Magic potion #1

My 3½ year old son is into magic at the moment and wants a (working) wand for his birthday! In our ‘boredom busters‘ post one of my readers, Jo, came up with the fabulous idea of making magic potions – naturally I thought my son would love it.

Magic potion

So here’s the lowdown on magic potion #1: Get a handful of red cabbage, chop it up and pour boiling water over it to produce a blue dye.

Magic potion

Get some lemon juice and add a few drops to the cabbage juice.

Magic potion

Watch it turn the most AMAZING pink! (I have not enhanced the colours in these pictures at all).

Magic potion

Here’s the science: Red cabbage juice contains a natural pH indicator that changes colours according to the acidity of the solution. Read more about it in this great article at chemistry.about.com.

Anyway, it’s a really cool little experiment and my son wants to do it every day at the moment. We’ve already waded through a whole cabbage in the name of scientific research. I still can’t get him to eat any though! Incidentally cabbage juice makes the most amazing pink playdough!

I’m going to do a whole series of posts on magic potions so keep your eyes peeled.

I’ve also got some valentine craft coming up in the next few days. I’ll get the boredom busters page up by the end of the week – it’s taking a little while to put together, simply down to the amount of brilliant suggestions I’ve had.


 

 

22 Comments Leave yours

  1. Have you ever seen Goldenrod Paper? It’s a pH indicator paper that turns from yellow to bright red. Lots of fun for magic tricks. Here’s a link to it, but I have a ton if you’d like me to send you some!
    http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/product/1239
    Maria

  2. Kate #

    Hi Maria…I’ve never heard of it – i’ll have to check it out. Apparently you can make pH paper from red cabbage juice and coffee filters. One for the to-do list I think! Thank you for the offer to send me some…it’s very kind of you. I’ll have a look locally and see if I can find some – if not I’ll give you a yell.

    I was just looking at your blog and remember that golden fleece vest you made for your son – so gorgeous. Hope you are all on the mend. It’s been a winter of illness for us too – not much fun!

  3. Wendi #

    Thank you for this great little experiment! Just did it w/ my sons on this icy winter day. Boiled up some cabbage, added the lemon juice and, just like you said, blam!

  4. Kate #

    Haha – thanks Wendi – it’s pretty cool eh!

  5. karen #

    I can’t wait to give this a go! My middle child KNOWS she’s a scientist. She’s 6 and we’ve also known she was an engineer since she became obsessed with the workings of lego and high-chair seatbelts … when she was 8 months. (So much more so than the first or third … ) The are ALL going to love this!

  6. I LOVE this idea! Using droppers is also good for the muscles in the hands that are used for cutting. So, droppers are essentially a good practicing for cutting skills later.

  7. Christine #

    My kids enjoy making magic wands using clear straws (fatter the better). Stop up one end with a plug of playdough or masking tape, etc. Collect “magic” things to put in the wand to give it the different powers that your sorcerer desires: flowers, a special twig, very small stones, seeds, feather, glitter, secret message, etc. Then plug the other end, embellish the outside with ribbon if desired, and prepare to cast your spell…

  8. What about Goop. It’s cornflour and water, and I colour the water before I add it. Cornflour in a bowl and keep adding a few drops of water at a time until you get an almost concrete like consistency. A few more drops until you can roll a ball in your hand. Now, roll that ball and hold it and watch it turn to liquid. My Girl Guide unit loves it.

  9. Oooooh I so have to try this with my kids. They will get a kick out of it! thanks.

  10. Hi Katie – we have made goop but not for a long while so I’ll have to make it in the next week or so. I’m sure the boys will love it.

    Christine – that’s such a lovely idea regarding the straws. I’ll put that on my to do list also!

    Thanks you lot! x

  11. Love this, can’t wait to do it with the boys. Thanks so much.

  12. In my home, Goop often ends up turned into paint, and we get cornflour paint all over the flowerpot holders. Very artistic

  13. Wow Wow Wow! I don’t know how I missed this post in my reader but I’m glad I came to the site just now. I have a head of red cabbage just languishing in my fridge. Tomorrow we will try this and paint with the results!

  14. I love it! And I am sure my kids will love it even more :-))) Glad I have found your blog :-))) Have a great week! Asia

  15. Cassie #

    You can do another magic trick (one that doubles to help ready minds understand the occurrence of ocean acidification in the presence of CO2).
    Start with same cabbage solution. Using a drinking straw, blow bubbles in the water. Watch it change colour — w on’t be as bright as with the lemon juice, but same change will occur. Could set up different small jars and blow into one for a minute, one for 45 seconds, one for 30 and one for 15 to make a gradation.

  16. Kate #

    Hi – thanks for all the lovely messages…..what a great tip Cassie – I had no idea that you could do that. I’ll definitely give it a blast and report back! :)

    • Kudrat #

      U know i found a magic trick on youtube and what you do is take some plain salt and take a piece of coloured chalk and you mix the salt with the chalk and i used blue chalk and in about ten seconds the salt will turn blue!

  17. Vida #

    We tried that and it was great. Then Dady came and he put some soda bicarbona in cabbage and lemon juice and the pink turned into blue again. So the boys started to change the colours.
    I am very glad to find your page. Thanks.

  18. Kate #

    Hi Vida…that sounds cool…never thought of changing the colour back again. Will have to try it out! :)

  19. Thank you for this! We had so much fun with it this afternoon. I put out a tray with little bowls of cabbage water, lemon juice, vinegar and some baking soda. My four and six year olds LOVED it. They changed the colors back and forth, and made them fizzy. Thank you, thank you, for this and all of the other excellent suggestions!

  20. Jessica #

    Hydrangeas also change color based upon the acidity, though, it’s easier to access cabbage throughout the year and the cost is much less as well. LOVE this and will be using this! Thanks for sharing!!!

  21. Cristina #

    I do this experiment with my kindergarten students every year challenging them to come up with the largest variety of colours possible. Other things that work to change it are a borax solution (blue), lemon juice, vinegar, lime juice, tonic water, and sprite (pinks). Adding the baking soda to the mix then causes an explosion, but the pink bubbles spilling over the floor are worth it!

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