Magic Color Changing Water

About: There are some things you should just never, never, do...

Magic Color Changing Water

It's Magic!

Water changing from CLEAR to BRIGHT PINK and back to CLEAR!


Well, not really magic, but chemistry; and still amazing!

This is a very visual demonstration using an indicator to identify the pH of a solution; as an acid or a base.

First the water is made to have a basic pH by adding Sodium Carbonate (Na2 CO3). Not to be confused with Sodium Bicarbonate which is Baking Soda.

Then by adding the indicating solution, Phenolphthalein Solution (C20 H14 O4), it turns the water a striking pink color indicating that the solution has a basic pH.

Finally the water is transformed back to clear by adding vinegar (Dilute Acetic Acid CH3 CO OH) to bring the solution back to a neutral pH, and the pink indicator disappears.

The color change takes place almost instantaneously - which is amazing to watch!

It's a very fun demo to perform.

This presentation has multiple uses - As a magic trick, as a purely scientific demonstration, as an object lesson, as a metaphor for damage and restoration or sin and repentance, and many others. Or just for plain fun!!!!

You can see more info on phenolphthalein on Wikipedia.

WARNING: Do NOT drink the water.Keep out of the reach of children.Follow all warnings and cautions on chemicals.

Step 1: Materials

To perform this demonstration you will need:

Water (H2O, aka Dihydrogen Monoxide ;-)

Phenolphthalein Solution (C20 H14 O4)*

Sodium Carbonate (Na2 CO3)*

. [Sodium Carbonate. Not to be confused with Sodium Bicarbonate which is Baking Soda.]

Dilute Acetic Acid (CH3 CO OH) (White Vinegar)

Tall Large Glass Container (Cylindrical flower vase)

Bottles (2 liter, small squat 237 ml (8 fl oz), small vial ~2ml (0.07 fl oz)

Stir Stick

*Easily purchased online.

Also, some chemistry sets do have all the chemicals needed. Years ago I purchased a 'toy' chemistry set that had 400 'experiments' that included color changing experiments and had what was noted here.


WARNING: Do NOT drink the water used in this demonstration.Keep out of the reach of children.Follow all warnings and cautions on chemicals.

Phenolphthalein Solution (C20 H14 O4) CAUTION Contains 50% Ethyl Alcohol. DO NOT INGEST. EYE IRRITANT. For eyes, wash with water. In case of accident seek professional medical attention.

Sodium Carbonate (Na2 CO3) CAUTION IRRITANT. HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. Avoid contact with eyes and prolonged contact with skin. In case of eye contact flush freely with water. If swallowed, give water, see professional medical attention.

Step 2: Prepare Liquids

Add Sodium Carbonate (Na2 CO3) to the water ahead of time. About 1g (0.03 oz) to 1 liter of water (~1 quart). This gives the water a basic pH to start.

I found a 2 liter bottle half full convenient.

Place about 2 ml (<1/2 tsp) Phenolphthalein Solution (C20 H14 O4), the pH indicator, in a small vial.

Fill the small water bottle with 230 ml (~8 fl oz.) of white vinegar, which will be used to take the water back to neutral, and clear, from the basic pH.

Step 3: Make the Magic Happen

Make the Magic happen by going through the steps noted below. Be sure to embellish each step as appropriate for your application.... I'm sure there is a lot of dialog that would go along with each step if this was being used as a magic trick!

1. Fill the glass about 3/4 full with water (basic pH, from Sodium Carbonate added previously).

2. Pour the Phenolphthalein Solution from the vial into the Glass Container. The water will turn shocking pink as the Phenolphthalein Solution enters. It will look like you are pouring pink liquid into the water.

3. Stir the water to evenly distribute the pink color (indicator).

4. Admire the brilliant pink!

5. Pour the small bottle full of white vinegar into the glass (brings pH back to neutral). The water will start turning clear immediately.

6. Stir if needed.

7. Admire the Magic of a clear glass of water!

Talk up your demonstration!

Enjoy the Magic of Chemistry!

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