This activity has been provided by STEAMfest sponsor MEL Science!”
Take a small sheet of thick paper which can fit in a beaker. Make three dots on the paper with markers: black, blue, and a mixture of colors (black + blue). To make the dots on the same level, draw a starting line with a pencil first. Now lower the paper in the beaker with ethanol, about half a centimeter from the bottom. Then seal the beaker, so the ethanol doesn’t evaporate. After half an hour, observe the movement and separation of colors on the paper.
Chromatography is a method for analyzing substances by their separation into components. The method was discovered by Mikhail Tsvet, who separated color pigments of plants. In our experiment, we must select the solvent which is contained in the markers. This is usually ethanol.
Due to the capillary effect, the ethanol soaks the paper evenly, taking the dyes with it. The dyes in the mixture react differently with the alcohol, so they rise at different speeds.
- Describe your results and optionally share a picture.
- Try using different colors. Are the results similar or different?
- Does the type of paper make in the results?
Earn badges and qualify for prize drawing by registering and answering journal questions. It's fun and easy!
Want to learn more about chromatography then check out this video: