Make your own pH strips with turmeric

This post is part of our 2017 Summer of Science series! Here you’ll find quick and easy projects and experiments you can do this summer to keep your kids’ brains active and curious! As always, you can go as much or as little into the science explained below based on age and interest. Enjoy!

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This project actually came about kind of by accident, but honestly that’s how lots of science discovery happens! I was washing the extract of turmeric from a bowl in my sink (we were making dye for tie-dye!) and realized the color changed from bright yellow to brownish-red when I added water. I googled the color change and found that curcumin, the main compound responsible for turmeric’s color, will turn red in solutions with pH greater than 7.5. I took out my (real) pH strips and clocked the pH of my tap water at 9. After making sure that it’s not big deal to drink pH 9 tap water, I decided to see if we could make some pH strips with the turmeric extract, and it worked splendidly!

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