Color Changing Milk!

27 10 2008

Steve Spangler’s Science Website offers a ton of wonderful science experiments for kids. One of my favorite experiments that Steve Spangler does is Color Changing Milk! Blogs like A Bit of This and A Bit of That and SMMART Ideas talk about this fun and popular experiment, too! Here is what you do: 


  • 2% or Whole Milk
  • A dinner plate
  • Red, yellow, green, and blue food coloring
  • Dish washing soap (Steve Spangler recommends using Dawn) 
  • Q-Tips


  1. Pour milk in the dinner plate (enough to fill the whole plate and completely cover the bottom).
  2. Add one drop of each color of food coloring in the milk. Try to keep the drops close together, but not so close that they are already mixing with one another.
  3. Take a clean Q-tip and dab the end of it into some dish washing soap.
  4. Place the end of the soap-covered Q-tip into the middle of the milk. Hold the Q-tip there for about 10 seconds. All of a sudden, the colors in the milk will quickly begin to swirl together!
  5. You can reapply Q-tips  with dish soap and try this as much as you want in your colorful milk mixture!

So how does this simple, but fun experiment work? Milk contains protein and tiny amounts of fat in it. Both fat and proteins are very sensitive to chemical changes. The chemicals in the dish soap weaken the chemical bonds that hold the protein together in the milk solution. The food coloring allows us to visibly see the changes in the protein molecules. Also, the soap molecules cause the fat in the milk to mix and swirl until the fat has been distributed across the entire amount of milk.




63 responses

29 01 2009

I love Milk

19 02 2009

This is one of my favorite experiments too. Thanks again for featuring one of Steve’s experiments. Another one of my favorite color experiments is tie dying t-shirts with Sharpie pens and rubbing alcohol. My girls have several tie dyed t-shirts from doing this activity over and over again.

9 03 2009


20 03 2009

i saw this experiment on youtube and i was dying to get the directions on this for my science fair project!!

3 03 2010

oh realy

20 04 2009

I love this project but, where can I find research about how the milk changes and about everything else.

20 04 2009

Hi Natasha! I love this project, too! Notice that the experiment says to use “2% or whole milk”. That’s because you want to work with a liquid that has FAT in it! You may already know that oil (which is a kind of fat) and water don’t mix. When you drop the food coloring into the milk, they stay separate because the fatty milk and the watery food coloring don’t mix together. Dishwashing soap “busts up” the fat molecules, allowing them to more easily swirl and mix with the food coloring, making those pretty patterns you see. A really cool follow up to this experiment would be to see what happens if you use fat-free milk! Thanks! – Christina

24 02 2010

Umm hello(: I would like to know the purpose of this experiment. Im doing this as my science fair project and my partners and i have to make a board and bring it in to school. we need to know the purpose of this project. Its almost due, so please respond quickly. thanks! 🙂

12 03 2010

the purpose in to see how the milk moves the food coloring wit soap

29 03 2011

I just tried this experiment with skim milk (fat free) and the explosion still happened, but it only happened once. The protiens are still there, but all the fat is gone, so it doesn’t work as well. Thats a demonstration somebody could use. How The Skim milk and the Whole milk still have the same nutriential elements, just not the same amount of fat.

26 04 2010
Pickle Eater

luv it 2 it waz fun

8 06 2009

cool i saw this on youtube im doing it for my science fair its the best

8 06 2009


23 11 2009

“This project is the best one ever!”

29 07 2009

Hi i am from australia and I love this experiment also i have to do a report so i chose this one. Thanks so much YOU ROCK

29 07 2009

Hi, friend from Australia! Glad that we could point you to this experiment!

25 08 2009
mileena freeman

Your projects are so cool i do not know how you maid it but its so neat i done it last year in 7th grade 4 science fair project!

23 11 2009

Im doing this project too.

5 01 2010
baby girl

this is awsome

25 01 2010

date: mon, jan, 25th 2010
i love this experiment and im doin it for the science fair march 8th

8 02 2010

cool cannot wait

8 02 2010

my science fair is in two weeks

15 02 2010

heheh im using it for my sciece fair 🙂

9 05 2011

Awsome! using it for the science fair project is a really smart idea I wish you good luck! and how did you put a picture of a smiley face there? I want to know. Your luck that you have that project! I’m doing the chemistry of diapers.


