Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oil and Colored Ice Cube Science

When you were a kid, did you enjoy seeing how oil and water would not mix?  I always thought that was so neat.  (I'll even admit, sometimes even now as an adult, I shake salad dressing bottles at the store just to watch that happen.  Is that weird?)  Eh hem... anyway... a couple of days ago, Chuck and I played around with this phenomenon.  We placed some colored ice cubes into cooking oil and watched them melt.  The results were just really, really beautiful.

Observing colored ice cubes melting in oil

Colored water droplets in oil
Can science be dreamy?  I hope so, because that's the best word that I can think of to describe what I saw.  Now Chuck didn't appreciate how the colorful bubbles looked like jewels, but he did enjoy swishing and moving the liquids around.  

Keep reading to see how we played with oil and water!

 Materials needed to observe oil and water

  • ice cube tray
  • food coloring
  • water 
  • clear container
  • cooking oil
  • fork (or spoon)
  • optional:  old clear soda bottle and funnel

Directions to observe oil and water

1.  Place a couple of drops of food coloring into your ice cube trays.  Then, fill them up with water.

2.  Place ice cube trays into the freezer.

place colored ice cubes in cooking oil
3.  Once frozen, take ice cubes out.  Pour some cooking oil into your clear container.

4.  Drop your colored ice cubes inside.

as ice cubes melt, they create colorful water droplets
5.  As the ice cubes melt, they create colorful water droplets that floated through the oil.  (Why is this the case?  Polarity! Water is a polar molecule and electrically charged while oil is not.  Like molecules dissolve like, so the oil and water don't mix because they're not the same.  Ermmm... need more info?  Click here to read a detailed explanation for why oil and water don't mix. )

Note:  I used a fork to lift the ice cube up and down so that the water droplets would gracefully fall through the oil.

Come on now, isn't this just gorgeous?

colorful water droplets created by melting ice cubes

Ok, now let's play with oil and water! 


Once our colored ice cubes melted, I poured everything into an old soda bottle. (A funnel definitely helped out here!)  Then, I capped the bottle and let Chuck shake it.  The different colored water droplets eventually mixed to become a uniform dark green color.  And the effects were still just as beautiful.

oil and water mixed into a plastic bottle

Don't know why, but this image just looked so spacey to me.

beautiful oil and water design

Happy exploring!  

Pssst- Looking for other easy ways to explore science with kids?

Check out the links below!

Make shaving cream clouds and rainbow rain Make fake snow from diapers