A bicarbonate indicator (hydrogencarbonate indicator) is a type of pH indicator that is sensitive enough to show a color change as the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in an aqueous solution increases.
The indicator is used in photosynthesis and respiration experiments to find out whether carbon dioxide is being liberated. It is also used to test the carbon dioxide content during gaseous exchange of organisms. When the carbon dioxide content is higher than 0.04%, the initial red color changes to yellow as the pH becomes more acidic. If the carbon dioxide content is lower than 0.04%, it changes from red to purple. Carbon dioxide, even in the concentrations found in exhaled air, will dissolve in the indicator to form carbonic acid, a weak acid, which will lower the pH and give the characteristic color change. A color change to purple during photosynthesis shows a reduction in the percentage of carbon dioxide and is sometimes inferred as production of oxygen.