Fun Science: Chromatography Butterflies

Looking for some spring themed science for kids? You’ll definitely want to explore chromatography using coffee filters and markers. The results from this science experiment can even be used to create a colorful butterfly craft for kids! Check out our post on how to make beautiful butterflies using science!

Most kids are used to mixing colours with paints or play dough, but have your children had the chance to try separating colour mixtures? In this science experiment for kids we’ll be exploring chromatography (separating mixtures). We’ll use coffee filters to separate the various pigments in markers to see how each color was created!

For this experiment you will need non-permanent markers, white coffee filters, a pencil, cups of water, black pipe cleaners, string and a pair of scissors.

pensFirst of all you will need to choose one marker to experiment with. (Hint: black and brown are the most exciting!)

You then need to take one coffee filter and put it on a newspaper or some kind of material to protect your table.

Next you will need to draw a thick circle around the center of the coffee filter where the ridged part meets the flat center. Use a pencil to write the colour of the marker being used right in the center.

(You’ll want to know what the original color was being  used, and the pencil won’t smear and will remain intact after the experiment.)


Draw and label


You then need to fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again to create a cone shape.


Get your glass of water and pull apart the cone shaped coffee filter so it balances right on the glass with the tip of the cone just touching the water. (Be sure NOT to let the marker circle go in the water, just the uncolored tip of the coffee filter cone.)




Sit patiently and watch what happens as the water begins to flow up the paper.

Try the same experiment with different coloured markers to get different results. After the water has reached the outer edge of the coffee filter, place it on a newspaper to dry.

Leave to dry...

Leave to dry…


To make the butterflies:

Scrunch up the filter once it has dried.

You then need to tie the pipe cleaner around the center of the filter and tie a piece of string to the pipe cleaner so that you can hang your butteries up around the house.






Tie pipe cleaners…









Beautiful butterflies

Beautiful Butterflies