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Paper Chromatography with Leaves

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    American Chemical Society

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Paper Chromatography with Leaves

In this activity on page 5 of the PDF (Plants—The Green Machines), learners use chromatography to separate and identify pigments within various leaves. Learners soak leaf pieces in warmed rubbing alcohol and then dip coffee filter paper in the alcohol, lifting and separating the leaf pigments according to size.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • Leaves
  • Baby food jars with lids
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Coffee filters
  • Hot tap water
  • Shallow pan


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemistry of Life
      • Solutions
    • Light and Optics
      • Sunlight and Color
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Department of Volunteer Support, American Chemical Society


  • All Rights Reserved, American Chemical Society, ©2010


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