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PH Paper vs. Litmus Paper: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 7, 2023
pH paper measures a wide pH range, while litmus paper indicates acidity or basicity.

Key Differences

pH paper is a universal indicator that changes color based on the pH level of the solution it's introduced to. The color exhibited can range across a wide spectrum, representing a wide pH scale, allowing for the precise measurement of the solution's pH. On the other hand, litmus paper comes in two types – blue and red. Blue litmus paper turns red under acidic conditions, while red litmus paper turns blue under basic or alkaline conditions. It offers a basic idea about whether a solution is acidic or alkaline, without giving a specific pH value.
Both pH paper and litmus paper are essential tools in chemistry and biology laboratories. While pH paper provides detailed insights into the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, litmus paper provides a quick and straightforward indication. They are both dipped into the solution under test to observe a color change.
In practical applications, pH paper might be used when the exact pH level of a solution is needed. For instance, in a lab setting, a scientist may need to know the specific pH of a chemical mixture. Litmus paper, conversely, might be used in simpler experiments where only a general idea of the solution's nature (acidic or basic) is required.
A common misconception is that pH paper and litmus paper can be used interchangeably. While they both relate to pH measurement, their functions differ. pH paper offers a broad spectrum of measurement, whereas litmus paper serves as a binary indicator, telling us only if a substance is on the acidic or basic side of the pH scale.

Comparison Chart


Measures exact pH level of a solution.
Indicates if a solution is acidic or basic.

Color Change

Changes across a wide spectrum based on pH.
Turns red for acid and blue for base.


Gives precise pH value.
Gives a general idea (acidic or basic).


One type that changes colors based on pH.
Two types: red (for acids) and blue (for bases).


Used when specific pH value is needed.
Used for a quick test of acidity or basicity.

PH Paper and Litmus Paper Definitions

PH Paper

A strip used to determine the pH level of a solution.
The scientist used pH paper to test the acidity of the rainwater.

Litmus Paper

A chemically treated paper strip that changes color in the presence of an acid or base.
The blue litmus paper turned red, indicating an acidic environment.

PH Paper

A universal indicator providing a color representation of a solution's pH.
Students used pH paper in the lab to differentiate between acidic and alkaline solutions.

Litmus Paper

A paper impregnated with a dye that changes color to signify acidity or alkalinity.
The scientist chose litmus paper for a quick assessment of the solution's nature.

PH Paper

A chemically treated paper that changes color in response to the pH of a liquid.
Dip the pH paper into the liquid and observe the color shift to determine its pH.

Litmus Paper

A test strip that indicates if a solution is acidic or basic.
Using litmus paper, she confirmed the solution was indeed acidic.

PH Paper

A laboratory paper that indicates the pH value when in contact with a test solution.
The spa technician utilized pH paper to ensure the water was properly balanced.

Litmus Paper

A classic tool in chemistry to determine the general pH character of a solution.
In the demonstration, the red litmus paper shifted to blue when dipped into the basic solution.

PH Paper

A diagnostic tool to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance.
Gardeners sometimes use pH paper to test soil pH.

Litmus Paper

A simple pH indicator used in laboratory experiments.
The students were asked to test various liquids using litmus paper.


What is pH paper?

pH paper is a strip used to measure the exact pH level of a solution.

Is litmus paper a specific type of pH paper?

No, litmus paper provides a general indication, whereas pH paper gives a specific pH value.

Can I use pH paper instead of litmus paper?

While both relate to pH measurement, pH paper offers more specificity, whereas litmus paper provides a binary indication.

How does pH paper differ from litmus paper?

pH paper measures a wide pH range, while litmus paper only indicates if a solution is acidic or basic.

How do I read a pH paper?

Match the color of the wet pH paper to a pH color chart to determine the solution's pH value.

Can I reuse litmus paper?

No, litmus paper is typically for single-use only.

What are the types of litmus papers available?

There are two types: red for testing bases and blue for testing acids.

Can I determine the exact pH of a solution using litmus paper?

No, litmus paper only indicates if a solution is acidic or basic.

Why is it important to know the pH of a solution?

pH can affect many properties of a solution, including reactivity, solubility, and taste. Knowing pH is essential in fields like chemistry, biology, and medicine.

Why would someone choose litmus paper over pH paper?

Litmus paper is chosen for quick tests where only a general idea of the solution's nature is required.

Does pH paper come in different colors?

Yes, pH paper changes across a spectrum of colors based on the pH of the solution.

Why is pH paper important in labs?

It provides an accurate measurement of the pH level of solutions, essential for various experiments.

Are there alternatives to pH paper and litmus paper?

Yes, there are electronic pH meters and other chemical indicators.

How is pH paper made?

It's impregnated with a universal indicator that reacts and changes color based on the pH of a solution.

Is it possible for pH paper to expire?

Yes, over time the chemicals can degrade, affecting accuracy.

Can pH paper test all types of solutions?

It can test most, but its accuracy can be compromised if the solution has strong coloring or high turbidity.

What is the pH scale?

The pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is, ranging from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic).

Is litmus paper always blue or red?

Initially, yes. Blue litmus turns red in acids, and red litmus turns blue in bases.

How is litmus paper made?

It's made by treating paper with a natural dye derived from lichens.

In what scenarios is litmus paper most commonly used?

Litmus paper is commonly used in educational settings and for quick tests of solution acidity or basicity.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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