Home » writing » #writemotivation » #WriteMotivation May 2012 has begun!

#WriteMotivation May 2012 has begun!

Bottled #WriteMotivation
Bottled #WriteMotivation

So, last Goal Check month, I attempted to offer bottled #WriteMotivation to people as a sort of gift/prize for meeting their goals. It turned into a science experiment I could share with my son. And then it turned into a headache trying to ship the items. Eventually, I gave up on the shipping part. I still have the bottles at the house. And I still want to make bottled #WriteMotivation. But I want to be able to ship them legally to people. The idea was to have two liquids that wouldn’t mix. One would be colored while the other remained clear. My first experiment, as you could guess, was oil and water. I wanted the color to sit on top of the clear to represent the saying “Let the inspiration rise to the top.” Mineral oil is about the clearest oil out there. You could use a very light olive oil as well. But I chose mineral oil. I began a quest to find a colorant to dye the oil. Food coloring was water based, therefore it would not mix with the oil at all. I found candy dye, bought a few jars and went home to work it out. I also purchased small glass bottles at the local craft store.

Red water, dyed with food coloring. Sitting overnight, bled into the oil.

Water (on bottom) dyed w/ red food coloring. It sat overnight and bled into the oil on top.

Experiment #1: The candy “dye” I used was distributed through glycerin and mixed rather well with the oil. Or so I thought. It was fine when we mixed it up. Complete separation. But when we returned to it the next morning, it had bled into the water.

Experiment #2:I dyed the water, and left the oil alone. The food coloring worked in the water nicely. But, again, sitting overnight caused the bleeding effect.

Experiment 3 and 4

Experiment 3 (Right) dyed mineral oil on bottom, alcohol on the top. Sitting over night, it still bled. Experiment 4  (Left) is dyed alcohol on top of  clear mineral oil sitting overnight. No bleeding. 

Experiment #3: I didn’t use any water this time. But I found that 90% isopropyl alcohol was less dense than the mineral oil, therefore it floated on the oil this time.  I used the candy dye again for the oil (despite the fact I wanted the color on the top, what they hey…I could always change the phrase to “Let the clarity come through”). Again, the oil colored nicely, but overnight, it bled into the alcohol, just like it had with the water. I was beginning to think something was up with the candy dye.

Experiment #4: I reversed it. This time, I colored the alcohol with food coloring and left the oil alone…thus going back to my original phrase “Let inspiration rise to the top.” After sitting overnight, we had success! No bleeding effect. I so so ecstatic. I finally found a successful method for bottling #WriteMotivation for everyone.

Or so I thought…

Each bottle contains less than 50ml of isopropyl alcohol and mineral oil. They were not very big containers. Maybe 4 or 5 inches tall. So, the next part of the experiment was packaging and shipping. Alcohol is highly flammable. According to USPS, these items, while not hazardous sitting at home on your shelves, become hazardous with drastic changes in pressure and temperatures. Alcohol is one of them. Therefore they will not ship them.

HAZMAT - Flammable LiquidOur next option was UPS. UPS told us, “Sure you can ship that, as long as it is properly packaged and labeled with the proper HAZMAT sticker.”
“Cool,”  we thought, “We can do this!” The bottle had to be double vacuum sealed in a Mylar bag. The box had to be filled with vermiculite. And the sticker had to be on the outside of the box. We already had a vacuum sealer. We bought the vermiculite from Home Depot, ordered the Mylar bags, and then the stickers. Then we thought, “Ok, so can we drop this off at any UPS store? I highly doubt it.” So we called them back.  That’s when their HAZMAT department had to get involved. According to them, we had to take a HAZMAT Class (at $4000) and we had to set up a shipping account with them. They just didn’t seem to understand that this was all under 50ml! No way we were doing this.

So we called FedEx. Their response was the same. But they mentioned that there was another option: finding a HAZMAT shipper. More finger walking in the virtual yellow pages and more phone calls. When we finally found a HAZMAT shipper, and they called us back, they would come to our house and pick it up and send it via ground….for $3000!


