Properties of Matter

DIY Chromatography

Enrichment Activity for 5-11 11-14

What you need

  • Kitchen towels
  • Water
  • Non-permanent coloured felt tip pens


  1. Draw a dot in the centre of the kitchen towel with a felt tip pen. Black works well, but you can experiment with other colours
  2. Add a few drops of water to the dot

Results and Explanation

As the water spreads through the tissue, the coloured pigments that make up the ink separate out.

The differently coloured pigments are made up of different-sized molecules. This means that the water can carry them different distances across the paper.


Have a Physics Teaching Question?

Want to ask it in a safe, friendly, knowledgeable environment? TalkPhysics is an online community for anyone involved in the teaching of pre-19 physics.

Visit TalkPhysics