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Kool-Aid Chromatography


Cultured Algae


In StemBox's June box, steminists will explore the scientific concept of chromatography by separating the colors in grape Kool-Aid. Check out our videos below to see how it's done, answer any protocol questions, or for cool ideas on what you can do next at home!

Experiment Instructional Videos

Research Chromatography On The Web!

  • Candy Chromatography by Scientific American

    What's better than learning a cool scientific technique? Learning it with CANDY! Check out our favorite Science Magazine's take on chromatography using candy.
    Click here to learn more!

    Chromatography on CSI

    Many scientists cite CSI as the show that got them into STEM. It's no wonder why, check out this clip of forensic scientists using chromatography to solve one of the show's mysteries. (Don't worry, this clip is G rated!)
    Watch the clip!

    PBS Kids Papertowel Chromatography

    Now that you've mastered StemBox's Kool-Aid chromatography experiment, you can check out some at home paper towel chromatography. This experiment doesn't require much, but still makes a big impact.
    Check it out!

  • Who is Mikhail Tsvet?

    Ever wondered about the scientists who discovered some of these colossal techniques? At Stembox we sure do! Mikhail Tsvet is the scientist credited with the invention of chromatography as we know it today. You'll never guess how he came up with it!
    Learn More

    Using Chromatography At A Crime Scene

    If that CSI video peaked your interest in forensic science, then this experiment is for you. Learn how to differentiate the ink used at a crime scene, a ransom note, or from your secret admirer using chromatography. This could come in handy sometime!
    Watch the Video

    Chromatography Butterflies

    If crime scenes aren't your scene, but cute butterflies are StemBox highly recommends this creative experiment that puts the A in STEAM! Use science to create a work of art unique as butterfly wings' themselves.
    Get crafty!

  • Principles of Chromatography by Khan Academy

    For the inquisitive mind, understanding the science behind a technique is of the utmost importance. Chromatography is no exception! Khan academy is one of the most comprehensive free online education portals. If blackboard learning is your style, Khan academy can be a huge help!
    Learn More

    Chromatography Flowers

    In honor of the upcoming summer season, StemBox encourages our steminists to get crafty and create their own flowers using chromatography. Make a bouquet, a head wreath, or plant these in your indoor garden! Flowers that stay beautiful all year long.
    Click here!

    More Color Chromatography by the Exploratorium

    Still can't get enough chromatography?! Totally reasonable, it's a pretty cool technique. Check out the Exploratorium's take on chromatograpy experiments. Another fun experiment that utilizes many at home reagents!
    Find the experiment here!

Get this box

The last day to sign up for the Kool-Aid Chromatography Box was June 10th.

Sign up in time for next month's box!


Steminists in action!

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Troubleshooting the
Kool-Aid Chromatography Box

No worries, your filter should still work if you follow these steps. Remove the filter from your syringe. Use your syringe to pull up 10mL of 70% isopropyl alchol. Re-attach the filter at the correct end to the syringe and expel all 10mL of the isopropyl alcohol through the filter into a waste receptacle. You will likely need to do this 1-2 times before being able to restart your experiment.

Though most drug and grocery stores should carry 70% isopropyl alcohol in their first aid department, there's a chance of accidentally purchasing the wrong concentration. No worries! The math to make your dilutions is simple. Using the following equation, you can make any concentration using a certain stock percentage if it is higher than 70%. Whatever your starting concentration is, 70% for example, this is concentration #1. Decide how much of your new concentration you want to create, in our case we will say 50mL, this is volume #2. Now to choose the desired concentration to make, for example 25%, this number is now concentration #2. Using the C1V1=C2V2 formula for dilutions the rearranging of the equation can tell us what volume of concentration #1 to add to our tube. It looks like this: V1=(C2*V2)/C1 or V1=(25%*50mL)/70% which gives us about 17.8mL of 70% isopropyl alcohol to add to our 50mL conical tube. You can then fill the remaining 50mL with water (50mL-17.8mL=32.2mL of water).

This experiment requires the use of isopropyl alcohol. Children should always be supervised while performing this experiment given the hazrds associated with isopropanol. It is extremely flammable so be sure to keep this experiment away from open flames or sparks. Always wear the required safety glasses and gloves when performing this experiment. If the isopropanol comes into contact with the eye be sure to flush with water for 5-10minutes. Though it will not injure the eye, it is still quite paingful. If swallowed be sure to follow instructions on the bottle for proper procedure. If you're interested in reading more about isopropanol safety you can check out the MSDS page here.

To achieve purer color separation, it may help to do several runs of each isopropanol concentration through the filter at the appropriate steps. For instance if you want to achieve a pure red, you may choose to run 5% isopropanol through the filter twice instead of once. When filtering blue from the Kool-Aid, doing 2 runs or more of 10mL of 25% isopropanol through the filter should do the trick.

If your StemBox is missing pieces or you're having other issues, email us!
[email protected]
We are happy to help and will do our best to send you a replacement piece asap!