Do you know what happens when you add food coloring to ice and table salt?

salt, colors, ice

Not only do you get a beautiful bowl of colored, fast melting ice; but you can experience iridescence if you use the right pigment. I’m not going to tell you which pigment causes this effect. You’ll have to try all of them to see for yourself. Of course, you can kind of tell in the pictures below, but try it and see if you are right.

red, blue, purple

you need:
table salt
primary food colors
neon food colors- if you can only get one pack, get the neon
*I HIGHLY suggest using both types of food coloring, it’s the best way to discover the pigment that causes the iridescence


to do:
1. fill a bowl with ice
2. sprinkle (or pour, try different amounts) table salt onto the ice
3. add drops of food coloring onto the salt
4. you get instant results with some of the colors, no results with some, and have to be a little patient with one color

salt then color

colors of ice

 Here are some great links to explain what exactly is going on in this experiment and ways to understand what causes color:
1. SciScape 
2. Causes of Color -LOVE this site! Explains color really well.

purple neon

Don’t dump the ice when you are done, let the ice melt down and see what happens to the iridescence. Enjoy!

bowl of ice


  • September 21, 2010 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing it was great!:)MJ

  • August 30, 2010 - 12:56 am | Permalink

    We’re going to give this a go tomorrow. So excited!

  • March 31, 2010 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Great Idea… I need to wait a couple more years until my kids grow out of the toddler stage and I am so doing this… looks like a great photo opportunity…

  • Pingback: Iridescent colored ice « My Life with Moxie

  • February 15, 2010 - 10:29 am | Permalink

    Very cute idea!

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  • February 4, 2010 - 9:10 pm | Permalink

    How funny! We had that exact same project during the preschool science workshop right after story time at our public library this week! The girls adored it.

    As a rule, I loathe those sorts of group hands-on kinds of workshops with preschoolers. It always seems like me and the girls trucking along minding our own business, surrounded by every other parent in the universe loudly over-explaining and micromanaging their kids work. Barf.

  • February 4, 2010 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Another project we need to try!

    It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, so maybe we’ll do both snow and ice and compare!

    Thanks for all the great ideas!

  • February 4, 2010 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    my son will love this, thanks! your pictures are beautiful.

  • February 4, 2010 - 12:02 am | Permalink

    Whoa… this is SO pretty! The cubes look like jewels. I love it. Thanks so much, I’ll be linking.

  • February 3, 2010 - 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Looks fantastic and fun. Not sure we can get that type of food coloring in Denmark. The ones I use are organic natural colors, which probably won’t work…. but I’m sure the kids would like to try anyway – playing scientist is always fun :)

  • February 3, 2010 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    How fun! My kids would LOVE this!!!

  • February 3, 2010 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    This is really cool! What fun. We will have to try this too! Haven’t come across neon food colouring here. Will have to track some down.

  • February 3, 2010 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    I love this we will do it today and let you know how it goes :)

  • February 2, 2010 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

    what a GREAT idea!!!! the kids would LOVE this!!! wished i would have caught this while we still had snow….it NEVER snows in our area of TN and we got a nice dumping this last weekend!

  • February 2, 2010 - 11:22 am | Permalink

    Lisa, this is so neat. My boys are sitting here looking at this with me, and are jumping up and down begging to do it. I have all the ingredients in the pantry, and we are off to try it. Thank you for sharing this, it looks like a very fun way to learn.

  • February 2, 2010 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    so cool. So, what’s the reaction?

  • February 2, 2010 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    that’s crazy! who knew? love this, and my kids will too. Thanks!

  • February 2, 2010 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    This looks irresistibly fun! Beth

  • February 2, 2010 - 6:00 am | Permalink

    So… am I behind the times that I didn’t even know they made neon food coloring? This is a great activity. Even if I didn’t have grandbabies to try it with, I’d want to give it a go. Thanks for sharing this activity and an inspirational blog. I love it :) I’ll be linking on Facebook.

  • February 2, 2010 - 12:09 am | Permalink

    Coolest ever! I love all that colour!

  • February 1, 2010 - 4:48 pm | Permalink

    This looks fantastic. My 8 year old boy is soooo into science experiments at the moment. We currently have crystals forming in jars on our kitchen counter ! I’ll have to go get some food coloring and give this a try ! He and his sister will LOVE it !

  • February 1, 2010 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh, it looks so beautiful like colorful gems! My oldest son would love this! Thank you for sharing such wonderful activities Lisa!

  • February 1, 2010 - 7:21 am | Permalink

    Brrrrrrrrrrr; those are cool colours!!

  • February 1, 2010 - 2:09 am | Permalink

    I so want to do this!

  • February 1, 2010 - 12:24 am | Permalink

    I love coming here and seeing the coolest homeschooling activities. This looks really exciting. I need to find bigger food coloring containers. I only can find the small ones, and they go too quick!


  • January 31, 2010 - 8:59 pm | Permalink

    We totally aped your project but with snow almost as soon as you posted it. :) Thanks, Lisa!

    • January 31, 2010 - 10:02 pm | Permalink

      ohhhh, good idea using snow!

      • January 31, 2010 - 10:38 pm | Permalink

        It took a bit of time for the salt and coloring to soak into the snow but it was beautiful when it did and the kids love it. ;)

  • January 31, 2010 - 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Have I told you I think you are brilliant? I really do. And forget Isaac…my husband wants to do this. Family fun is on the way. Thank you.

  • January 31, 2010 - 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I’ve come begging your permission to list it in the science fair…

    • January 31, 2010 - 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Of course you may Stephanie! ;)

      • February 1, 2010 - 9:45 am | Permalink

        I actually saw this last night before you responded on olm, and put it in right away. Evidently I was in too much of a hurry and couldn’t stop to say ‘Thank you’! :/
        So thanks, Lis! :)

  • January 31, 2010 - 7:54 pm | Permalink

    That looks like fun! I’m adding it to the list of chemistry experiments we will do in the 2010-2011 school year. Thanks!

  • January 31, 2010 - 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Is it okay if I grab a pic and link to this post in my post next for next Friday?

  • January 31, 2010 - 7:13 pm | Permalink

    love this experiment- we’re doing it this weekend!

  • January 31, 2010 - 5:20 pm | Permalink

    What a cool science project. My kids would love this! I’ll have to pick up some neon food coloring next time I’m at the store. Thanks!

  • January 31, 2010 - 4:44 pm | Permalink

    :) This makes me happy.

  • January 31, 2010 - 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Love this idea! Thanks for the great links too :0)

  • Robin
    January 31, 2010 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I love these pictures Lisa!!!

  • January 31, 2010 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    This looks awesome. It reminds me of Cassi the other night shining a red light through ice. We intend to collect more ice and try different lights through it. I’ll let you know how it goes. :)

  • January 31, 2010 - 2:25 pm | Permalink

    My four year old is fascinated with ice anyway but this idea will make her rather ecstatic I think. Thankyou!

  • January 31, 2010 - 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Wow, those are so great. I must try it! Beautiful photos.

  • January 31, 2010 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Awesome!! We’ll be doing this one for sure in our kitchen science lab at the Frog Princess’ birthday party in March. Thanks! : )

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