Parabens Detection Chem Owl

Parabens detection is relevant for shampoos, cosmetics, deodorants, food and in other places around your home - want to find out more? Click here to find out why Parabens detection is important and about the hazards of Parabens in your home.


1 Cotton swab (“q-tip”)

2 Disposable plastic cup

1 Small disposable white plastic plate

Rubbing alcohol (a.k.a.: ethanol)

Water (preferably de-ionized)

Parabens Indicator: Ferric trichloride (can be purchased here)

Parabens Testing Procedure

1. Place a small amount (1/8 of a teaspoon) of the substance you wish to test in 1 cup of rubbing alcohol, and stir until it dissolves.

2. Lightly soak a cotton swab with alcoholic test solution.

3. Let swab air dry to evaporate the alcohol.

4. In a cup mix a 1/4 teaspoon of Parabens Indicator with 1 cup of water. Label this solution – “Indicator”.

5. On a white plastic plate place a drop of the Indicator solution.

6. Dip the dried test swab into the drop solution mixture and allow it to soak up the liquid. If Parabens are present on the swab a purple, blue or green coloration should appear on it within 1-10 minutes (depending on the concentration).

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with a clean (untreated) swab which will serve as a reference to help distinguish the color-change.

Comments About Parabens Testing

• This method is qualitative and able to detect Parabens content down to 0.1%.

• When testing several items, be sure to check each individual surface with separate swabs and drop

solution mixtures in order to avoid cross-contamination of the results.

• If Parabens are detected it is advised that you limit your exposure and contact a professional.

Parabens Testing Safety

• Always work with safety glasses and disposable gloves.

• Always keep chemicals away from children and food.

• Do not use containers, utensils or other tools that you may use to prepare food.

• Dispose of solutions in a drain with flowing water.

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