Everyone loves colors, but how many people knew there are multiple "colors" within your average black?
Chromatography is the separation of a mixture into its many pieces. While professionals chemists often use this process, we can explore our colored markers right here, and have fun seeing how markers are created!
Why do the colors run up the paper?
The short explanation : The maker is made up of many different colors that blend together like paint to create one color. The water likes the ink, so it takes it on an adventure up the paper, but some inks get lost along the way.
The long explanation : The colors go up the paper and separate mostly due to intermolecular forces, or differing attraction between the molecules in the marker ink. Black ink, and many others, are often made up of many different ink molecules. Molecules are tiny pieces of the thing you are seeing. There are many molecules of H20 in water that add together to make the water you can see! There's also many different ink molecules within a marker. When you put the paper in the water, the water was attracted to the paper, so it was able to stick to the paper, and climb up it. Then when the water reached the ink of the marker, it was attracted to that too, and pulled that up the paper. Because the inks are different, some of them were easier to pull up the paper than others, and the inks easiest to carry got to the top the quickest. The easier to carry inks are sometimes the lightest inks, and sometimes the most "sticky" inks (they are more attracted to water and the paper).
Then why don't we see all of the colors within the markers when we use them? Because the ink molecules are so small, they blend together normally, and they look like the one main color (like how it's hard to see a friend's individual hairs from far away, but when you pull a hair strand away you can see that they are all separate pieces).
Chromatography is actually used quite often by scientists, especially chemists and materials scientists, as they study how different chemicals interact with each other. They use this test in their laboratories to study the chemicals and sometimes to identify them. If seeing which molecules are heavier or more sticky is interesting to you, you could be a scientist!
*image not ours, all image credit to https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/f6/87/4b/f6874b644e5170226a7946b7903cb255.jpg
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