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Cabbage chemistry

Cabbage chemistry

Follow these instructions to learn about acids and bases using red cabbage
To do this experiment you will need:

fresh red cabbage
a sharp knife
a cutting board
hot tap water
seven clear plastic disposable cups
seven plastic spoons
a large plastic bottle
a range of the household substances which may include:
strongly acidic. For example, powdered toilet cleaner.
acidic. For example, vinegar, lemon juice, white wine, lemonade or citric acid.
weakly acidic. For example, cream of tartar
. neutral. For example, pure water, shampoo or baby shampoo.
slightly basic. For example, bicarbonate of soda.
basic. For example, milk of magnesia, washing soda or floor cleaner.
strongly basic. For example, dishwasher liquid or powder.
What’s happening

The things we eat and drink are all acidic, and the things we use for cleaning are basic. This is because basic substances taste unpleasant, but a cleaning agent usually needs to be basic to remove dirt and grease.
Substances that are acidic or basic make the eyes sting, so baby shampoo is made neutral.


Acids are a very common group of chemical compounds, many of which occur naturally. Acids can be strong or weak.
Citric acid, which occurs naturally in lemons, is a weak acid. Hydrochloric acid (used for soldering) and sulfuric acid (battery acid) are very strong acids.
Bases (often called alkalis) are another group of chemical compounds that have different chemical properties from acids. When bases and acids are added together, they will neutralise each other’s properties.
We describe whether things are acidic, basic or neutral by using a scale called the pH scale. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14. A substance with a pH of: 0 is a very strong acid
3 – 5 is a weak acid
7 is neutral
8 – 9 is a weak base
13 – 14 is a very strong base

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