Cabbage Juice pH Indicator Solutions


Acids and Bases: Cabbage Juice pH Indicator


Liquids all around us have either acidic or basic (alkaline) properties. For example, acids taste sour; while, bases taste bitter and feel slippery. However, both strong acids and strong bases can be very dangerous and burn your skin, so it is important to be very careful when using such chemicals. In order to measure how acidic or basic a liquid is one must use the pH scale as illustrated below:…/ ph-scale.gif

In this lab, students will use the juice from red cabbage as a pH indicator to test common household liquids and determine their pH levels. You will mix cabbage juice with different household liquids and see a color change produced by a pigment called flavin (an anthocyanin) in red cabbage. Through this color change, you will be able to successfully identify the approximate pH of common household liquids using the table below:

Strength increases at extremes of this scale.

Cutting the cabbage:

  1. Cut ¼ of a cabbage into thin strips like shown below:




  1. Place the cut cabbage into a Ziploc bag. Note: Keep the red cabbage refrigerated.



  • Pre-cut cabbage
  • Blender
  • Strainer
  • Large container
  • 1liter beaker
  • 7 plastic cups
  • 7 plastic spoons
  • Lemon soda
  • White vinegar
  • Apple juice
  • Baking soda
  • Shampoo (preferably clear)
  • Conditioner (preferably clear)
  • Hand sanitizer

Pre-Lab Questions

Look at each of the liquids being tested. Predict whether each of the substances is acidic, neutral or basic. Circle one. (Think about the properties of acids and bases.)

Part 1: Preparing the Cabbage Juice

Preparing the Cabbage Juice:

  1. Put the red cabbage leaves into the blender with 800mL of water.
  2. Close the top and let it blend at high power for 30 seconds.
  3. Once it is blended, filter out the leaves inside the mixture with the strainer and pour the mixture into a large container.

*This should provide you with 600-800 ml of cabbage juice.

Part 2: Mixing the Cabbage Juice

  1. Label each cup with each of the liquids. (Example: vinegar, apple juice, etc.)
  2. Pour 100 ml of each individual liquid into its respective cup (except for baking soda).
  3. For baking soda, add 3 tablespoons of baking soda into 100 ml water.


  1. Pour 50 ml of cabbage juice into each of the cups. Do this one at a time and record the color change below:

Now look up the actual pH of each of the substances and see how accurate the cabbage juice indicator was!

How did your reasoning for your predictions change after seeing the approximate pH level?

Does the color intensity of the liquid change? If so, how and why do you think this is?

Concept Questions:

  1. Does the addition of water (baking soda + water) alter the pH of weak acids/bases? How does it change the pH of strong acids/bases? Why or why not?
  2. How does a difference in 1 pH unit change in terms of H+ concentration? Example: How does a pH of 3 differ from pH of 4? Which one is stronger or weaker? Why?
  3. Look at the ingredients for each liquid you tested. Which ingredients contribute to each of the liquid’s pH level?

Real Life Applications:

  1. Neutralization: Whenever you mix an acid with a base, they neutralize each other. If this is the case, why is Alka-Seltzer used to treat stomach aches? (Note: excess stomach acids cause stomach aches)
  2. What is acid rain and how does it negatively impact oceans, rivers, lakes, and other natural environments?