Simon's reagent

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Simon's reagent is used as a simple spot-test to presumptively identify alkaloids as well as other compounds. It reacts with secondary amines like MDMA and methamphetamine to give a blue solution.


The primary use of this reagent is for detecting secondary amines, such as MDMA and methamphetamine, and is typically used after the mecke or marquis reagents to differentiate between the two mentioned and amphetamine or MDA.[1]


The reagent is typically provided in two parts:[2][1][3]

Separate storage of the aldehyde and base are necessary to prevent aldol polymerisation of the aldehyde.

When exposed to an amine, reaction with acetaldehyde produces the enamine, which subsequently reacts with sodium nitroprusside to the imine. Finally, the iminium salt is hydrolysed to the bright blue[1] Simon-Awe complex.[3][5]

Acetaldehyde can be replaced with acetone, in which case the reagent detects primary amines instead, giving a purple coloured product.[3]

Testing Method[edit]

A drop from each solution (A and B) is dripped onto the substance being tested, causing the two solutions to mix together.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Simon's Reagent Testing Kit (Yellow & Green Labels)". Dancesafe. Archived from the original on 2014-02-15. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  2. ^ Thompson, Robert; Thompson, Barbara Fritchman (2012-08-14). Illustrated Guide to Home Forensic Science Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture. "O'Reilly Media, Inc.". p. 255. ISBN 978-1-4493-3451-2.
  3. ^ a b c "Chemistry and Reaction Mechanisms of Rapid Tests for Drugs of Abuse and Precursors Chemicals" (PDF). UNODC. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  4. ^ a b "Color Test Reagents/Kits for Preliminary Identification of Drugs of Abuse" (PDF). Law Enforcement and Corrections Standards and Testing Program. July 2000. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
  5. ^ Leeuwenkamp, O. R.; van Bennekom, W. P.; van der Mark, E. J.; Bult, A. (1984). "Nitroprusside, antihypertensive drug and analytical reagent". Pharmaceutisch Weekblad. 6 (4): 129–140. doi:10.1007/BF01954040. ISSN 0031-6911. PMID 6384923. S2CID 21283981.