Sharpie Tie Dye Science Experiment

The image above is a close up of the experiment that my son and I did using sharpies, rubbing alcohol and fabric. I had seen this science/art experiment circulating around the internet and thought that we would give it a whirl.

Materials used:
  • plastic cup
  • white cotton fabric
  • scissors
  • rubber band
  • sharpies (all different colors)
  • rubbing alcohol
  • eye dropper

First we cut out a piece of cotton fabric, wider than the opening of the plastic cup we were using. Then secured it over the top of the cup by using a rubber band and pulling it taut. We drew circles in the fabric of all different colors with our sharpies.

Then took turns dripping rubbing alcohol onto the fabric with an eye dropper.

It was cool to see the colors from the ink spread out through the fabric. We noticed that some inks spread better than others, namely the yellows and the blues.

Lessons my son learned by doing this:
  • Sharpies are called "permanent" markers because they are water- "insoluble", which means water will not dissolve the ink or make it bleed. 
  • Sharpie ink, however, is "soluble" in rubbing alcohol aka - it will dissolve in rubbing alcohol.
  • Solvent is the substance that dissolves the this case, rubbing alcohol is the solvent, however, in many cases water can be the solvent, like with watercolors.
This was a fun activity. As I am just about to post this, I found a similar activity just posted that I'd like to refer you to, as it sounds super fun too, and fitting for this time of is doing virtually this same thing but on Easter Eggs! Head over to Housing a Forest and check out their post! Enjoy!
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  1. I have to remember to try this with my little guys. I think they would love it!

  2. Oh, fun!!! I think we might try this to decorate cloth napkins. My kids LOVE when I give them the privilege of using a Sharpie so I know they will love the materials and the magic with this project.


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