Ever wondered what color would a leaf be if not for the plush green color? The simple experiments listed here will help you extract the chlorophyll from the leaves, thus bringing out the real color of the leaves. Have fun trying out these experiments.
Come spring and “The hills are alive . . .”, doesn’t that ring a bell in your head? Why does this song pop up every time spring is around the corner? Leave spring aside, why does our heart jump up with joy every time we come across a green foliage? One thing is certain; the color green does symbolize life and rejuvenation. I bet you already know, plants are green because of the presence of a pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll derives its name from the Greek words, Chloros meaning green and phyllon which means leaf. It’s a well-known fact that plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and release oxygen by a process called photosynthesis. This process is possible only because plants have chlorophyll, which enables the plants to prepare their own food, unlike us humans who have to depend on other sources to get energy. Let us get on to the experiments without wasting any more time.
Simple Ways to Extract Chlorophyll
Given below are four simple yet effective ways to extract chlorophyll, and the best part is that, you can perform them in the comforts of your home. Be sure to have an adult supervising and assisting you while performing the experiments.
Method : Using Acetone/Nail Paint Remover
You Will Need
♣ Spinach/Geranium Leaves
♣ Nail Polish Remover
♣ Duct Tape
♣ Old Muffin Tray
♣ Glass Bowls
♣ Metal Spoon
♣ Cotton Rag
♣ Paper Towels
♣ Hand Blender
♣ Ask an elder to give you an old muffin tray, place a few sheets of paper towels over the tray and keep it aside. You could fasten the paper towels using a bit of duct tape.
♣ Cover the mouth of a glass bowl with the cotton rag. This will be used as a filter.
♣ Chop the spinach/geranium leaves or simply coarse blend them with a hand blender. Pour out the coarse blend into a glass bowl.
♣ Put your gloves on and pour in 1/4th of the nail paint remover into the glass bowl. Remember to put on the mask to avoid inhaling the nail polish remover.
♣ Use the metal spatula to stir in the mixture and simultaneously apply pressure on the leaves, so that they get crushed completely.
♣ The resultant liquid will turn green in color; the chlorophyll is being extracted from the leaves as a result of the stirring and the crushing.
♣ Use the other glass bowl and strain the liquid through the cotton rag. All the residue will collect on the cotton rag. Be careful not to get any liquid on your clothes or body.
♣ Now with the spatula, carefully ladle the muffin tray with the liquid. The paper towels will work as an additional filter for the liquid.
♣ Once the liquid is filled into the muffin tray, set the tray outside in the sun to allow the nail paint remover to evaporate. Keep the tray away from young children and pets as the liquid can be hazardous for them. The residue collected at the bottom of the muffin tray is the extracted chlorophyll. Remember to throw away the old muffin tray and gloves, once you are done with the experiment.
Method : Using Rubbing Alcohol/Surgeon’s Hand Sanitizer
You Will Need
♣ Spinach Leaves
♣ Glass Bowl
♣ 2 Cups Water
♣ Rubbing Alcohol
♣ Shallow Pan/Vessel
♣ Distilled Water
♣ Bring to boil 2 cups of water in a shallow pan.
♣ Once the water has boiled, infuse the leaf into the water and boil for a few minutes.
♣ Once the leaf becomes soggy, turn off the heat and remove the leaf from water.
♣ Immerse the boiled leaf into the bowl containing the rubbing alcohol, also known as the surgeon’s hand sanitizer.
♣ Leave the bowl in the pot containing hot water for about an hour.
♣ The liquid would have turned green after about an hour. This is your extracted chlorophyll.
♣ Stir and strain the liquid into distilled water to get the chlorophyll solution.
Method : Using Ethanol/Drinking Alcohol
You Will Need
♣ 10 ml Ethanol/Alcohol
♣ Spinach Leaves
♣ Shallow Beakers
♣ Into one of the beakers, place the shredded spinach leaves (chop it as fine as you can).
♣ Into the same beaker, add the drinking alcohol/ethanol.
♣ Stir vigorously for a few minutes, till the liquid turns green.
♣ Strain the solution by passing it through the funnel.
♣ Pour into the other beaker and keep overnight for the alcohol to evaporate.
♣ You will find the extracted chlorophyll at the bottom of the beaker the next morning.
Method : Using Blotting Paper
You Will Need
♣ Blotting Paper
♣ Scotch Tape
♣ Fold the blotting paper into half.
♣ Place the leaf in between, and if needed, secure with scotch tape.
♣ With the back of the spoon, rub the blotting paper vigorously.
♣ When you unfold the paper you will find green patches on the paper. This is chlorophyll, that gives plants the green color.
♣ Observe the leaf color now, doesn’t it appear yellowish? Some leaves can even be red in color after removing the chlorophyll.
The processes mentioned here are relatively simple and easy to perform, especially the third and the fourth method, which can be performed by young school goers as well. You need not be a science scholar to do these experiments, as all the material you require to carry out the experiments are easily available in your house or the nearby chemist shop. Remember to take help from your elder siblings or guardians when handling acetone and using the gas burner. And if you want some more tips on extracting chlorophyll, here’s a fun technique to do so, simply run and skid on wet grass in the garden. Chlorophyll stains do not wash away that easily, so you might anger your mum with them, so be ready.
Chlorophyll, I hope you know, is essential not only for plants but also for humans; even though we do not have the pigment chlorophyll like the plants, consuming green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, etc., is beneficial for our body. If you are still wondering how chlorophyll benefits your body, go back to watching Popeye eating cans of spinach which gives him the strength to fight the wrong doers!