Create cool graffiti-style socks using science!

You will need:

  • plain white socks
  • permanent markers in different colours
  • rubbing alcohol (70% IPA)
  • cup
  • pipette or cotton bud
  • iron – get an adult to help you


  • Draw on one side of each sock, using the permanent markers. Use dots, stripes, words, pictures, whatever you like!
  • Pick up some rubbing alcohol with the pipette or cotton bud. Put a drop of the rubbing alcohol onto an area of drawing and watch the colour spread. Continue to pipette drops onto different areas.
  • Keep going like this until the socks are completely covered in rubbing alcohol. The colours should spread and merge!
  • Leave your socks for ten minutes to allow the colours to spread through to the other side, then add a bit more rubbing alcohol if needed.
  • Leave to dry
  • Get an adult to iron the socks on the hottest setting suitable for them, to seal in the colour.
  • Wear your socks and impress your friends!

The Science Bit:

Chromatography is the science of separating different colours, usually in ink, using a solvent. Felt-tip pen colours are actually made up of lots of different coloured inks, and we can separate these out. With washable felt-tips, the solvent is water, and with the permanent pens in this experiment, the solvent is alcohol. Different colours travel at different rates through a material such as paper or fabric, and so we can see which inks are hidden in our colours as they move and spread.   Once you’ve ironed your socks on the hottest suitable setting, they’ll be ready to wear and wash at 30 degrees!

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