Colourful Milk Fireworks Experiment

Aug 12, 2015

Today, we’re making a fireworks display in a dish! Rolling waves of colour burst and swirl continuously when you combine just a few simple kitchen ingredients.

Create a fascinating explosion of colour with this classic childhood science experiment that introduces the concept of surface tension.

You might remember this classic science experiment from your own childhood. It’s one of those activities that never fails to impress—it doesn’t matter how old you are or how many times you watch it, it’s mesmerizing every single time.

You'll need a few basic household supplies to conduct your experiment. 

You Will Need:

  • a shallow dish or saucer
  • a few tablespoons of milk (2% or whole milk works best)
  • food colouring
  • a drop of dish soap
  • cotton swab

Food colouring, dish soap and other supplies needed for the milk fireworks experiment.


When we do this experiement in my daycare, I like to place everything on the floor so toddlers can gather around and really see what’s happening.

If you’re in a classroom or working with older children, you can use a table top. You might want to protect the table with a tea towel or some newspaper in case there’s a spill.

1. Pour a few tablespoons of milk into a shallow dish or saucer. You’ll need just enough to cover the bottom of your saucer.

2. Have your child squeeze a few drops of food colouring close together in the dish. The colours should be very close together or just touching each other to get the best effects from the experiment.

Four drops of food colouring in a saucer of milk.

3. Drizzle a generous drop of dish soap onto the end of the cotton swab.

4. To create your amazing explosion of colour, press the cotton swab into the milk where the drops of food colouring interect.

Food colouring swirls in a saucer of milk.

Bam! Pow! Zing! Watch those fireworks explode!

5. Hold your cotton swab in place, slightly tipping it back and forth to create new explosions. You can pull the swab out of the milk and push it down in another area of the dish to create new fireworks as well.

6. As the fireworks slow down, feel free to add a little more soap to your cotton swab to see if you can keep them going!  How long can you make the experiment last?

Big food colouring

We usually continue for several minutes until all of the colours are well-mixed.

Then we pour out our milk, give the saucer a rinse and do it all over again!

I really hope you’ll try the milk fireworks experiment at home or in your classroom this year! It’s super-easy, but so awesome. Your children and students will remember it always!

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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