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How to Test the pH of a Substance

Updated April 17, 2017

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. On this simple scale, 0 is most acidic, 7 is neutral and 14 is the most alkaline. Litmus paper is commonly used to test the pH of a substance. Litmus paper is easy to use because it changes colour to indicate whether something is acidic or alkaline. However, litmus paper does have its limitations. You cannot get an exact pH measurement using litmus paper.

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  1. Pour the liquid or substance into a beaker or a glass. If you are working with a hazardous substance, make sure you are wearing goggles, an apron and gloves for protection.

  2. Dip the litmus paper in the liquid. The litmus paper should be wet, but you do not need to soak it.

  3. Compare the colour of the wet litmus paper to the colour chart that was included with the litmus paper. The colour chart provided by the litmus paper manufacturer will help you determine the pH of your substance.

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Things You'll Need

  • Beaker or glass
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Apron
  • Litmus paper
  • Litmus paper colour chart

About the Author

Based in South Florida, Beth Swanson has been writing professionally since 2005. Her articles have been published in the magazines “Kiwi," “Natural Home,” “Clean Eating,” “Palm Beacher," the “Miami New Times” and several other publications. Swanson earned a Master of Arts degree in integrated marketing communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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