An unknown sample is treated with a small amount of elemental bromine in an organic solvent, such as dichloromethane or carbon tetrachloride. Presence of unsaturation and/or phenol in the sample is shown by disappearance of the deep brown coloration of bromine when it has reacted with the unknown sample. The formation of a brominated phenol in form of a white precipitate indicates that the unknown was a phenol. The more unsaturated an unknown is, the more bromine it reacts with, and the less coloured the solution will appear.
Should the brown colour not disappear, possibly due to the presence of an alkene which does not react, or reacts very slowly with, bromine, the potassium permanganate test should be performed, in order to determine the presence or absence of the alkene. The iodine value is a way to determine the presence of unsaturation quantitatively.
- "The Systematic Identification of Organic Compounds" R.L. Shriner, C.K.F. Hermann, T.C. Morrill, D.Y. Curtin, and R.C. Fuson John Wiley & Sons, 1997 ISBN 0-471-59748-1
- "Alkene Classification Tests". Chemistry Gravity Waves. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
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