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How To Make a Patriotic Density Column

Red, White, and Blue Layered Liquids

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This red, white and blue density column is easy to make.

This red, white and blue density column is easy to make.

Anne Helmenstine

This is a fun chemistry-type decoration for July 4th or any time you want a colorful demonstration of density layers. Use different colored lamp oils and food colors for other holidays. Adult supervision is required.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Mix red food coloring into the corn syrup until the desired color is attained.
  2. Slowly pour equal quantities of the colored corn syrup, lamp oil, and milk (in any order) into a clear column or plastic cup. Hint: You get minimal mixing by slowly pouring each liquid over the back of a disposable plastic spoon.
  3. Enjoy! The most dense liquid is at the bottom of the cup and the least dense liquid is near the top. Did you correctly predict the order of the colors? You can watch a video of this project, too.

Tips:

  1. Use different colored lamp oil and food coloring for other holidays.
  2. Lamp oil/kerosene is toxic, so keep your column out of the reach of children or pets.
  3. Fuel kerosene often comes in a red color, so if this is what you have available, you could use fuel oil with blue-dyed corn syrup and milk.

What You Need:

  • Milk
  • Blue kerosene lamp oil
  • Light corn syrup
  • Food coloring
  • Clear column or cup

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