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Try This Simple Home Chemistry Experiment

This article appeared in the 5/24/19 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Try This Simple Home Chemistry Experiment

Baking soda and vinegar reaction. Photo by Katerha

Try This Simple Home Chemistry Experiment


By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise



This is a fun, new experiment we tried recently at one of our weekend birthday parties.  It is a simple experiment and uses several, common ingredients found in a kitchen pantry.  


Equipment you will need: a heating source (stove), pot or kettle, large bowl, clear container, spoon, a pitcher or another bowl (optional).


Ingredients you will need: a head of red cabbage, water, white vinegar, baking soda.


Have an adult boil some water.  We used a full tea kettle for boiling, but you only need enough for half or more of the cabbage to be submerged.  When water is boiling, place the red cabbage head in a separate bowl and carefully pour the boiling water over it.  Let soak for 30 -45 minutes.  After the cabbage has soaked, remove the cabbage and strain liquid if needed.  You can pour the liquid into another pitcher or bowl if you wish.  We poured it into a pitcher and cooled overnight, but you can let it cool as is if you want.


When the water is cooled you will notice it has a blueish color to it.  I poured it into a clear container so the entire group could see the experiment while I had it on a table.  I poured a little white vinegar into the container and it changed color! The solution was now red!


Next, I added two spoonfuls of baking soda to the container.  The baking soda and vinegar fizzled a little, but when it had settled, the solution had changed color again!  The solution was now purple!


How is this happening? The cabbage water acts as an indicator for how acidic or basic the liquid is.  When I added the vinegar, the liquid became more acidic and changed to a red color, just like a pH strip would.  When I added the baking soda, the liquid became basic and changed to a purple hue, a pH strip would have turned blue.


There are several variations to this experiment online, this was just the one we used.  Have fun testing this at home and ask for an adult’s help boiling water and pouring it.  I would suggest having some paper under your container as I had the experiment spill over when I added the baking soda.  Most importantly, have fun doing science at home!


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