Home Connections: Demystifying Mixturesby: Kathleen Damonte

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The subject of chemistry makes most people think of an elaborate laboratory, but investigating chemistry concepts does not require expensive equipment or chemicals. You can perform some of the same tests scientists do using materials in your home. One topic chemists study is mixtures and the substances that make them up. In this activity you will use a process called chromatography to find out what makes up a mixture you use often: black ink.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:01 AM

This short basic article describes how to do a simple chromatography experiment. The directions are clear and concise. The author used pens and markers, but also suggested using M&M's (a new one on me!).

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Sun May 15, 2011 7:59 PM

While student quickly learn to identify heterogeneous mixtures, homogeneous mixtures create challenges; they just do not look like more than one component. In this simple paper chromatography experiment children can immediately see that pen inks can be separated into several components. Personally, I have found Rose Art water soluble markers to perform well. I often let students experiment with several colors. Various flavors of Kool Aid also work well in this experiment. I love this experiment and have been using it for years.


  • on Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:19 PM

This is a very simple activity that students can do at home with their parents. Using everyday items such as coffee filters students perform a simple paper chromatography activity to demonstrate that the black pigment in water based pens colors are actually composed of many different colored inks. Questions and extensions are provided.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

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