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Testing the pH of everyday substances

A series of free IGCSE Chemistry Activities and Experiments (Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry).

Testing the pH of everyday substances
In this activity, a range of household and everyday products are tested for their pH using Universal Indicator solution (or Universal Indicator paper). The substances and products used range from lemon juice, vinegar and descaler through different soap solutions to floor cleaner containing ammonia and toothpaste slurry. One interesting range of products to compare is carbonated drinks.
Comparisons can also be made of the sensitivity of using litmus and Universal Indicator with that of using a pH sensor linked to a data logger or pH meter. This activity could be followed up by an experiment on neutralising vinegar with slaked lime or powdered limestone.

Create an organised table of your results giving the estimated pH values of the products tested.

Test the pH of the following substances
Lemon juice, Baking soda, Vinegar, Windex, Antacid, Aspirin, Milk of Magnesia, Vitamin C, Rolaids (Antacid), Bleach, Carbonated Water, Shaving Cream, Rust Dissolver, Deodorant, Lime Away.
Test the pH of 10 Common Household Liquids using a digital pH meter
Pure water is neutral, with a pH of 7, but most other water-based solutions are either acidic or basic. Some people are afraid of the word “acid,” thinking it means they are going to get burned. But the words “acid” and “base” merely tell you the direction a solution is moving away from neutral.

Acids increase the concentration of H+ ions in a solution.
Bases decrease the concentration of H+ ions in a solution.
If you’re concerned about safety, what you really want to know is the pH.
The pH scale runs from 0 to 14.
Acids have a pH less than 7.
Bases have a pH greater than 7.
The 10 Liquids we are testing today are:
Tap Water, Coffee, Glass Cleaner, Soda Pop, Moisturizer, Vinegar, Sriracha (hot sauce), Shampoo, Milk, Lemon Juice

Try the free Mathway calculator and problem solver below to practice various math topics. Try the given examples, or type in your own problem and check your answer with the step-by-step explanations.
Mathway Calculator Widget

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