Cabbage Inks


For thousands of years, people have used colors collected from nature to create art. Many plants have natural pigments, and the one in red cabbage (anthocyanin) is very special — it can change color when it’s mixed with ingredients from your kitchen. In this activity you will use acids (like lemon juice) and bases (like baking soda) to make your own rainbow of colorful paints from red cabbage! 

Design Challenge

Mix your own colorful paints using pigment from red cabbage. Use them to create a piece of art!


Biodesign, Chemistry, Art




Extract: 1 hour  |  Mix: 30 min  |  Create: 30 min-3 days

Key Concepts

Pigment, pH, acids and bases, paint

This activity was made possible by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), Grant Number R25 GM129220, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Getting Started

Learn more with our videos

Learn more with our PDF guides


Cabbage Inks Activity Guide

Follow this guide to turn red cabbage into your own rainbow of color-changing paints!

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Cabbage Inks

Essential Questions

Get answers to some of the sticky questions frequently asked by adults.


Cabbage Inks Color Palette

Learn more about the cabbage colors you can make by adding acids and bases!


Cabbage Inks

Tie Dye

Try these simple steps to explore using your pigment as an eco-friendly fabric dye.  

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