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Museum at Home: Oily Fireworks

Fireworks are usually in the sky, but Science Educator Becky Wolfe and her daughter MJ demonstrate how you can make super-safe fireworks  in a jar!  


  • Water
  • Oil
  • Food coloring
  • Tall jar
  • Cup
  • Fork

Materials for the Oily Fireworks experiment with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis


  1. Fill the jar with warm water.
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a cup and add a couple of drops of food coloring.
  3. Stir the oil and food coloring together with a fork to break up the food coloring drops into smaller drops.
  4. Pour the oil mixture into the jar of water and watch!
  5. The food coloring will slowly sink out of the oil and into the water, expanding as they fall.

What's going on:

Food color dissolves in water, but not in oil. Did you notice when you stirred the food coloring and oil together that you could break up the droplets but that they would not mix into the oil?

Because oil is less dense than water, the oil will float to the top of the glass. As the color drops break away from the oil they sink to the bottom.

Share your creation by using the hashtag #TCMatHome on social media!

This experiment is adapted from an article in Action Pack eMagazine for Kids.