Creating magic milk is an awesome kitchen science experiment and art project for kids to do! It is simple to set up and provides children with a blank canvas on which to create, color, experiment, and learn.

Call it magic milk, milk fireworks, color changing milk, or tie-dye milk. Whatever you name it, give this super easy process science/art activity a try!

Magic Milk as Process Art

Process art is about the journey of creation with minimal focus on the end product. Process science is similar. It is about creating, mixing, hypothesizing, tweeking, testing, retesting, and learning through it all. There is not necessarily a final product and there is no right or wrong way to do it.

Every time we do magic milk I am impressed with the new variations my kids come up with and the new ways they choose to carry out their ideas. This time they added glitter, mixed colors, and developed interesting shapes and patterns.

Getting Magic Milk Ready

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We headed to the kitchen to gather the following supplies:

  • Milk (we used whole since that is what we had in the fridge)
  • A bowl or casserole dish
  • Food Coloring or liquid water colors
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Liquid dish soap (make sure it’s NOT antibacterial or it won’t work well)
  • Toothpick

Once we had our supplies ready we sat down at the table and followed these instructions:

  • Pour milk in a dish. You don’t want or need much, just a thin film that covers the bottom of the dish.
  • Squeeze a few drops of food coloring or liquid water colors into the milk. Add glitter, if desired.
  • Dip the end of the toothpick into the dish soap and then into the center of one drop of colored milk. Don’t stir it! Watch the color erupt and scatter like a firework in the sky!

Call it magic milk, milk fireworks, color changing milk, or tie-dye milk. Whatever you name it, give this super easy process science/art activity a try!

The Science Behind Magic Milk

There are actually a few different things that are going with magic milk.

First, dish soap is disrupting the surface tension of the milk. Remember when we did our fun experiment with surface tension to see how many drops of water we could fit on different coins? Remember the cool little dome that water forms at its surface? All liquids, including milk, act this way. Adding soap disrupts those bonds along the surface, making the surface molecules spread out and the colors explode like fireworks!

Call it magic milk, milk fireworks, color changing milke, or tie-dye milk. Whatever you name it, give this super easy process science/art activity a try!

Second, soap is super interesting. One end of a soap molecule LOVES water (hydrophilic) while the other side HATES water and loves oil and fat (hydrophobic). Soap can get dishes and clothes clean because the hydrophobic end picks up the grease, oil, and dirt, while the hydrophilic end dissolves in water and washes all the dirty stuff away with it.

Milk, especially whole milk, contains fat and proteins. When soap is added to milk, the hydrophobic end of a soap molecule grabs onto a fat molecule in the milk. With millions of molecules finding a partner all at once, the mixture gets all stirred up! You will notice in my video that it looks like the milk is erupting for several seconds after dish soap is added. This is why. It truly is magic milk!

Call it magic milk, milk fireworks, color changing milk, or tie-dye milk. Whatever you name it, give this super easy process science/art activity a try!

You can easily turn this activity into an interesting science fair experiment by trying it out in different liquids. What happens when you try skim milk versus whole milk? How about something like cream that has lots more fat in it? What about water or vegetable oil? Record your findings and enjoy the process!

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By | 2017-03-30T22:19:15+00:00 February 28th, 2015|Art, Five Minute Science, Kitchen Science, Science, STEM Saturday|16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Suzie's Home Education Ideas March 1, 2015 at 5:45 am - Reply

    We love this experiment! We even tried it with butter milk which gave us a different result. Thanks for sharing on my facebook page.

    • Crystal March 2, 2015 at 1:22 am - Reply

      Ooh, buttermilk! I’ve only ever tried it with whole milk, but I’ve wanted to try with heavy cream or something super fatty. Thanks for the suggestion πŸ™‚

  2. asimplelifetoo.com March 3, 2015 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Hello. I saw you on GoodTipsTuesday. I have never seen this experiment before. Is it yours or did it come from your Useborn science book? I am going to follow your pinterest board for more ideas:-)

  3. Lina - Cookies and Cwtches March 3, 2015 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    I love this idea – so much fun and so colourful and best of all easy to do with things we usually have to hand! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  4. Eileen Teo March 4, 2015 at 12:28 am - Reply

    Love this activity! I meant to do it with my kids but never get the chance! Thank you for sharing it with us! #pintorials

  5. Coombe Mill March 4, 2015 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Your magic milk looks even more magic in the star shaped dish. #Pintorials

  6. Kalista Sabourin March 4, 2015 at 2:46 am - Reply

    This looks like a lot of fun! My five year old is all about science “experiments” these days and I’m quite certain he’ll get a kick out of this!

  7. Dhiyana March 4, 2015 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Looks more magical with glitter!

  8. otilia stocks March 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Oh i need to try this with my girls. bet they will love it!

  9. Susen Kuchta March 8, 2015 at 11:50 am - Reply

    so cool and so easy! Thanks for sharing at our FB Share Day!

  10. lindseyk March 10, 2015 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    This looks like a fab experiment to introduce little ones to scientific experiments πŸ™‚ #weloveweekends

  11. Helen @ Witty Hoots March 14, 2015 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Thank you for linking up with last weeks’s We Love Weekends! You have been featured on this week’s post via Witty Hoots! Hope to see you linking up again soon!

  12. Helen @ Witty Hoots March 14, 2015 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Thank you for linking up with last weeks’s We Love Weekends! You have been featured on this week’s post via Witty Hoots! Hope to see you linking up again soon!

  13. Candi June 3, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    In the photo I was pi ni g it looks like this is on paper. How does it get on the paper

    • Crystal July 9, 2017 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      It’s not on paper, it’s just a picture of the milk.

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