Iodine value

The iodine value (or iodine adsorption value or iodine number or iodine index) in chemistry is the mass of iodine in grams that is consumed by 100 grams of a chemical substance. Iodine numbers are often used to determine the amount of unsaturation in fatty acids. This unsaturation is in the form of double bonds, which react with iodine compounds. The higher the iodine number, the more C=C bonds are present in the fat.[1] It can be seen from the table that coconut oil is very saturated, which means it is good for making soap. On the other hand, linseed oil is highly unsaturated, which makes it a drying oil, well suited for making oil paints.

Table of iodine values

Fat Iodine number[1]
Tung oil 163 – 173
Cod liver oil 145 – 180
Grape seed oil 124 – 144[2]
Palm oil 50.0 – 55.0
Butter 26 – 40
Olive oil 80 – 88
Castor oil 82 – 90
Coconut oil 7 – 10
Palm kernel oil 16 – 19
Cocoa butter 35 – 40
Jojoba oil 80 ~82[3]
Poppyseed oil 133 ~133
Cottonseed oil 100 – 117
Corn oil 109 – 133
Canola oil[4] 110 – 126
Rapeseed oil[4] 94 – 120
Wheat germ oil[5] 115 – 134
Sunflower oil[6] 118 – 144
Linseed oil 136 – 178
Soybean oil 120 – 136
Peanut oil 84 – 106
Rice bran oil 95 – 108
Walnut oil[7][8] 120 – 155
Kapok seed oil[9] 85 – 100


This particular analysis is an example of iodometry. A solution of iodine is yellow/brown in color. When this is added to a solution to be tested, however, any chemical group (usually in this test C=C double bonds) that react with iodine effectively reduce the strength, or magnitude of the colour (by taking iodine out of solution). Thus the amount of iodine required to make a solution retain the characteristic yellow/brown colour can effectively be used to determine the amount of iodine sensitive groups present in the solution.

The chemical reaction associated with this method of analysis involves formation of the diiodo alkane (R and R' symbolize alkyl or other organic groups):

The precursor alkene (RCH=CHR') is colourless and so is the organoiodine product (RCHI-CHIR').

In a typical procedure, the fatty acid is treated with an excess of the Hanuš or Wijs solution, which are, respectively, solutions of iodine monobromide (IBr) and iodine monochloride (ICl) in glacial acetic acid. Unreacted iodine monobromide (or monochloride) is then allowed to react with potassium iodide, converting it to iodine, whose concentration can be determined by titration with sodium thiosulfate.[10][11]

Methods for the determination of iodine value

Huebl's iodine

Introduced the iodine value was Hübl which titrated fats in the presence of mercuric chloride with iodine, but with the actual reagent (probably iodine chloride) is formed in situ from mercuric chloride and iodine. In huebl's method, fatty oil is dissolved in carbon tetrachloride and treated with exess iodine solution and then it is titrated against sodium thiosulfate using starch as indicator and thus the free iodine concentration is determined

Wijs iodine value after

Addition of iodine chloride and back-titration with sodium thiosulphate by DIN 53241-1:1995-05 In the Wijs method fat/oil is dissolved in chloroform and treated with exess iodine chloride and glacial Acetic acid solution (Wijs's reagent). Then to this mixture potassium iodide is added which reacts with remaining free iodine chloride to form potassium chloride. Now this solution is titrated against sodium thiosulfate to determine the concentration of free iodine (back titration).

Iodine by H. P. Kaufmann

(Bromination of the double bonds in the dark, reducing the excess bromine with iodide, backtitration of iodine with thiosulfate)

The fat is mixed with an excess of bromine. This bromine is added to the double bonds in the unsaturated fats. This reaction must be carried out in the dark, since the formation of bromine radicals is stimulated by light. This would lead to undesirable side reactions, and thus falsifying a result consumption of bromine.

Then the unused bromine is reduced to bromide with iodide.

Now, the amount of iodine formed is determined by titration with sodium thiosulfate solution.


  1. Thomas, Alfred (2002). "Fats and Fatty Oils". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a10_173.
  4. Frank Gunstone: Rapeseed and Canola Oil: Production, Processing, Properties and Uses, page 80; John Wiley & Sons, 2009
  10. Firestone D (May–Jun 1994). "Determination of the iodine value of oils and fats: summary of collaborative study". J AOAC Int. 77 (3): 674–6. PMID 8012219.
  11. Obtaining the Iodine Value of Various Oils via Bromination with Pyridinium Tribromide Michael Simurdiak, Olushola Olukoga, and Kirk Hedberg Journal of Chemical Education Article ASAP doi:10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00283
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