We have been really getting into science experiments lately, specifically ice-involved experiments! We did this easy and exciting experiment to test the density of ice as it melts.

Ice Melting - Cool Science


  • Clear cup (tall and skinny is best)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Baby Oil
  • Food Coloring
  • Ice Cubes

I found this experiment on Steve Spangler Science. (They have a ton of great ideas and I could spend about a thousand dollars in their online store.) We gathered up the supplies and read the directions.

First, we added a few drops of food coloring to the cup. We used only one color, but I think using different colors might be interesting.

Then we poured in about a cup of corn oil and then about a cup of baby oil. The amount is totally up to you and the dimensions of your cup. The kid can pour the vegetable oil, but pour the baby oil SLOWLY. Tilt the cup to the side as you pour so there’s a gentle stream of liquid. If you pour it fast, the oils will mix together and it will take forever for them to separate.

The last step is dropping in the ice cube. The ice will be suspended between the two oils. Here’s you opportunity to talk about the differences in density of the oils and ice.

Because the temperature of the oil is below freezing, your ice starts to melt. This happens all the time when you have a drink with ice cubes in it, but this experiment lets you actually see it.

My son was pretty excited. He was so cute clicking away with the camera.

The drops of water gather up like glass beads on the bottom and absorb the food coloring. As time passes, the water beads also start to merge.

Learn about States of Matter and Density with this Ice Melt Experiment

We watched until the whole thing was gone. I was curious about what would happen if we stuck it in the freezer, so we made a hypothesis and tried it out.

A few hours in the freezer and the water had frozen and was once again suspended between the two oils.

My son was interested in testing more. He poured a bit of oil in some bowls and tested how the colored water behaved when dropped into the oil.

More Experimening with Oil and Water

This was a great experiment that opens up a lot of discussion and new ideas and questions to test.

I have been seeing instructions for a homemade Lava Lamp on Pinterest. I think I want to make one! Oh for the kids, of course. Ha.


What are your favorite science experiments? What should we try next?


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