Find More Science Experiments
- White T-Shirt
- Permanent Markers (Sharpies)
- Plastic Cup
- Rubber Band
- Rubbing Alcohol
Stretch part of the white t-shirt over the top of the plastic cup and secure it with the rubber band – it will look like a little drum. Choose one of the colors of Sharpie pen and make dots in the center of the t-shirt circle. Choose another color and make more dots. Repeat. The circle of color should be about the size of a quarter. Now slowly squeeze about 20 drops of rubbing alcohol into the center of the circle of dots. Drip the rubbing alcohol really slowly. What do you see happening to the ink? Let the ink dry for about 5 minutes and then you can move the cup to a different part of the shirt. When you are done making colorful circles put the shirt in the dryer for about 15 mintues to set the colors.
Sharpie pens are permanent markers. That means that the ink will not come off with water. If something will dissolve in water it is soluable. If something will NOT dissolve in water it is called hydrophobic. Permanent marker ink is hydrophobic. The permanent ink WILL dissolve in rubbing alcohol. That is why the colors “run” to make the pretty pattern.
Science Project Idea:
Try this method of tie dying with different kinds of markers and pens. Test whether the ink in the pens is soluable or hydrophobic. HINT: the word “washable” would be a clue to help you guess the answer to that question.
Here are some books and websites that will help you explore more about soluability and why sharpies and alcohol make such great 5 minute tie dye:
- Steve Spangler: Sharpie Pen Science
- Mess Free Tie Dye Shirts
- Instructables: Tie Dye Made With Sharpies
Words to Know:
Soluable – Able to dissolve in water.
Dissolve – When a solid comes apart and spreads out into a liquid…like kool aid in water.
Hydrophobic – Not able to dissolve in water.