Spicy Indicator: Use turmeric to test for bases in your home

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This activity uses turmeric, a common spice in curry, as an indicator for acidity and basicity. Turmeric is yellow in acid and neutral substances, but turns bright red with bases. Learners can use their indicator to test household chemicals and determine which are basic. This activity requires adult supervision since it uses isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol. This activity (located on page 2 of the PDF) is one of three activities in the Take Home guide for the Everyday Chemistry unit in OMSI's Chemistry Lab. Included in the PDF are two additional activities: Iron in Cereal and Mystery Writing.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • one small jar with a tight-fitting lid
  • one eyedropper or small spoon
  • several small bowls or cups
  • household chemicals to test (soap, vinegar, baking soda, etc.)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Acids and Bases

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation