What chlorophyll conceals

How many components does chlorophyll contain?

Warn­ing! Only un­der adult su­per­vi­sion.


  • kerosene or lighter flu­id;
  • ace­tone nail pol­ish re­mover;
  • an­ti­sep­tic;
  • sy­ringe;
  • wa­ter­col­or pa­per strip;
  • glass;
  • mor­tar and pes­tle;
  • spinach leaves,;
  • fun­nel;
  • piece of cot­ton wool;
  • scis­sors;
  • hairdry­er.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Dice some spinach leaves and crush them in a mor­tar. In­sert a piece of cot­ton wool in a fun­nel and rinse the crushed leaves through it with an­ti­sep­tic. Ap­ply a coat of the re­sult­ing so­lu­tion to a wa­ter­col­or pa­per strip and dry it with a hairdry­er. Re­peat sev­er­al times to make the spot of col­or more vivid. Mix kerosene or lighter flu­id with ace­tone nail pol­ish re­mover in a glass in a 9:1 ra­tio. Dip the wa­ter­col­or pa­per strip in this sol­vent – the green spot splits into sev­er­al more!

Sci­entf­ic de­scrip­tion

Chloro­phyll con­sists of sev­er­al sub­stances, each of which has a dif­fer­ent col­or. As it pass­es through the pa­per, the sol­vent takes these sub­stances with it. The pa­per slows each sub­stance down dif­fer­ent­ly, so they trav­el dif­fer­ent dis­tances. In this case, chloro­phyll’s com­po­nents will sep­a­rate on the pa­per only if a spe­cial sol­vent is used; a mix­ture of kerosene (or lighter flu­id) and ace­tone from the nail pol­ish re­mover is suit­able for this pur­pose. Ev­ery­one can be a sci­en­tist – even at home!

A safer ver­sion of this ex­per­i­ment is in­clud­ed in “Col­or­ings” set from the MEL Sci­ence sub­scrip­tion.