed together and settling to the bottom.

The soap reacts with both the proteins in the milk and the milk fat molecule themselves. When the soap and proteins interact, the soap makes the proteins change shape, sending them swirling, which in turn makes the colors swirl about.

And the soap and fat want to join together in pockets called “micelles” (similar to how soap lifts the grease off your dirty pans!), so that also causes movement.

Eventually, everything reaches a balance or “equilibrium”, and the reaction ends. But the milk colors will still move about for a bit as the excess energy works its way out.

Magic Milk Variations

You can change the experiment by changing up the colors and adding cookie cutters to add different themes – it’s a fun way to change things up with this classic science experiment.

Recommended Science Experiment Books for Kids

Want more great science experiments with your kids? Check out some of our favorite science experiment books! And you can grab the instructions and materials list for this cool magic milk experiment below.

I enjoy simple science experiments that use household items that are easy to find. If you have any of these science books, you can plan ahead and gather the materials you need so you always have supplies ready to go for science.

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Simple Magic Milk Experiment

Simple Magic Milk Science Experiment

Materials

  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Dish soap
  • Cotton swabs
  • Dinner plate or shallow dish
  • Small container

Instructions

    1. Pour about one tablespoon of dish soap into a small container.
    2. Pour milk onto a plate. (It’s ok if you see bubbles.)
    3. Drip a few drops of food coloring of choice in the center of the milk. You can get creative with where you drop the drops and space them out how you wish. (Note: Food coloring may spread out slightly as pictured.)
    4. Dip a cotton swab into the dish soap.
    5. Place the cotton swab in the middle of the colors and watch what happens! You should see the colors start to spread out towards the sides of the plate and change over time. You can repeat this step a few times.
    6. Tip: Kids can take their cotton swab and “draw” or “swirl” in the colors. Eventually the colors will mix together until the milk becomes one color.    
    7. If you allow the milk to sit a while before all colors are mixed completely together, you can see the milk change in neat ways as pictured here.
    8. Watch over time how different things look!
    9. When complete, dispose of milk in the sink. 

Recommended Products

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Did you love this simple science experiment? Try one of these other fun science activities to add some fun science experiments to your homeschool.

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