Skittles Chromatography Activity

Skittles Chromatography Activity
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Rain, Rain go away! When you have had a few days of rain, all you can do is sing that song while staring out the window. We have had our share of nasty weather this week…too nasty to go outside at all kind of weather. As we wait for a glimpse of sunshine, we decided to create our very on rainbow from inside the house. This of course is not any ordinary rainbow. It is the one that you can taste. Yep, you got it…..a rainbow created from the one and only, Skittles. This fun activity takes a bright colored candy and gives it an educational twist, just what we needed to get through the rest of this dreary day.

Chromatography is the method of separating a mixture into its different components at different rates. The speed of each component is dependent upon how it is made. For example, a ‘heavier’ component would move at a slower rate than the ‘lighter’ components. These components will also present themselves staggered. Every time I hear the word chromatography, I picture a crazy-haired scientist surrounded by Bunsen burners, beakers, and other chemistry glassware. This is of course is far from the truth, but fun to imagine 🙂

Let us get started! In this fun-filled activity, we will be using skittles as our mixture.

The only items you need are:


plate (I used paper for easier cleanup)

measuring glass


That’s it! I placed a small bowl in front of each of my kids (there was no way they would be able to cooperate with one bowl of skittles). I told them to choose whatever color pattern they wanted…rainbow pattern, red/orange, etc. The only thing they had to make sure of was to arrange the skittles in a single circle around the outside edge of the plate. Once the kids completed arranging the skittles around the plate, I warmed up about 1 cup of water in the microwave (will use about 1/2 cup per plate).

Depending on your child you may or may not let them pour the water. You will pour about 1/2 cup in the very center of the plate. Basically, enough water to reach every skittle with the plate laying flat on the table (not tilted). As the water reaches each skittle, you will begin to see chromatography in action. The colors from the skittles will begin to disperse towards the center of the plate, not mixing. My kids thought it was the coolest thing! One of the main reasons for this is due to ‘weight’ of the color of the skittle. Each color ‘weighs’ differently, making the colors appear to line up against each other rather than mixing. Of course there is more scientific reasonings behind this phenomena, but no need to go into that much depth for this fun activity. The colors will eventually mix in the middle as they all start to settle.

I hope your little scientist enjoys this activity as much as mine…I know they will definitely enjoy ‘tasting’ the rainbow!


1) Arrange skittles in a single circular pattern around a plate (plate must be on a flat surface)

2) Warm up about 1/2 cup of water per plate (I used a measuring glass; heated water up in microwave)

3) Pour water into the center of the plate, until water reaches each skittle

4) Watch and observe as the colors disperse across the plate!

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