How to a Make Oil and Water Sensory Bottles


We really went crazy with sensory bottles over spring break.  They are so easy to make, and the results are astonishing.  Today I’m going to show you how to make 2 different oil and water sensory bottles.  

Oil and water sensory bottles

Instructions for 2 easy to make oil and water sensory bottles.

If oil and water sensory bottles aren’t your thing, check out our Dice Sensory Bottle or our Glow in the Dark Perler Bead Sensory Bottle.  

Supplies Needed For Oil and Water Sensory Bottles

  • 1 cup of Water
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) of baby oil
  • Smooth surface water bottle (we used a Voss water bottle)
  • Food coloring
  • Oil based food coloring for candy  (we used Wilton’s brand)
  • Glitter

Regular food coloring will not color the baby oil.  That’s why you need the candy food coloring.   It’s oil based. If you don’t have candy food coloring at home you can choose not to color the baby oil. Or if you want to buy it, the candy food coloring isn’t hard to find. In fact, we got ours at Michael’s.  

Instructions for Oil and Water Sensory Bottle

This is another super easy project.   You can have it done in about 2 minutes.  That’s one of the reason’s it was perfect for me to do with my kids.   2 minutes is about all they can stand of each other without bickering.  They themselves are currently like oil and water, they don’t mix.  

I even used the old “oil and water don’t mix” metaphor when we made these sensory bottles.  Paige got I cup of oil,  and I told her she was like the oil.   I then gave a cup of water to Carter and said he was the water.  I asked them what they thought would happen when we poured them into the water bottle. They, of course, knew that oil and water didn’t mix.   

I told them that just like the oil and the water they were each made up differently, and they had completely different personalities.  

They laughed at my analogy.  And then I said, “oil and water may not mix, but I bet they can still make something beautiful.”    So we made something beautiful.  

Yeah, it was a small teaching moment.  But I digress.  Let’s make these oil and water sensory bottles.  

Fill one measuring up with 1 cup of water.  Add a couple of drops of food coloring

Next fill another measuring up with 1 cup, 8 ounces, of baby oil.   Add some of the candy food coloring.  If you’ve never used this type of food coloring, a little goes a long way.   We actually had to do this sensory bottle twice because Paige got a little overzealous with the coloring and it leached into the water.  

Another thing worth noting, it’s better to use the lighter of the colors you choose to dye the oil.  Again, you don’t want the coloring to spread to the water.   

Confession: The first time we tried this, the kids decided they wanted to do blue and yellow.   Paige picked the blue for her oil, and Wonder Boy wanted to do yellow.  Paige loved the blue color and really wanted to use a lot of it.  Whoa, a lot!  Within an hour after mixing the oil and water in the bottle the yellow water was no longer yellow.  It was a deep blue-green, almost the same color as the blue oil.  We threw the whole thing away and re-rolled it with yellow for the oil, and blue for the water.   The results were awesome.  

All that’s left to do now is mix the two.  This is an over the sink thing.  Even though the oil and water were in measuring cups with spouts I wasn’t going to take any chances with a countertop full of oil and water.  Voss water bottle have pretty big openings so the kids each poured their’s in.   If I had bottle with a smaller opening, I might consider using a funnel.  Either way, just pour one in then the other.   

colored oil and water sensory bottle

I love how the oil and water stay completely separated until the bottle is shaken.

The magic starts to happen when they are poured, but you can then put the lid on, and shake your oil and water bottle like crazy to see what happens.  

If you plan on giving this to someone quite small to play with, consider gluing the bottle closed.   I can’t imagine the mess if a toddler spilled it every where.

Second Version of Oil and Water Sensory Bottle

Way back at the beginning of this post I promised you 2 oil and water sensory bottles.  The second one is almost exactly the same as the first but we added one additional ingredient. GLITTER!! 

Glitter always makes everything better, don’t ya think?  I do!

I wasn’t sure exactly what the addition of the glitter would do to the sensory bottle, but I thought one of two things would happen.  Either all the glitter would eventually sink to the bottom or the glitter would settle between the oil and the water.  Our results were somewhere in between.

Oil and water sensory bottle

You can see the bits of glitter that just never seem to float to the bottom.

For this bottle we chose to make the oil blue and the water a deep indigo.   This time Paige was in charge of the water so she, again, went crazy with the food coloring and combined blue and purple until it was really dark.   You can, of course, choose any two colors.

To make this you’ll start by following the same instructions above:   

  1. Color one cup of water with regular food coloring
  2. Color one cup of baby oil with candy food coloring  

Then when you are ready to combine the two:

  1. Add the oil to the empty water bottle.
  2. Next, add a ton of glitter.
  3. Add the water to the water bottle.
  4. Screw on the lid.  

As soon as you pour the water in you’ll notice that it picks up some of the glitter and drags it down with it in a glob.   It was cool looking and got some “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from the kids.  

Galaxy sensory bottle.

With it’s deep indigo color the sensory bottle looks like a galaxy.

We shook that bad boy up and set it down then waited for the oil and water to separate.   I’ve got to be honest, at first I didn’t think it was going to separate.  It took a long time, but it was a happy glittery mess.  

Glitter Sensory Bottle

This photo was taken about 10 minutes after shaking. The glitter is still floating in the water.

It eventually did separate, but the glitter didn’t all go to the top or bottom.  The extra fine glitter settled in the middle and the bigger glitter settled somewhere in the bottom half of the bottle.

It’s really hard to describe, but I will say you NEED to try this.   It’s really cool.  I wish the pictures did it justice.  The closest thing I can compare it to would be a galaxy in a bottle.  

So there you have it two different oil and water sensory bottles.   Give them a try to see what kind of results you can get.  Then tell me all about it in the comments.   I’d love to hear how yours came out.  

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