22 03 2010

What is the data on this project

21 04 2010
hillary wage

i love this project im definetly gonna win its so awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9 05 2011

Really? my friends are doing it too!! Ha Ha! so I do hope you win!

3 05 2010

Yes this is a very cool project and we are doing it for my son’s science project to!

17 11 2010

What is the abstract on this project?

18 11 2010

I did not write an abstract for this project. Check out this website that has instructions on how to write one.
I hope that helps!

17 11 2010

What is the data on this project

18 11 2010

The data can be your observations describing how well the colors mix. You could say how well they mixed on a scale from 1 to 5. 1 being the colors stayed completely separate and 5 being they mix together completely creating one color. Also, you can try this experiment with skim, 2% and whole milk and compare the results for the different variables. I hope you have fun doing this experiment! Let us know how it turns out!

18 02 2011

i like it. i do this experiment in my school in science fair.

6 04 2011

lol this is so fun

19 04 2011
I love JB

I love this experiment.Now I know about this experiment,I’m going to do this experiment in my school science fair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

29 09 2011

omg i love justin bieber too

28 04 2011

This is a GREAT science fair project!!!!!!!!!

9 05 2011

Hi! I’m Fiona I thought that this was a great Idea for my science fair project! My friends and I worked on the project and used imformation from this website! I’m 10 turning 11 I feel great! But too bad I had to move from P6 to P5 now my project is The Chemistry Of Diapers I don’t really have any idea for it……………
P.S please don’t laugh at the diaper thing………

11 05 2011

Hi Fiona,
Sounds like you’re having fun with your science fair project. We do a Diaper Chemistry activity here at the Austin Children’s Museum, so I didn’t think that comment was weird at all. The activity we do is called Diaper Slime (yuck!… haha) and it explores the water absorbing properties of the polymer that is inside of diapers – are you doing something similar?
Keep up the great work!

29 09 2011

used for my project too totally awesome right:)
p.s i love justin drew bieber

29 09 2011

what is the hypothesis

30 09 2011

You get to come up with your own hypothesis! What do you think will happen? Why do you think that?

10 05 2011

Hey, I have all the stuff I need for it but I need to make a board and my project is due next week. I’m not really the smartest kid in my class so do you mid giving me the Procedure or steps of the experiment, Hyposthesis, and Conclusions. If you can do all this you have really helped me out, Thank You!

16 05 2011

Hi Oren,
We can’t do your work for you, but we can point you to some handy resources.

Here’s some info about how to do a science fair project:

and here’s specific information about setting up a display board for your project:

Doing your own work for the Science Fair will walk you through the process that lots of scientist, engineers, designers and life-long-learners use all the time in their jobs and daily lives. It’s a great experience to have – I bet your teacher or school librarian could help with any specifics on your project.

Good Luck!

17 08 2011

i loved this experiment!!!

25 08 2011

can we do this in oil as this also contains fat

25 08 2011

You should try it! Because oil and water (or food coloring) have such different densities, I bet you’ll get some interesting results. Let us know how it goes!

19 09 2011

This is now my science expieriment!

28 09 2011

I had this idea, but some other people thought I stole this idea.
Unless I can materialize a thermos full of milk out of nowhere, I had the same idea from the very beginning

29 09 2011

used for 6th grade science fair project it works great 🙂

30 10 2011

what would the problem statement be?????????????????

6 12 2011

i am doing this one 2oooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

26 12 2011

Would timing the amount of time it takes for the reaction to stop be a good way to test the amount of fat contained in the different variables im using, (milk, orange juice, & powerade)?

19 02 2012

My son is doing this for his science fair proyect in a couple of weeks. I’ve seen some videos where there is like a “color star” effect on top of the mild when the soapy cotton swab is introduced, which we have been unable to obtain. Any ideas of how we can get the star effect? thanks….

5 03 2012
Ziad Hossam Algendy

does it work without blue coloring food

5 03 2012
kristina c

i think this experiment is cool im doing it for a prestation in one of my classes.

23 04 2012

my group is doing this experement for the science fair.

26 04 2012

This experiment is awesome I am going to do this for my science project and can I use different food coloring colors??

28 05 2012

Doing this for Science Fair, how does it relate to the real world?

28 05 2012

How does this experiment relate to the real world? (Its for science fair)

21 06 2012

yes it really relate to the real world

21 06 2012

This is so cool .I can’t even wait for the science project now

1 04 2013

this is cool and its my science project now 😀

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