Scientists remove chlorophyll from plants using extraction with an organic solvent. The solvent dissolves the chlorophyll while leaving other materials intact, according to Plant Methods.
One of the common organic solvents scientists use to dissolve chlorophyll is acetone. The scientist begins by dipping the leaf into boiling water for a few seconds to a few minutes to stop other chemicals in the leaf from breaking down the chlorophyll. A student attempting this experiment as a science fair project should then cut the stems and veins from the leaf, saving the remaining tissue. The student then soaks the leaf material in pure acetone for several hours, until the solvent takes on a green color, indicating chlorophyll is dissolving from the leaves. Shaking occasionally speeds the process. The student pours off the liquid containing chlorophyll and discards the leftover leaf material.
The acetone solution contains chlorophyll, other pigments and other organic compounds. In order to further separate the extracted chlorophyll, the student paints a line of the concentrated acetone solution on a paper chromatography strip. He then suspends the strip with one end in the selected solvent to separate the green solution into various components. In a more advanced chemical laboratory, HPLC helps to separate the chlorophyll from the mixture.