Monday, September 23, 2013

extracting plant pigment and chromatography lab

Out on the big farm to hunt for fall color for our little investigation: 
Extracting Plant Pigment.
 There are so many ways out there to do this so instead of giving instructions or even following any specifics ourselves I decided to let Boo find her own way through.  
The basic method for extraction involves mincing plant matter and using a solvent bath.  We tried a garlic press with mixed success for breaking down the leaves.  As a solvent we used nail polish remover.

Once we extracted pigment Boo tried 2 ways of analyzing.  The first was to let our homemade strip (coffee filter) straight in the solution and the other was use a small amount of pigment on a measured line letting water run the colors through.  Both worked.    
 The photo’s don’t do the finite color changes justice.  Now, to be completely honest neither of thought this all that fun, worth doing once but not a huge hit. There was a lot of prep work and waiting, all for a rather small predicable pay off. Plus the last time we did chromatography it was with markers so it was fun, easy, and the results somewhat surprising (if you are nine and have never seen it before). See the Tinker Lab link here if you are interested in chromatography with markers : Are Black Markers Really Black?  

 But I have to say while on line comparing our pigment column to other lab results I found the below method for simple extracting- that would be worth trying!!!


  1. I love this experiment, a great way for kids to learn! Popping over from Entertaining and Educational

  2. We have done this with markers, but this looks like a more natural and educational way to do a similar experiment. Plus it works out great for the fall season.

  3. We've never done any kind of chromatography. It's on my list so thank you for the reminder. I'm impressed with your patience. The results look good to me and I love the look of the leaf-collecting.

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