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By Ruth Barnard

With water, a drop of clear nail polish and black card you can create rainbow paper!

Find out how to make it and learn some interesting science facts...




What you need:

  • Shallow bowl or plate (preferably an old one in case it gets messy)

  • Water

  • Clear nail polish

  • Black card

  • Scissors

  • Paper towel

  • Recommended: tweezers or tongs to avoid putting your fingers into the nail polish film.


What to do:

1. Cut out a piece of black paper so that it will fit into your bowl or plate

2. Fill the bowl about 1inch high with water

3. Submerge you black paper into the water and let it float near the surface

4. Put three or four drops of clear nail polish into the water. Can you see a thin film form on the surface?

5. Position the paper to catch the film and quickly lift the paper out of the water, preferably with tweezers or tongs

6. Place the wet rainbow paper on a paper towel to dry and leave it in the sun to help the paper dry faster

7. When your paper is dry tilt your paper to see the shiny rainbow colours



You can also add the nail polish before you dip the paper in. This can be harder because you will be disturbing the surface that the film rests on, but see what works for you.


Get Scientific


Rainbows are beautiful and always seem a little bit magical, learn a bit more about them here...

Rainbow Paper

Nail polish spreads out on the surface of the water leaving a thin film. When light hits the film some of it bounces off the surface but other waves travel to the back of the film before bouncing back.

The rainbow colours are seen because the wave length of the light bouncing off the paper changes. It's a lot like how rainbows are formed through water, the light waves are bent and reflected revealing the different hues of light. You can try this experiment with different types of paper and nail polish too!

You can try this experiment with different types of paper and nail polish too!

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