Litmus Testing with Cabbage

You may have discerned by now that I enjoy making things. Pretty much anything.

So after searching around a bit for “what to do with extra bottles of oil” and coming back with “making soap” I’ve successfully whipped up a couple batches of the cleanly stuff that look promising. But here’s the catch: you want to figure out when it’s done reacting with the lye and, well, becoming soap.

Now, I could just buy some litmus strips. That’s probably a pretty good solution, but it A) involves buying something and B) involves finding the something to buy. Which wastes both time and money, and mostly defeats the using-up-leftovers nature of my initial soap making initiative.

One thing I *do* have is quick access to grocery stores and what-have-you on my ride home from work (very built out sections of Connecticut). After a bit of research, I found (and then remembered) that middle school science classes generally include an experiment whereby you test the PH acid/base level of various substances and objects using a reactive mixture made from a vegetable.

Our answer here, dear reader, is cabbage. Specifically the red variety.

Using nothing but some simple instructions, found here, you too can make an off-the-cuff PH judgment based on a simple PH chart of the water coloration. Or if you want to get fancy (or use the stuff for a bit longer of a period) you can reduce it in alcohol instead.

It’s not useful outside getting a rough reading, but fortunately for my soap making (and possibly ground soil testing) I really want to know if it’s near the center of the range, not get an overly accurate reading out of it.