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Rainbow Icicles

Explore nature’s natural winter decoration – icicles! How are they made? Learn about icicles by making your own and adding your own colourful spin on them!

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  • What supplies do you need for this activity?
  • How do icicles form?
  • How will you form your icicles?
  • How will you stay safe in this activity?


  • First you need to make something that holds water, but leaks – maybe a tin can or a disposable water bottle?
  • Start by using the nail to punch holes around the top of your tin-can or bottle. Add a string so that you’re able to hang your “icicle maker.”
  • Then, using a thumbtack or pin, make a small hole in the bottom of each can or bottle. Add to the experiment and make holes of different sizes to test what happens!
  • On a cold night (cold enough to freeze the water), take your cans outside and fill them half full of water.
  • Add your food coloring for rainbow tinted icicles.
  • Finally, hang each icicle-making can on a tree branch and let it go to work.
  • Make sure that they are hanging in a safe area (for example, not where people, animals, etc. will be walking!)
  • In the morning, check on your rainbow icicles!


  • Did the size of the hole in the bottom of the can make any difference in the size of your icicles?
  • What happens to your icicles during the day?
  • What was your favourite part of this activity?


  • Tin can (cleaned and with the label removed) or disposable water bottle
  • Pin or thumbtack
  • Food colouring
  • String (thicker than thread but thinner than a shoelace)
  • Water
  • Epsom salts (indoor version)
  • Paper clips (indoor version)

Keep it Simple

  • Not cold enough to make icicles outdoors? Make “icicles” indoors by using string, paper clips, warm water, and the key ingredient – Epsom salts! Watch your “icicles” form over a few days.

Take it Further

  • Instead of hanging your “icicle makers” from tree branch, try lashing your own tower or structure to then hang your icicles from. This way, you’re challenging your Scout Craft skills at the same time!