Get ready to be mesmerized by the colorful swirls of our magic milk experiment! In this fun and easy chemistry activity, you'll learn how dish soap can create an amazing visual effect when mixed with milk and food coloring. Discover the science behind the magic as you watch the colors move and dance before your eyes. Get your shallow dish and toothpick or que tip ready, and let's get swirling with our swirly, whirly magic milk experiment!

Our little one was excited to try this experiment out and you can enjoy her colorful narrative and her unique take on following the instructions 😂 on our YouTube Channel.


  • Shallow dish
  • Milk
  • Food coloring
  • Dish soap
  • Toothpick or cotton swab (optional)


  1. Fill the shallow dish with milk, making sure to cover the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of milk.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring to the center of the dish, spacing them out slightly.
  3. Dip the toothpick into the dish soap and gently touch it to the center of the dish, making sure not to stir the mixture.
  4. Watch as the food coloring moves and mixes together, creating swirls and patterns.
  5. Experiment with dipping the toothpick into different areas of the dish to see how the colors react.
  6. Try adding more drops of dish soap to the dish to see how it affects the movement of the colors.
  7. When finished, dispose of the mixture by pouring it down the drain and rinsing the dish with water.


This cool experiment with milk, food coloring, and dish soap is all about surface tension and how different substances interact with each other. Let's break it down!

Milk is mostly water, but it also contains fats and proteins. The surface of the milk has something called "surface tension," which is like a stretchy, invisible skin on top of the liquid. The surface tension is caused by the water molecules sticking together and holding the milk's surface together.

Food coloring is added to the milk to help us see what's happening in the experiment. When you add a drop of dish soap, something interesting occurs! Dish soap is designed to break down fats and grease, so when it comes into contact with the milk, it starts to break down the fats and reduce the surface tension.

As the dish soap spreads out, it pushes the food coloring around, creating beautiful swirling patterns. If you dip a cotton swab in dish soap and touch it to the food coloring droplets, the soap breaks the surface tension and the colors quickly spread away from the cotton swab.

So, this experiment is a fun way to see how dish soap affects the surface tension of milk and how it interacts with the fats, proteins, and food coloring to create mesmerizing patterns.

In Conclusion

The magic milk surface tension experiment is a captivating and easy way for 5th graders to learn about the fascinating world of science. This hands-on experiment allows young minds to explore the properties of surface tension and witness the colorful, swirling patterns created by the interaction of milk, food coloring, and dish soap. Not only does this activity provide a visual feast for curious learners, but it also demonstrates the power of scientific inquiry and encourages kids to ask questions, make observations, and think critically about the world around them. So, grab your supplies and dive into the wonderful world of surface tension with this delightful and educational experiment!


Here are some other surface tension experiments that kids can try:

  1. Pepper Scatter: Sprinkle some ground pepper on the surface of a bowl of water. Then, dip a cotton swab or toothpick into dish soap and gently touch the water's surface. The pepper will quickly scatter to the edges of the bowl due to the reduced surface tension caused by the soap.
  2. Floating Paper Clip: Fill a glass with water and carefully try to float a paper clip on the water's surface. The surface tension of the water should support the paper clip if you place it gently, without breaking the surface tension. You can use a small piece of paper or tissue to help you lower the paper clip onto the water.
  3. Bubble Tower: Have kids dip a straw into a mixture of water, dish soap, and a bit of glycerin or corn syrup. Then, they can gently blow into the straw to create a tower of bubbles. This experiment demonstrates how surface tension holds the bubbles together.
  4. Water Drop Race: Draw two parallel lines on a sheet of wax paper. Using an eyedropper, place a drop of water at the starting line and tilt the wax paper to make the water drop move along the lines. Kids can race their water drops, observing how the drops are held together by surface tension.

These experiments are a fun and engaging way for kids to explore surface tension and learn about the properties of water and other liquids.

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