Valentine Science: Water into Wine and Colored Water!

Turn water into wine, make a red heart, create a colorful flower… all using science for your Love this Valentine’s Day

You will need: clear drinking glasses, sodium carbonate (washing soda) water, straw, phenolphthalein indicator (acid-base indicator used to be in Ex-Lax tablets), white card stock paper, food coloring, white carnation flowers

Now Try This:

  1. To turn water into wine: Place a few drops of phenolphthalein indicator into a wine glass full of water.  Sprinkle another dry wine glass with sodium carbonate.  Pour the phenolphthalein-water into the dry glass containing sodium carbonate.  You just turned water into “wine”.  Using a straw have your Valentine blow into the “wine” and you will see it turn back clear and colorless.
  2. To make the red heart:  Coat white card stock paper with phenolphthalein-water solution and allow to dry.  In a small dish dissolve sodium carbonate in water.  Using a paint brush you and your Valentine can paint a red heart on the paper using the sodium carbonate solution (these are both clear and will create a red heart on the paper).
  3. To create a colorful flower: In a clear glass of water add food coloring and place a fresh cut stemmed carnation flower into the food coloring solution.  Allow to sit up to 24 hours for good flower coloring.  You can also cut the stem in half and place half the stem in one color and another half into another color.

Explanation:

For both the wine and the red heart an acid base indicator called phenolphthalein is used.  This indicator will change from clear to a pinkish red color when it is in an alkaline environment (basic materials).  Certain chemicals in our world are alkaline.  Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is a strong base and therefore easily turns phenolphthalein solutions red.  Blowing into the “wine” through a straw turns the solution back to acidic because carbon dioxide from our breath turns into carbonic acid in water.

For the colored flower… the stems of flowers contain tiny tubes called xylems. These are how nutrients and water travels to the flower.  When the water is colored it gets pulled up through the xylems to the flower.

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