Density Rainbows

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In this activity, learners explore the concept of density by pouring 5 different liquids into a jar. Food coloring is added if needed to give each liquid a distinct color. Due to the different densities of the liquids, they will settle in separate layers, resulting in a glassed filled with a colorful rainbow. Includes step-by-step instructions (with a recommended pouring order), setup photos, and an explanation of the science behind the activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 pack of food coloring
  • 5 different liquids (Suggested liquids: dish soap, honey, vegetable oil, water, rubbing alcohol; or try whatever you have on hand. Safety note: Do not use harmful chemicals or other cleaning agents besides dish soap.)
  • 5 small cups or containers
  • 1 clear 8-oz cup or glass


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


Components that are part of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Virtual Science Fair


  • All rights reserved, Buffalo Museum of Science, 2021