Chromatography is a wonderful and colourful experiment! Download the worksheet here


  • Kitchen Roll
  • Felt tip pens
  • a glass/jar with half a cm of water


  1. Take a square of kitchen roll (or coffee filter paper) and fold it in half, and then in half again to form a smaller square.
  2. Unfold the kitchen roll and colour in a 2cm (diameter) circle in the centre using felt tip colouring pens.
  3. Refold your kitchen roll in half and half again. Now fold the mini square into a triangle – i.e. fold in half diagonally.
  4. Fill a small glass with about half a cm of water. Place the pointed coloured tip into the glass of water.
  5. Wait for a few minutes and record what happens
  6. When the water has reached the top of your kitchen roll, take it out of the water, open it up and let it dry. Can you see that your coloured ink has split into many different colours?
  7. Try using different colours (including black) and record your result
  8. Try using two colours to create pretty patterns!


When you put the kitchen roll in the water it absorbs the water which then rises upwards. As the water touches the coloured ink, the ink dissolves and is able to move with the water. Your ink is actually made of lots of different colours, and each dissolves slightly differently. The colours will move fast if they dissolve well, and slow if they don’t dissolve well. This separates the colours, and creates the pretty patterns.

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