How to Simulate Weather Fronts

Easy Activity With Ingredients in Your Kitchen

Warm and cold fronts sit at the boundary between warm and cold air.

Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images

Weather fronts are a part of our everyday weather, and you can easily understand what they are with this visual demo. Using blue water (cool air) and red water (warm air), you will see the ways in which frontal boundaries (areas where warm and cold air meet, but mix very little) are formed between two different air masses

What You'll Need

  • 2 identical baby food jars (no lids needed)
  • plastic coated heavy paper or an index card
  • blue food coloring
  • red food coloring
  • water
  • 2 measuring cups with pour spouts
  • spoon
  • paper towels

Experiment Directions

  1. Fill a measuring cup with warm water (from the tap is fine) and add a few drops of red food coloring so that the water is just dark enough to clearly see the color. 
  2. Fill the second measuring cup with cold water from a faucet and add a few drops of blue food coloring.
  3. Stir each mixture to evenly disperse the coloring.
  4. Cover a tabletop with towels or plastic to protect the surface. Have paper towels handy in the event of a spill or leak.
  5. Inspect the top of each baby food jar to ensure there are no cracks or chips in the tops. Place one jar upside down on the other jar to ensure that they are an exact match. (If the jars are not meeting exactly, you will end up with water everywhere.)
  6. Now that you have inspected both jars, fill the first jar with cool water until it is almost overflowing. Fill the second jar with the warm water until is almost overflowing. Make sure your warm water jar is easy to touch and not too hot.
  7. Place the index card or plastic-coated paper on the top of the warm water jar and press down around the edges of the jar to make a seal. Keeping your hand flat on the paper, slowly turn over the jar until it is upside down. Do not remove your hand. This step may take a little practice and some spilling of water is normal.
  8. Move the warm water jar over top the cold water jar so that the edges meet up. The paper will act as a boundary between the layers.
  9. Slowly remove the paper once the jars are stacked on each other. Pull gently while keeping your hands on the two jars. Once the paper is fully removed, you will have a front. Now let’s see what happens when the two jars are moved.
  10. Keeping one hand on each jar, lift the two joined jars and slowly turn the jars to one side while holding the center together. (To protect against accidents and broken glass, do this over a sink or protected area.) Remember, the jars are not sealed together in any way, so you have to hold them together carefully.
  11. Now, watch as you see the blue water (colder and denser) slide underneath the warmer water. This is the same thing that happens to air! You have just created a model weather front!

Tips and Tricks

No special precautions are needed to complete this experiment. Please be aware that this can become a very messy experiment if the jars get knocked over and some of the colored water spills. Protect your clothing and surfaces from the food coloring with smocks or aprons as stains may be permanent.

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Your Citation
Oblack, Rachelle. "How to Simulate Weather Fronts." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Oblack, Rachelle. (2023, April 5). How to Simulate Weather Fronts. Retrieved from Oblack, Rachelle. "How to Simulate Weather Fronts." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).