Liquid stacking involves pouring fluids with different densities, one on top of the other, into a bottle to create a separate set of ingredients. You can easily create a liquid stack and get beautiful and impressive results. To do this, you simply have to gather the right ingredients, obtain the necessary tools, and use a good pulse to carefully pour the ingredients.
Method 1 of 2: Measure and Pour Liquids
Step 1. Find an empty 12-ounce bottle with a lid
Look for a clear, clean 12-ounce bottle. As long as it has a resealable lid, you can use it. If you want, you can use a larger bottle, but you will need to adjust the amounts of the ingredients so that the ratio between the bottle and the liquids remains the same.
Each ingredient should be ⅙ the size of the bottle. You should leave a small space at the top so that you can see the liquids separate again when you turn the bottle over.
Step 2. Dye ¼ cup (60 ml) of water and ¼ cup (60 ml) of alcohol for topical use with food coloring
Use 2 different cups for mixing, and pour the alcohol into one cup and the water into the other. Add 1 drop of food coloring to each cup and mix with a small spoon. You can use the colors you prefer, but avoid using the same color of the dish soap for the water, as this will be next to it in the bottle.
If you dye the water the same color as the dish soap, the layer between the soap and the water will not show
Step 3. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of dark corn syrup into the bottom of the bottle
Measure out the syrup and use a funnel to slowly pour it into the bottle. Try to keep the syrup from touching the sides of the bottle because residue can make it difficult to stack the next set of ingredients. Wait 3-4 minutes for the syrup to set.
You may need to wait longer for it to set if it touches the sides of the bottle as you pour it
Step 4. Wash the funnel with warm water and dry it
Dish soap should not be mixed with corn syrup, as you run the risk of the lower layers getting mixed up. To avoid this, wash the funnel with warm water and use a clean sponge to scrub it. Dry it with a paper towel or cloth before using it again.
Wash and dry the funnel after each use
Step 5. Tilt the bottle and pour in ¼ cup (60 ml) of liquid dish soap
Measure out the soap. Place the funnel in the mouth of the bottle and tilt it toward you so that the funnel is pointing to the side of the bottle, just above the corn syrup. Pour in the soap slowly and carefully. Avoid pouring it directly into the syrup. Wait 2-3 minutes for the soap to set.
- The soap needs to touch the side of the bottle first to maintain the viscosity on the surface of the syrup. If you pour it directly, the layers may not form.
- You will know that the soap has set when the bubbles stop moving.
Step 6. Carefully add ¼ cup (60 ml) of water on top of the dish soap
Wash and dry the funnel again with paper towels to remove soap residue. When the soap has settled into the bottle, slowly tilt it towards you and use the funnel or measuring cup to slowly pour the water out the side of the bottle. Wait 30 to 45 seconds for the water to settle.
Take your time when you pour the water. Keep in mind that it is much thinner than soap, so it will fall off more quickly
As you add the top layers, you should pour each liquid more carefully than the last. The upper layers of the liquid stack are less dense than the lower ones and have a greater tendency to mix if you pour them quickly.
Step 7. Drop ¼ cup (60 ml) of vegetable oil with a kitchen dropper
Use an eyedropper to absorb the vegetable oil. Hold the tip of the dropper 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) above the surface of the water. Slowly pour the vegetable oil over one side of the bottle and allow it to collect over the water. Keep pouring in the vegetable oil until the dropper is empty. Let it sit for 30 to 45 seconds.
When the bottle is more than half full, it will be difficult to tip it without the layers spilling out. If you have a larger bottle, you can keep tipping it. Otherwise, use the dropper
Step 8. Finish off the liquid stack with a ¼ cup (60 ml) layer of topical rubbing alcohol
Wash the dropper thoroughly with warm soapy water before filling it with the rubbing alcohol. Gently place it on the side of the bottle, 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm) above the oil layer. Pour it in slowly and wait 30 to 45 seconds for it to set.
- Put the cap on the bottle and close it.
- You will have 5 layers of differently colored liquids beautifully separated in the bottle!
Step 9. Turn the bottle upside down to see the liquids return to their position
With the bottle cap securely attached to the top of the bottle, slowly turn the bottle in your hand to turn it upside down. You will be able to see the various liquids return to their position in the original order in which you poured them. This will be a good trick to show off to your friends or as part of a density demonstration.
- It will only work if you do it slowly, and you will only be able to do it once or twice before the layers blend past the point where they separate.
- The pile of liquids will not last forever, so it is not recommended that you do it as a decorative object for your home.
Method 2 of 2: Try to make different variations of the project
Step 1. Do a simple version of the experiment with water and oil
You can create a basic version of this experiment using only water and vegetable oil to demonstrate the fundamental principles of density and viscosity. To stack oil and water, fill half a bottle or a clear bucket with water, and fill the rest with oil. Both liquids will separate on their own.
If you're just trying to show what density and viscosity are, you don't need to create 5 full layers. Use water and oil to make you understand easily
Step 2. Repeat the process with more layers of liquid to create a larger pile
You can create a version with 7 layers of liquids by using ⅕ cup (50 ml) of each ingredient and adding 2 additional layers. Start with honey instead of the corn syrup and finish with lamp oil on top of the alcohol.
In the 5-layer version of the project, you can use honey as a substitute for corn syrup if you don't have it on hand
Step 3. Skip the food coloring for a more subtle effect
Do the experiment without adding food coloring to the water and alcohol. This will create 2 completely transparent layers that will allow light to pass through and will make the colored sections stand out in a spectacular way.
- The same principles that apply here can be used with ingredients of different densities to create layered alcoholic beverages.
- If the liquids don't build up after settling, it may be because the corn syrup isn't thick enough. Try again, but this time add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the corn syrup.
- Use the liquid stack to present a simple science project. Stacking liquids demonstrates some important scientific concepts. In particular, it exemplifies how density allows different liquids of different masses to be sorted without using multiple containers. It also shows how important viscosity is in keeping the layers apart.
- Liquid stacking is also an interesting presentation. If you must present an experiment at school, creating a liquid pile is a very good idea because you will only need a few supplies and minimal effort.