Oil and water floating experiment

Make oil and coloured water layers. Optional: float beads between the layers.
Science content
Chemistry: States of Matter, Properties of Materials (K-7)
Lessons activity is in
  • veg oil in container
  • water in tube to add to container
  • food colouring, few drops
  • beads (rock, plastic and wooden)

Tube of oil. Students add water and food colouring. Shake and observe layers.
The oil and water separate. The food colouring may bead up, then eventually separate.
Optional: add beads - wooden (floats on oil), plastic (floats at oil/water interface), rock (sinks).

Also try adding a couple of drops of food colouring to oil and tip the container to watch how it moves in the oil.


The plastic beads tend to stick to the side of a plastic container after a while, so do not remain floating between layers.

Make many more layers:…

Grades taught
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3