Oily Ice

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In this activity, learners experiment with the density of ice, water, and oil. Learners will discover that the density of a liquid determines whether it will float above or sink below another liquid. Learners will be surprised to find that ice floats and water sinks in oil, even though ice and water are made of the same thing. Learners will also examine the hydrophilic properties of water and the hydrophobic nature of oil. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 clear plastic cup
  • 1 bottle of dark food coloring
  • 1 ice tray
  • water


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Mission Science Workshop


  • All rights reserved, Mission Science Workshop, 2013

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