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Drawing colours from black ink using basic ‘chromatography’

Suitable For

Grade 5



Time Required

 <24 Hours



What’s it about?

You have probably learnt in art class that by mixing various paint colours together, completely new colours can be made. For example, by mixing together yellow and blue paint, a green colour can be obtained and to get a orange coloured paint, red and yellow paint can be mixed together.

Similarly various colours of ink can also be mixed together to form new ink colours and this is often used to obtain a specific colour for ink bottles, calligraphy pens and felt tipped pens. In the following experiment let’s see which colours are used to make up black ink.

Topics covered

Calligraphy, Paper Chromatography, Capillary action

What will I need?

  • CARD

Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

The water (solvent) moves up the paper by capillary action, which occurs as a result of the attraction of the water molecules to the paper. As the water rises through the paper it meets and dissolves the ink, which will then travel up the paper with the water solute sample. Different compounds in the sample mixture (the ink) travel at different rates due to competition between the paper fibres and water for the solutes.

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