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Olympic Ring Colors Chemistry Demonstration

Make the Colors of the Olympic Rings

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Use chemistry to turn chemical solutions the colors of the Olympic Rings.

Use chemistry to turn chemical solutions the colors of the Olympic Rings.

Anne Helmenstine
Produce the colors of the Olympic rings in this easy chemistry color change demonstration. The colors of the Olympic Rings represent the colors of the flags of all the countries that participated in the 1912 Olympic Games. The Olympic Rings are blue, black, red, yellow, and green on a white background.

You can perform a chemistry demonstration in which you fill empty glasses, arranged like the Olympic Rings, with "water". Once the clear liquid is added to the glasses, the colors of the Olympic Rings will appear.

Olympic Ring Materials

You need a container of 5 grams ferric ammonium sulfate in 500 milliliters of water. In separate glasses, dissolve about half a gram of the following solids in a few milliliters of water:
  • red - potassium thiocyanate
  • white - barium chloride
  • blue - potassium ferrocyanide
  • black - tannic acid
  • green - tartaric acid
  • yellow (amber) - sodium hydrogen sulfite

Perform the Olympic Rings Chem Demo

Arrange the glasses to form the order of the Olympic Rings. Try to use as small a volume as possible to dissolve the solids so the glasses will appear empty. Pour the ferric ammonium sulfate into the glasses and watch the colors develop!
  • red - thiocyanate ion forms a deep red complex with iron(III)
  • white - barium ion reacts with the sulfate ion to form a cloudy white precipitate
  • blue - ferrocyanide ion with iron(III) produces a deep blue compound
  • black - tannic acid with iron(III) forms a black complex
  • green - tartaric acid with iron(III) forms a greenish complex
  • yellow (amber) - hydrogen sulfite ion with iron(III) produces an amber compound

Patriotic Colors Chemistry Demonstration

You can prepare a patriotic color demonstration for your country's flag. For example, in the US, you'd use the chemicals to make red, white and blue. If you live in Brazil, prepare the chemicals to make green, yellow and blue.

More Olympics Science Projects

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