Making Layered Liquids | Fizzics Education


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Making Layered Liquids

Making Layered Liquids

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You Will Need:

  • 50mL Vegetable oil
  • 50mL Glycerol or Glucose syrup
  • 50mL Water, coloured with food colouring.
  • Shaving cream
  • Clear Plastic container
  • Beads, marbles and foam


Making Layered Liquids Science experiment - setup_materials
1 Making Layered Liquids Science experiment - adding glycerol

Pour the glycerol (or corn syrup) into the bottom of the plastic container. Try not to touch the sides.

2 Making Layered Liquids Science experiment - adding vegetable oil

Carefully pour the oil down the side of the container. There should be two distinct layers.

3 Making Layered Liquids Science experiment - adding water

Now carefully pour the water down the side of the container. Where did this layer end up floating?

4 Making Layered Liquids Science experiment - adding marbles

Carefully place the beads (etc.) onto the surface of your layered liquid. Where do they float? Why?

5 Making Layered Liquids Science experiment - adding shaving cream

Add some shaving cream on the top!

6 Pouring a dirty water mixture in a clear plastic cup into another clear plastic cup that has a simple paper filter across its top (held in place by a rubber band)

Get the Unit of Work on Mixtures here!

  • How can we separate mixtures?
  • What are the different techniques?
  • From chromatography to magnetism, join us to explore the variety of ways we can separate mixtures!

Includes cross-curricular teaching ideas, student quizzes, a sample marking rubric, scope & sequences & more

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7 LN2 sprinkler by Holly SciFest Africa Grahamstown March 2015
8 Teacher showing how to do an experiment outside to a group of kids.

Online courses for teachers & parents

– Help students learn how science really works

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Why Does This Happen:

Each liquid has a different density, meaning that although the volume is the same, the mass of each liquid is different.

Density = Mass / Volume.

The higher the density, the more compact the substance is, e.g. Iron is denser than water.

  • The corn syrup is much denser than water, so the water floats above it.
  • The water is more than the oil but less dense than the corn syrup, so it floats in between the oil and corn syrup.
  • Finally, the shaving is the least dense of all the materials… so it sits above the three liquids.

Actual densities

Corn Syrup = 1.37g/ml
Water = 1.00g/ml
Oil = 0.91g/ml
Shaving cream = approximately 0.80g/ml

Questions to ask students:

  • Is the vegetable oil more or less dense than the water?
  • Why do some objects sink and others float?

Weird Fact: The planet Saturn is less dense than water. A big enough ocean could make it float!
Solid water (ice) floats because it is less dense than water as a liquid. Very unusual for a chemical.

Variables to test

More on variables here

  • Try adding different liquids to produce an even great array of stacked colours.
  • What happens if you add sugar or salt to the solution?
  • What happens if you add cold vs. warm liquids into the mix?
  • What happens if you shine a spotlight at the side of the density column?

A man with a glove above a liquid nitrogen vapour cloud

Learn more!


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