When the atoms in different kinds of molecules come together they can form a chemical bond. This happens when some of the electrons from each kind of atom have an attraction to each other so they stick together. In this experiment you will be able to see a chemical bond. Dye made from kool aid and vinegar will make a bond, or “stick” to the fabric of a cotton t-shirt.
Some chemical bonds are strong and the two substances really stick to each other. Some chemical bonds are weak. The chemical bond between kool-aid/vinegar and the t-shirt is weak. The vinegar added to the kool-aid is called a mordant. A mordant is a substance that helps dye stick to fabric. The kool-aid/vinegar dye will make a weak chemical bond so your shirt will fade over time. The chemical bond in a permanent dye is strong – shirts dyed with this kind of dye stay bright for a long time. After you practice with kool-aid, THEN try a more permanent dye.
NOTE: Even though the kool-aid/vinegar dye is weak…you should still do this OUTSIDE! The kool-aid/vinegar dye will stay on your fingers and especially your fingernails for a day or so unless you wash them really good. (So…it would also stay for awhile on your clothes or the carpet in your house!) My dog licked the bowl of blue kool-aid/vinegar dye and it turned her tongue blue. She also splashed some on her foot. The next day her tongue was not blue anymore put the fur on her paw was!
- T-shirt/Sock/Towel – Anything Made From Cotton
- Kool Aid Packets
- Several Bowls
- Measuring Cups
- Rubber Bands
Science Experiment Idea: Try dying three identical shirts with kool aid using different amounts of vinegar. Which mixture made the darkest color? Which mixture lasted the longest? To investigate chemical reactions further – try some more experiments at home!
Websites, Activities, Printables:
- Try Science Kool Colors Experiment: Kool Aid Tie Dye
- Steve Spangler: The Science of Tie Dye
- Scientific American: Making Tie Dye T-shirts
- More Kool Aid Tie Dye Recipes
- Khan Academy: Chemical Bonds
Science in Context: Chemical Bonds is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. The Science in Context database will show you articles, images and videos to help you learn about chemical bonds.
You can also ask a math and science expert for homework help by calling the Ask Rose Homework Hotline. They provide FREE math and science homework help to Indiana students in grades 6-12.
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