Make Litmus Test

Do-It-Yourself Turmeric “Litmus” Test

Want to test if a substance is an acid or base but don't have any litmus paper? If you have rubbing alcohol and ground turmeric on hand, you can easily make a pH indicator: (xii.39)

  • Mix together ¼ teaspoon of turmeric with ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol and strain into a glass jar (using a paper coffee filter lining a mesh strainer).
  • Stir in ½ cup distilled water. Avoid using tap water, which may not have a neutral pH. In fact, you can test your water with turmeric pH indicator strips.

Looking for a Fun School Science Fair Project ?

Try making turmeric pH indicator strips to test commonly used household and personal care products, such as powdered laundry or dishwasher detergent, soda pop, antacids, shampoo, and vitamin C tablets. (xii.39)

Table XII.2: Turmeric pH Indicator Results

Bright Yellow


(pH < 7.0)

Bright Red


(pH > 7.0)

Remains Pale Yellow


(pH = 7.0)

Testing pH of a Powdered Substance

To test a powder, simply add a few drops of the pale yellow turmeric pH indicator to a spoonful of the powdered substance. Do not touch the substance with your dropper, or the turmeric pH indicator solution will be ruined once you put the contaminated dropper back into the jar. The color change will tell you if the substance is an acid, base, or neutral: (xii.39)

Testing pH of a Liquid

Make your own pH test strips by: (xii.39)

  • Place a cookie or oven rack over a cookie sheet.
  • Cut coffee filters into ¾"-1" strips.
  • Using clean, dry kitchen tongs or tweezers, dip the strips one at a time into the turmeric pH indicator fluid.
  • Lay the strip separately on the rack to dry.

To test the liquid, simply dip the end of the indicator strip into it and use the chart above to determine if it is acidic or basic. (xii.39)

You can find distilled water in the laundry detergent section of supermarkets.

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