Natural Indicator: Vanilla Extract

Will Kruse, Marko Perovich, David Sigler, Adam Colombus


In this lab we used Vanilla Extract as a natural indicator to test four different household chemicals. We have decided to test baking powder, vinegar, shampoo and hydrogen peroxide. An acid is a substance that dissociates or gives a hydrogen ion to produce a Hydrogen ion (H+), and a base is a substance that dissociates or accepts a hydrogen ion to produce a hydroxide ion (OH-). Indicators are acids or bases that dissociate in a known pH range, changing color in the process allowing one to estimate the pH value of a substance.


***There was no need to prepare our natural substance (Vanilla extract)

1.Get test tubes with all 7 pH values

2. Add 20 drops of indicator to each pH value. You will notice that as the color gets darker it goes from an acid to a base.

3. Gather 4 clear and colorless household items and put about an inch of each substance into a test tube.

4. Add distilled water to the baking power so that the chemicals can dissociate and you could test for a pH value.

5. Put 20 drops of the indicator into each substance.

6. Match up the colors to the pH standards you've already set up to the experimented household items tested.


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Colors for acids-

1- Light Orange

3- Orange

5- Dark Orange

Colors for bases-

9- Dark Red Orange

11- Red

13-Dark Red

Indicator better at detecting acids or bases?

-The indicator was better at detecting bases because the colors between each pH level were more easier to differentiate between within the bases than in the acids.

Problems with natural indicator and judging hp

-The colors of the acids were very similar, making it difficult to judge the pH.

What would we do differently?

-Next time, we would use a different aqueous solution as a household substance instead of baking powder. Although we dissolved it in water before testing the pH, another household item would have been easier to use and find a more accurate pH.