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Science Experiment: Liquid Rainbow in a Jar

May 7, 2014

By Jessica Vician

A girl smiles as she looks at the completed experiment.
Photography by Jennifer Shaffer Photography

Children love science, whether they know it or not. From inventing little contraptions with things they find around the house to watching what food coloring can do to hard-boiled eggs or some cake icing, activities influenced by science fascinate children of all ages.

This weekend, teach your children about density by creating a liquid rainbow in a jar. Even if they are too young to understand the concept of density, your children will enjoy mixing the liquids and watching the colorful results develop.

For this activity, you will need:

A photo of the ingredients for the experiment.

½ cup light corn syrup

½ cup blue liquid dish soap

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup isopropyl alcohol

blue, red, and green food coloring

Let’s get started!

In a glass, use a spoon to combine the light corn syrup with one drop of blue food coloring and one drop of red food coloring.

Mixing the corn syrup with food coloring.

Pour the corn syrup mixture into a Mason jar that can hold a little more than 2 ½ cups of liquid.

Pouring the corn syrup mixture into the Mason jar.

Pour the dish soap slowly down the side of the Mason jar.

Pouring in the blue dish soap.

In a separate glass, mix ½ cup of water with two drops of green food coloring, again using a spoon.

Mixing the water with green food coloring in a separate glass.

Slowly pour this green mixture down the side of the Mason jar with the dish soap inside.

Pouring the green mixture down the side of the Mason jar, the green layers on top of the blue liquid.

Pour the vegetable oil down the side of the Mason jar slowly. At this stage, you are demonstrating to your children that oil and water don’t mix.

Pouring the vegetable oil into the Mason jar, resting on top of the green liquid.

In a separate glass, use a spoon to mix the isopropyl alcohol with two drops of red food coloring.

Mixing the alcohol with red food coloring in a separate glass.

Slowly pour this red mixture down the side of the Mason jar.

The liquid rainbow in a jar is complete! Starting with a purple layer of liquid, each layer rests upon the other in blue, green, yellow, and red.

Congratulations! You have completed the science experiment and should now have a Mason jar full of colorful, layered liquids. Hopefully you and your children learned that not all liquids are created equal, as some are denser than others.



Thank you to Jennifer Shaffer for photographing this activity. Jennifer Shaffer is a Chicago-based photographer, specializing in family portraits.

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