I've recently become fascinated by the use of butterfly pea blossoms to add colour to alcoholic drinks. (Yes, I've been watching How To Drink on Youtube). It acts as a natural pH indicator--add lemon juice to blossom-infused gin, and it'll go from purplish-blue to pink.

The thing is, for Reasons I want to do the reverse! I'd like to make a slightly acidic beverage, then elevate the pH, so it turns purple in the glass.

I'm familiar with using e.g. bicarb to elevate pH in savoury cooking--for caramelizing onions, that sort of thing. But I'm concerned about the flavour effects on an alcoholic drink. Are there any edible ways to elevate pH that are flavourless, or would be easily masked by a cocktail?

If there aren't, would an Alka-Seltzer tab provide the right pH reaction? I'm not a chemistry person at all so I'm not sure if the acid-base reaction would provide colour change as well as the bubbles.

ETA: TLDR what I want to do is dye a spirit with butterfly pea blossom, add acid to turn it pink, then at the moment of service add (ideally flavourless) ____________ to turn it purple/blue again.

Thanks in advance, all!

  • 4
    By the way, acidic solutions have a low pH. To make something more basic, you want to raise the pH.
    – Juhasz
    Jul 29, 2019 at 22:41
  • 1
    Calcium hydroxide is nearly flavorless, and will raise pH.Sodium carbonate, made by baking bicarb in a 350°F oven for 90 min. will also raise pH. I prefer the absence of flavor of small amounts of CaOH. If low is really the way you want to go, lemon juice should hit the spot. Jul 29, 2019 at 23:38
  • 1
    Thank you both, I edited my xpost but forgot to fix this one, got the pH scale backwards. In my defence it has been many years since chemistry class. CaOH sounds like it's what I need, flavourless and soluble in water (and presumably alcohol?)
    – Sebastien
    Jul 30, 2019 at 0:44
  • Oh dear. It turns out that CaOH is insoluble in alcohol.
    – Sebastien
    Jul 30, 2019 at 2:11
  • @Sebastion It'll still react with acid, and raise pH. I use in on my store-bought canned tomatoes every time. Fixes up the pH just fine. Jul 30, 2019 at 14:58

3 Answers 3


I had a look at the actual scientific paper describing the use of this substance as a pH indicator and a few other blogs, this is the overall advice:

1 - Please make sure that the FINAL pH of the solution is NOT basic-ish. This will not sit well in your customer's stomachs if they consume a full dose of a cocktail (120-150mL) with a final pH of more than 7.5. As I mentioned in the comments, there is a reason why you don't ingest toothpaste. Basic substances also leave a very unpleasant mouthfeel - it is a mix between a very tannin-ish feel and corrosive irritation.

2 - Do NOT add Alka-setzer. One person tried to do that and it ended-up being a gray-white shade, very unappealing for food and/or drinks

3 - There is not enough documentation on the REVERSIBILITY of this process (not all pH indicators are reversible), so you're going to need to experiment with it

4 - Aim for a final pH level of 5-6, this is where the blue color is at its optimal level. I suggest using CaOH (pickling lime / limewater) because that's easy to handle and nearly flavorless. Note that this is used in a lot of clarification processes, so you need to choose mixers that are low in protein so you don't get nasty precipitation when you add your limewater.


The Butterfly Pea Flower as a pH Indicator

  • More importantly, don't add alka-selzer to a drink because it's a drug, with various possible risks and side effects. It should only be taken in when medically appropriate and in controlled doses.
    – bdsl
    Dec 12, 2022 at 14:14

The drink doesn't have to be alkaline, as butterfly pea blossom retains its blue color between a pH of 4-8. The only thing required is to prevent the drink from dropping below that, which lemon juice can do (or a non-homogeneous mixture, for that matter).

  • Hi Various, welcome to Seasoned Advice. What you say is true, but the OP specifically wants to have a drink change from pink to blue, so they need something alkaline to add to the drink.
    – Tinuviel
    Dec 3, 2019 at 8:02

Maybe it will be a good idea to decrece the pH of the drink by usig Dry Ice, in contact with the liquid it will release a bunch of CO2. CO2 allows pH adjustment, neutralizes carbonates, scale precursors, without hard decreasing alkalinity and promotes pH stability, the pH should be around 6.5. The best of all it is flavorless.

  • 2
    The OP specifically wants to make the drink alkaline (i.e. to raise the pH above 7, despite an error in the post). Adding an acid isn't going to help.
    – Chris H
    Aug 1, 2019 at 14:02
  • What I mean with this idea, is that (e.g if i have drink with lemon, the pH should be something like 3.5, cuz the lemon ph is 2.4, so using Dry Ice, it will balance the pH to 6.5-7, the color change in the butterfly pea blossoms should be significant.
    – Jujosiga
    Aug 1, 2019 at 15:53

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