Chemical Indicators

Definition of Chemical Indicator

The chemical indicator is a substance that provides a clear sign or indication by a color change of the presence or absence of a threshold concentration of a chemical species such as an acid or base in a solution. An example is that the substance called methyl yellow which imparts a yellow color to an alkaline solution. If acid is slowly added the answer remains yellow until all the alkali has been neutralized whereupon the color suddenly changes to red.

Like most indicators, methyl yellow is visible albeit its concentration is as low as a couple of parts per million parts of the solution. Used at such low concentrations indicators don't have any influence on the conditions that they're recommended. The common application of indicators is the detection of endpoints of titrations.

Types of Indicators

Artificial and Natural indicators are the two types of Chemical indicators.

Litmus, red cabbage, turmeric, china rose are a number of the present indicators around us.

Artificial Indicators

  1. Litmus 


Litmus is the most ordinarily used natural chemical indicator used. It is the answer to various sorts of dyes naturally obtained from lichens. It shows a purple color in the distilled water. It changes its color to blue when added to a basic solution and provides a red color when tested with an acidic solution. It is often found in the form of strips of paper known as the litmus paper. It is found in two colors as red litmus paper and blue litmus paper. Acids change the blue paper to red and base changes the red paper blue. Solutions that do not make any difference in the red or blue litmus are known as neutral solutions.


Image will be uploaded soon

Natural Indicators

  1. Turmeric


Turmeric which we use in our lifestyle for the preparation of food also can be used as the chemical indicator. When applied on an acidic medium it changes its color into yellow. And when used as a basic solution it changes its color to brownish-red. This is the rationale thanks to which a turmeric stain on a white shirt becomes red when soap is applied thereon. This spice contains a yellow pigment.curcumin which changes yellow pH-7.4 to red-pH 8.6.


Image will be uploaded soon


  1. China Rose


China rose (gurhal) is readily available in most of the houses. When an answer to china rose is employed with a basic solution it changes its color to green whereas when used with an acidic solution it changes its color to bright pink or magenta.


Image will be uploaded soon

Natural Indicators and their Colour Changes

  1. Blackberries 

From red color during an acidic environment blackberries, black currant, and black raspberries changes to blue or violet in a basic environment.

  1. Blueberries

 Blueberries are blue around pH 2.8-3.2 but turn red because the solution becomes even more acidic.

  1. Cherries

 Cherries and their juice are red in an acidic solution, but they turn blue to purple during a basic solution.

  1. Poison Primrose

 Chinese primrose has orange or blue flowers. The orange flowers contain a mixture of pelargoniums. The blue flowers contain malvin which turns from red to purple as an answer goes from acidic to basic.

  1. Red (Purple) Cabbage

 Red cabbage contains a mix of pigments wont to indicate a good pH range.

  1. Rose Petals

 The oxonium salt of cyanin turns from red to blue in a basic solution.

Did you know?

  • A Power of hydrogen(pH) indicator changes its color over a small range of pH values in the given solution. There are many various pH indicators which display different colors and act between certain pH limits. A classic example is the litmus paper. When exposed to an acidic environment blue litmus paper turns red while under basic conditions red litmus paper turns blue.

  • Fluorescein is a type of adsorption indicator. The dye is used to detect the completed reaction of the silver ion with chloride. Once sufficient silver is added to precipitate chloride as chloride excess silver is adsorbed onto the surface. Fluorescein combines with adsorbed silver to produce a color change from greenish-yellow to red.

  • Other sorts of fluorescent indicators are designed to bond to chose molecules. The fluorescence signals the presence of the target species. A similar technique is used to label molecules with radioisotopes.

  • An indicator could also be wont to identify the endpoint of a titration. This may involve the looks or disappearance of a color.

  • Indicators indicate the presence or absence of indicators. Example nitrate tests all employ indicators lead test and pregnancy tests A test for blood sugar fit for diabetics ought to have a similar simplicity of use. One cool fact to stay in mind is that red cabbage juice may be a pure indicator. At the start of the reaction, the cross will be clearly visible once you start looking in the flask.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Is a Chemical Indicator?

A chemical indicator may be a substance that undergoes a defined observable change when conditions in its solution change. This could be a color change precipitate formation bubble formation natural process or other measurable quality. There are other kinds of indicators which we can come across in chemistry and other sciences which can also be a pointer, light on a tool, instrument which shows temperature, pressure, volume, etc. or the condition of a bit of kit (e.g. power on/off available memory space). The term "indicator" itself is derived from the Medieval Latin words indicare-to indicate.

2. How the Color Change of the Indicator Happens?

The dissociation of the H+ ion from the indicator itself further results in the color change in a pH indicator. Recall that pH indicators aren't only natural dyes but also weak acids. The dissociation of the weak acid indicator causes the answer to vary color. The equation for the dissociation of the H+ ion of the pH indicator is shown below:

HIn + H2O ⇌ H3O+ + In-


  • HIn is the acidic pH indicator and

  • In- is that the conjugate base of the pH indicator

It is important here to note that the equation expressed above is in equilibrium.