Again, no one seems to get that it’s under 50ml! Smaller than a bottle of perfume! Wow. This was such a headache! After all this experimentation and heartache, and the month nearly over, we finally gave up on shipping them. We could have driven to everyone’s house for cheaper than what everyone wanted to charge us to ship it! While that would have been awesome, time and money just are not on our side!

"Let the Inspiration Rise to the Top"

My son's bottle of inspiration

I really, REALLY, wanted to send these out to my #WriteMotivation pals for inspiration they can sit on their desks. But nooooo….DENIED! I’m sorry guys! Really sorry! If I could just find a way to “paint” the oil without the bleed effect into the water, we’d be golden! I could give these to everyone on the #WriteMotivation team, or even set up my own Etsy shop for anyone who wanted to buy bottled inspiration. 🙂

Whatever “dye” I used to color the oil bled. I need a non-bleeding “dye” for the oil.
I would need a liquid lighter/less dense than oil to “dye” (and doesn’t bleed) that is safe to ship!

What I’ve learned about science is so cool! You could use the liquid density test to make a 7 layer liquid density column (you can’t keep it, mind you). You can make your own kid-safe lava lamp. And you can also make your own wave machine. And my son loved the whole process. He has his own bottle of inspiration.

In my recent research I have learned some things about “dyeing”: dyes are water soluble. Aluminum Lakes are insoluble and tint through dispersion. These are generally used to tint oils and will prevent the bleed effect. Everything I have found on that is in the candy industry, though. I am still at a loss to know if the Aluminum Lakes would work when you have two types of liquids that will inevitably be agitated at one point or ten (because it really is so fun to shake the bottle up and watch it separate!)

So, until I can find a method to dye the top liquid without the bleed effect, AND not have it classified as HAZMAT, I cannot send these out as gifts or prizes. If anyone else out there that is a science freak more so than our family (or if you understand pigments, dyes, and solutions) and could possibly have an answer to this, I beg of you to share! I would LOVE to be able to send these to friends who need a little motivational kick from time to time!



  1. Ping from Goals For The Month of May – #WriteMotivation « WriteBackwards:

    […] week I did not post my goals for the month of May. Instead I tried to show you my enthusiasm for this endeavor and try to illicit a response to a dilemma I had with science. Unfortunately, no one more science-y than me has found an answer and posted […]

  2. Ping from Megan:

    What a great idea! I love it, I’ll have to try it out!

    • Ping from LadyJai:

      Let me know how it goes. It was fun. Just the whole shipping thing was such a nightmare. I still want to make it work! 😕

  3. Ping from Alison Stone:

    Your enthusiasm for this project is awesome. 😀

    • Ping from LadyJai:

      I started this with KT back when she dreamed it up on the last part of 2011. I whole heartedly believe in it. If it weren’t for this, and KT’s enthusiasm/motivation/encouragement, I’d still be cowering in the corner, hiding from the big ugly novel beast! :mrgreen:

  4. Ping from K.T. Hanna:

    *hugs* I loved this idea and was upset with how difficult it seemed to get it – and then the shipping! Kind of ridiculous!

    Still, maybe one day you’ll figure it out <3 If not, we still have cookies!

  5. Ping from Rebekah Loper:

    What about using glitter in the oil instead of dye? And then using water on the bottom? I imagine you’d have to SATURATE the glitter in oil to make sure it’s “waterproof”, but it might be worth a try 🙂

    • Ping from LadyJai:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Rebekah, but we did try the glitter. The problem with the glitter is it doesn’t remain suspended and will sink to the bottom. If you look closely at the purple and green ones…the purple one has glitter in it 🙂 It really did NOT work. 🙁

  6. Ping from Andrew Patterson:

    Wow! That is so cool! Love that idea. Will have to try it out with the boys. I bet the would love it. 😀

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