Are Black Markers Really Black? (Chromatography Fun)

Good evening scientists! We just finished up another investigation. Try finding out if your favorite black marker is really black with your little scientist. The results might surprise you.


Are Black Markers Really Black (5)

Washable Black Marker(s) (We used Crayola, and plan on getting some more brands to test)

Coffee Filters




Glass/Cup with clear side


  1. Draw a line across the middle of a coffee filter with a washable black marker (any brand).Are Black Markers Really Black (27)
  2. Cut the coffee filter into a long rectangle shape so that your line is about halfway through.Are Black Markers Really Black (32)
  3. Tape the Coffee Filter strip onto the middle of a straw.Are Black Markers Really Black (33)
  4. Fill your cup with water so that when you place the filter into the cup the water is about an inch or two away.Are Black Markers Really Black (36)
  5. Watch what happens to the black line when the water hits it.Are Black Markers Really Black (91)

Talking Points

In this investigation we found out the black washable markers are created using other colors. Our experiment used a technique called chromatography, Chromatography is a technique used to separate a solution, in our case the black washable markers. The Visible Light Spectrum are the colors of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. White is created when all of the colors are reflected (bounced back) at once. Black is created from the absorption (taking in) or absence of all the colors. 

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