Jump to main content

Chlorophyll Extraction

318 reviews


Areas of Science
Time Required
Average (6-10 days)
Material Availability
The page on Paper Chromatography Resources lists the best papers and solvents for chromatography. The paper needs to be specially ordered and is available from our partner Amazon.com.
Low ($20 - $50)
The solvents, like acetone or alcohol, for paper chromatography should be used in well-ventilated areas. Adult supervision is recommended.
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.


Chlorophyll is a natural pigment found in green plants. It is the primary pigment that absorbs light energy from the sun for photosynthesis. This energy is then used by the plant to synthesize glucose from carbon dioxide and water. Chlorophyll in the leaves of plants can be extracted and separated using chromatography. A good source of chlorophyll for an extraction is a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach. Rub a fresh spinach leaf on the bottom of a strip of filter paper. You can get a good dark smear of green by using a coin. When you see a dark line of chlorophyll, dip the bottom of the strip into a solvent like rubbing alcohol or acetone (nail polish remover). What happens to the chlorophyll? Are there other pigment molecules in the leaf? What would happen to leaves collected during other seasons? Try an experiment to compare different colors of fall leaves: green yellow orange and red. Some species of trees and bushes have red or yellow leaves all year round. What would their pigment and chlorophyll molecules look like after being separated? What about the difference in chlorophyll levels between young leaves and old leaves? The young leaves will be at the tip of the stem, while older leaves will be at the base of the stem near the branch. What happens to the chlorophyll in leaves that have been blocked from sunlight? You can use dark paper and tape or a paper lunch bag to cover a leaf and block out the sunlight. Will this change the chlorophyll components of the leaf? What can these experiments tell you about the regulation of chlorophyll production in plants? (VanCleave, 1993, 107-112; Science Buddies, Discover Chlorophyll Variety in Different Plants Using Paper Chromatography


  • VanCleave, J. 1993. Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Biology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Clark, Jim. (2007). Paper Chromatography. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
This resource will give you more information about the history of chromatography, and teach you about the types of chromatography used in research labs today:
icon scientific method

Ask an Expert

Do you have specific questions about your science project? Our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.


If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Career Profile
Growing, aging, digesting—all of these are examples of chemical processes performed by living organisms. Biochemists study how these types of chemical actions happen in cells and tissues, and monitor what effects new substances, like food additives and medicines, have on living organisms. Read more
Career Profile
With a growing world population, making sure that there is enough food for everyone is critical. Plant scientists work to ensure that agricultural practices result in an abundance of nutritious food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Read more
Career Profile
As the world's population grows larger, it is important to improve the quality and yield of food crops and animal food sources. Agricultural technicians work in the forefront of this very important research area by helping scientists conduct novel experiments. If you would like to combine technology with the desire to see things grow, then read further to learn more about this exciting career. Read more
Career Profile
A nice cool yogurt is the perfect snack. It comes in a variety of delicious flavors like peach, chocolate, and cherry and contains calcium, vitamins, and minerals that are good for you. Yogurt also contains live cultures that your body needs to maintain good health. How did all of those good things get into your yogurt? The answer is that a biochemical engineer helped to develop a recipe to make that yogurt a perfect snack for you. So many of the products that we use every day, from medicine… Read more

News Feed on This Topic

, ,

Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Chlorophyll Extraction." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/PlantBio_p020/plant-biology/chlorophyll-extraction. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Chlorophyll Extraction. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/PlantBio_p020/plant-biology/chlorophyll-extraction

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
Free science fair projects.