Science Experiments - How to Make Litmus Paper

How To:

Turn Red Cabbage

Into Litmus Paper

The litmus paper that is used in schools and in chemical labs is colored by lichens, plants that are combination's of algae and fungi. But here we are going to make an Acid Base Indicator From Cabbage Leaves, and this is a really easy and useful science experiment.

Indicators are substances whose color changes in acids and bases. Litmus is a common indicator that is removed from plants.

An acid is a substance that has lost an electron. A substance that is capable of neutralizing an acid is called a base or alkali. In an acid Litmus is pink in color. In a base, litmus is blue.

Kids Science Experiments
Kids Science Experiments

New Oxford American Dictionary Definition of:

litmus |ˈlitməs|

noun
a dye obtained from certain lichens that is red under acid conditions and blue under alkaline conditions.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old Norse lit-mosi, from litr ‘dye’ + mosi ‘moss.’

litmus paper

noun
paper stained with litmus, used to indicate the acidity or alkalinity of a substance.

Material You Will Need

To Make Litmus Paper

  • 1/2 Head Red Cabbage
  • Pot to Boil Cabbage
  • a rectangle glass dish
  • Paper Towels
  • Rubber Gloves

cabbage for litmus paper
cabbage for litmus paper

Paper Towel Strips

used to create Litmus Paper
used to create Litmus Paper

How To Make Litmus Paper

  1. Chop half a head of red cabbage into small pieces and add it to a pan with about a cup of water. Boil the cabbage uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, let it cool, and strain the juice into a jar or bowl
  2. Cut strips from the paper towels about an inch wide and a couple inches long.
  3. Take the paper towels and soak them in the cabbage juice for about a minute. Remove them and let them dry on something that won’t stain. (Its a good idea to wear rubber gloves while doing this)
  4. Let the paper strips dry and as soon as they are dry your Litmus paper is ready to start experimenting!

Colors from Experimenting with Litmus Paper

Interesting to Note

Next time when you see a "red" cabbage at the store, notice that it is actually purple. When you submerge it in tap water, it will appears blue. Yet when you add it to coleslaw, it will take on a red color. This is because the cabbage contains a pigment that functions as a natural pH indicator. Tap water is slightly basic, causing it to turn blue. Vinegar in coleslaw is a dilute form of acetic acid, which makes the cabbage turn red.

Ideas for Experiments

Try dipping the paper into orange juice, soapy water, lemon juice, baking soda in water, baking powder in water, vinegar, and anything else you want to test. It is a good idea to keep notes on what changes you observed.

Acids and Bases

Solutions are often seperated into two classes, acids and bases. Strong acids and strong bases must always be handled with caution. Sulfuric acid is a strong acid that can "eat away" metals and other substances. Lye (sodium hydroxide) is a strongbase that may be used as a cleanser.

Weaker acids like lemon juice and weaker bases like soap are more stable and less dangerous.

Science Experiments With Lemons

The 60daychallenge Icon

from the hub of theblackedition - Increase-Readership-And-Revenue-The-Hubpages-60-Day-Challenge
from the hub of theblackedition - Increase-Readership-And-Revenue-The-Hubpages-60-Day-Challenge

More by this Author


Comments on How To Make Litmus Paper 18 comments

Lynda Gary profile image

Lynda Gary 6 years ago

Really interesting! I hope you share your URL with the big homeschooling sites, so they can find it!


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Lynda - thanks for the visit and especially the tip on sharing this one with some homeschooling sites :)


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 6 years ago from USA or America

Hey Shari, I liked this one the most of the science hubs. I found it be quite interesting and did not know that cabbage reacted in that manner. If I did learned, apparently did not retain it. LOL! :) Thank you very much.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Cags . . how you warm my heart! I think this is one of the cooler science projects you can do . I am loving this series almost as much as football!


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 6 years ago from USA or America

Well, anything worth doing is worth doing well and you've done certainly that. Nicely done. :)


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Cags - Thanks :)))))))


thevoice profile image

thevoice 6 years ago from carthage ill

Great great hub thanks


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

the voice - anytime! Thanks for the visit and the thumbs up!


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

Well done wavegirl! Another clever hub that will probably change the minds of our young scientists future! Excellent! :)


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Thanks Shaz for the vote of approval. It has been years since I did these experiments with my bnow college age daughter. .but I have little nieces that have really been enjoing helping me recreate them! Thanks to the 60Dc they are really having fun!


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Shari another great science experiment for the kids - this one looks like lots of fun. I know I learnt something new about science and red cabbage!


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

billy - thanks for the uplifting comments :) Interesting the wonders you can learn from inside the fridge. Stay tuned theres more fun science experiments to come . . How old are your boys????


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

4 and 6 Shari


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

oooh the cutest ages! You just have to do some of these experiments. . I will think of those ages for the next ones .. ah how I miss that age. . my daughter is going to be 21 !!!!!!


Mr. D's Teacher Resource Website Matthew De Gasperi 6 years ago

It seems that cabbage is a cheap litmus paper. This experiment is useful for a variety of ages. Thanks for sharing this Hub.


kids-toy-box profile image

kids-toy-box 6 years ago

Awesoem! I loved this experiment. Did you know that Hydrangeas can be considered natures litmus paper..they change colors depending on the PH of the soil they are in.


navena_s 5 years ago

nice thank you


lillianrose1234 profile image

lillianrose1234 4 years ago

thank u i needed this info for an experement this really helps :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    60daychallenge

    Click to Rate This Article
    working