Simple Saturday: Autumn Leaf Potion

Got the supplies? The small bowl, rubbing alcohol, white coffee filter, a green leaf, and a spoon (not pictured...sorry.) Let's get started.

First, tear the leaf into small pieces. Place the pieces in bowl. Use the spoon to smash the leaf, trying to squeeze as much juice from the leaf as you can.

Next, put about about two spoonfuls of rubbing alcohol in with the smashed leaf juice mixture. Continue to smash and stir. Let the leaf juice/alcohol mixture set for a few minutes. When the once clear alcohol becomes a nice green color your Autumn Leaf Potion is ready for experimentation.

Okay...dip a corner of the white coffee filter into your Autumn Leaf Potion. Soak up a good bit of the potion and then set the filter aside to dry. If you're like me, it is hard to wait for the potion soaked coffee filter to completely dry. Be patient, Mr. Mad Scientist. Be patient.

Once that coffee filter dries, look super closely at the leaf potion stain color change. See the trace of gold at the wiggley edge of the leaf potion stain? That's what my leaf becomes in the fall....a nice yellowish gold color.

Now, like I said earlier, my options for finding leaves that change into vivid fall colors are slim-to-none and yet, my experiment was successful! And my experiment was done with a whimpy little leaf. What if you did this with a big, fat, full, wonderful New England leaf? One that turns orange-red? I can tell you right now...with a good leaf like that your experiment will turn out tons better than mine did. I promise.

What does this experiment tell us about the changing colors of autumn leaves? Here's  a good quote from a web site called Science Made Simple (great name...don't you think?) explaining what happens to make leaves change colors. The real question they really change?

Winter days are short and dry. Many plants stop making food in the fall. The chlorophyll goes away. Then we can see orange and yellow colors. These colors were in the leaves all summer, but the green covered them up.

Some leaves turn red. This color is made in the fall, from food trapped in the leaves. Brown colors are also made in the fall. They come from wastes left in the leaves.

How about that? The fall colors are inside of those leaves all along! Even when they were green. Simply amazing, don't you think?

NOT a picture of my backyard. Yours? Then go out there and gather up some leaves!!!!