Are black inks all the same? This experiment will allow you determine what colors are combined to make black ink in some common water based markers.
What you need:
- Coffee filters or paper towels
- Various colors of water soluble markers
- Various brands of black water soluble markers
- Pipettes or medicine droppers
- Plastic cups
What to do:
- On a coffee filter or paper towel, draw a circle with the black marker of your choice.
- Place your paper on top of an empty plastic cup.
- Using the pipette, drop water, by droplets, onto your paper in the center of the circle you drew with black marker.
- Slowly add drops of water until the water starts to “bleed” through the black circle. What appears to be happening?
- Repeat this with the other brands of black markers. Are there any differences?
- Repeat steps 1-4 again using the colored markers. With which colors do you see multiple color bands appearing in the water run? With which colors do you see no other color bands? Can you use this method to blend colors?
What’s the science?
The word Chromatography comes from the Greek words for color (Chromato) and writing (graphy). It is a method of separating mixtures using a solid support plus a liquid solvent. In every kind of chromatography, a mixture separates because some of its components stick better to the solid so they stay behind. These components have a strong affinity or attraction for the solid. Other parts of the mixture dissolve in the solution that wicks into or across the solid.
The end result is that you see bands of color that separate out on the solid support. When using colored markers, this “color-writing” or chromatography process allows you to determine what inks are mixed together to make a particular color of marker.