Milk + Soap = Awesome Reaction


Great fun for kids and adults! Minimal set up and clean up makes this at home science / art project a real winner.

When you're done reading this instructable feel free to check out more of my how-to, life hack and DIY videos and articles by visiting my YouTube channel or website.

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Schritt 1: Watch This Video!

Here you can see this awesome reaction happen right before your eyes!

Schritt 2: What You'll Need

The first thing you'll need is some milk. I've found that whole milk works best, but you can use any kind.

Food coloring will allow you to see what is actually happening and create beautiful swirls and patterns. Any kind, color or amount will work. Have fun experimenting!

To hold the milk, use a shallow bowl or a plate with raised edges.

Regular old dish soap is the way to go.

Finally some Q-tips to apply the soap with.

Schritt 3: Add the Milk

You won't need much at all. Just a thin layer of milk will do. Because so little milk is needed I poured mine into a plate with raised edges instead of a much deeper bowl.

Schritt 4: Prepare some soap

Pour some dish soap into a mug, glass or cup. As with the milk, you won't be needing much.

Schritt 5: Add Some Color

Now you can get down to the fun stuff! I started by adding four or five drops of purple, red, green and blue in the center of the plate. But as I stated in a previous step: you can use any colors you'd like. Have fun placing different numbers of drops in different areas of the plate to see what will happen.

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vivi12 sagt: Sep 8, 2014. 2:54 nachm.
this was really fun 4 me and instead I used gel food coloring but it still worked because I didn't have liquid food coloring so next time I need a science experiment then this is what I'm gonna do instead???????
xenobiologista sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 8:15 nachm.

I think if you used liquid watercolour paint or dyes you could use this for interesting effects on marbled paper.

cat1986 sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 7:56 nachm.
That is Beautiful this would be A Good Science Project
The+Best+Hobbies+Blog sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 9:54 vorm.

An explanation for the science has been added. Enjoy!

awallace916 sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 9:46 vorm.

The soap is changing the solution of the milk. The milk is mostly water but also contains proteins and fats. The characteristics of the soap cause the solution of milk (water, fats, and proteins) to break down. What you're seeing are the molecules of soap joining up with the molecules of fat in the milk. The food coloring just allows you to see the invisible molecules moving!

Another demonstration similar to this uses water, a cereal bowl, soap, and paperclips. The challenging part is to try to float a paperclip on the surface of the water. (It's pretty tricky...the secret is to move slowly and to use a second paper clip to lower it into the water parallel to the surface) Once you have it floating, take some soap and put a little on the end of a q-tip. Gently (and I mean GENTLY) touch the the edge of the water with the soapy q-tip and you should see the paperclip sink immediately (you could also just add a drop of soap straight to the water if you're careful). Once again the soap is causing changes to the water. Here it reduces surface tension of the water. Water has cohesive properties (meaning the molecules kind of stick together) but the soap reduces water's cohesiveness (it breaks down the hydrogen bonds in water molecules).

dustyhoffsky sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 11:59 vorm.

Thanks for the explanation.

cdevildevil sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 7:28 vorm.

I know that we could simply google the science behind this, but would you mind adding some explanation to your instructable? It would really make it complete.

Remag1234 sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 7:25 vorm.

Nice Video. And now for my comment to the Nit Pickers.

To the Nit Pickers: Why is a scientific explanation needed? Why not just enjoy the video, try it if you like it. Do your own research for the Science of it.

dustyhoffsky sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 11:55 vorm.

Because the title of the video is "Milk, Soap, Science", not "Milk, Soap, Pretty Colors".

Remag1234 sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 7:46 nachm.

What difference does it make, NO DIFFERENCE. Some people just cannot help being Nit Pickers. What happened to your post????????

mrcatsquid sagt: Aug 14, 2014. 5:19 vorm.

the dish soap spreads on the surface on milk (milk is thick enough to hold it) and pushes the food coloring aout of the way.

dustyhoffsky sagt: Aug 12, 2014. 6:26 nachm.

There is no science here. Science is about explanation of effects and I do not see any explanation of this effect.

EoinM17 sagt: Aug 13, 2014. 11:16 vorm.

I'll second that. Don't get me wrong, it's a great instructable and video but I'd prefer to know/learn why this reaction takes place instead of watching the pretty colours.

buck2217 sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 4:50 nachm.

I guess if you gently laid a piece of paper on the surface and lifted off you could get a "print" of them

Might look cool but would probably smell a bit when the milk went off

Verticees sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 4:42 nachm.

I remember doing something like this in third grade! Anyways, nice instructable, and that main picture is excellent!

johnstat000 sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 3:23 nachm.

Such a classic experiment that you have given new life! In all of my experiments with this combination, I found that Dawn dish soap works the best. Nice Job!

The+Best+Hobbies+Blog sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 3:34 nachm.

Thanks for the tip! I'll try it with dawn next time to see if I can get even better results.

Brooklyntonia sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 3:15 nachm.

I teach at an elementary school, and we used this as the basis for exploration at our math/science night. The kids loved it and I was surprised by it as well. Might also be good for exploring color mixing. Very fun!

The+Best+Hobbies+Blog sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 3:37 nachm.

Glad to hear you guys do this. I really would have enjoyed this in elementary school!

Danger+is+my+middle+name sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 3:14 nachm.

This is really cool!

The+Best+Hobbies+Blog sagt: Aug 11, 2014. 3:30 nachm.

Thank you! I had a lot of fun doing this one=]