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    Home / Science projects / Chromatography Project + Video
    • Chromatography Project + Video

      Chromatography Project + Video

      Inks and dyes are generally made up of a mixture of different colors. Chromatography is a process that lets you separate ink into its individual colors. Check out our video below to see it in action.

      What You Need:

      • Filter paper (paper towels or coffee filters will work too, but filter paper is best)
      • Black marker or felt-tip pens, highlighters (non primary colors)
      • Food coloring
      • Several drinking glasses
      • Several pencils

      What You Do:

      1. Cut several strips of filter paper about a half-inch wide. Draw a big dot about a half-inch from the bottom of one of the strips with one of the markers or pens you want to test. Do the same thing on different strips for each pen you want to test.
      2. Tape the strip to a pencil so that when the pencil rests across the cup the strip will hang down into the cup.
      3. Pour water into each cup until it is just barely touching the bottom of the paper strip. Leave the strip hanging in the water until the color has traveled most of the way up the strip.

      chromatography separates purple food coloring into reds, pinks, and blues

      What Happened:

      As the water creeps up the absorbent paper, it carries the color with it. Some components of the ink travel farther than others, causing the different colors to spread out so you can see them. How many colors do you see? Do the different brands of pens have different colors?

      Many dyes are also made up of multiple colors. Try a chromatography experiment with some food coloring. Place a drop of food coloring in some water and hang a filter paper strip so it just barely touches the water. Does it separate into colors? Try mixing more than one color of food coloring and then see if you can separate them again with chromatography.

      You can also do chromatography with permanent pens and markers; you'll just need to use a different solvent, since those inks don't dissolve in water. Try isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or nail polish remover.

      Get our Chromatography Experiment Kit for all the materials you need for fun chromatography projects.

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    By: aqeelah laloo
    Date: May 24, 2016

    thanx for showing me how to separate colour pigments from markers

    By: John Edwards
    Date: Jan 28, 2016

    The issue I have with sites that offer experiments to do at home is that the experiments don’t help kids to learn how to do science.  They’re just recipes or demos.  No attempt to teach the methodology of science and no opportunity to use measurement and number.  It’s as though those who create these ‘resources’ have never spent any time in a typical school science class.

    By: mohit macharla.
    Date: Oct 25, 2015

    perfect for our college project.

    By: Shruti Sinha
    Date: Jun 13, 2015

    It was really good, especially the video-although the colours don’t all travel up; some do remain at the bottom. It could be more helpful if there was a proper explanation as to what happened, why it happened, conclusions, etc.

    By: adaeshia
    Date: Jun 11, 2015

    thank you for breaking it down it is great for a project

    By: Harrison edwards
    Date: Mar 30, 2015

    Its a good experiment for school as we are learning about chromatography.

    By: arpan
    Date: Mar 27, 2015

    very usefull

    By: pushpinder
    Date: Mar 18, 2015

    this project is wonderful

    By: Dominic Akpan
    Date: Mar 11, 2015

    The project has widen my understanding. Thanks.

    By: luci
    Date: Jan 05, 2015

    thanx this was helpful