Skip to main content

Montshire at Home:
Color Chemistry

When light falls on a colored object, pigments in the object absorb all of the light except the color that we see. That color is reflected. It bounces off the pigment and we see it. And where do we find pigments in nature? Many of them are chemicals in plants.

Learn all about the chemistry of colors through hands-on activities, videos, and more!

Color Scavenger Hunt

The science of color can be found in natural materials, like the foods you eat and plants that grow around you.

Download our color wheel and head outside on a nature color scavenger hunt.

​Plant Pounding

Chlorophyll is the green pigment we are most familiar with in plants. But flowers have different pigments in them that give them their beautiful colors.

Experiment with capturing pigments from different plant parts to create botanical art!

Cabbage Juice Chemistry

Cabbage — a delicious vegetable or a crazy color changing chemical? Make your own purple cabbage juice to use as a colorful pH indicator and try some kitchen chemistry at home. Download the activity sheet to get started!

Plant-Based Paints

Create your own watercolors using pigment that you extract from plants! Download our activity sheet and learn how.

Compost Color

Don’t throw that avocado pit away! Use your food scraps to add color to old napkins, clothing or pillowcases.

We call the colors we find in plants, pigments. People have been using the pigments found in plants to produce paint, ink, and dye for thousands of years. Pigments can come from all the different parts of the plant: seeds, roots, stems, bark, leaves, and flowers.

Plant-based pigments can be found in some of the things we might think of as food-waste, like avocado skins and pits, onion skins, and old tea bags. We can use these things to give fabrics, like old clothes, napkins, or linens, a new life!

Download our activity sheet to get started.