Liebermann reagent

The Liebermann reagent named after Hungarian chemist Leo Liebermann (1852-1926) is used as a simple spot-test to presumptively identify alkaloids as well as other compounds. It is composed of a mixture of potassium nitrite and concentrated sulfuric acid.[1][2] 1g of potassium nitrite is used for every 10 mL of sulfuric acid.[3] Potassium nitrite may also be substituted by sodium nitrite.[4][5] It is used to test for cocaine, morphine, PMA and PMMA.

The test is performed by scraping off a small amount of the substance and adding a drop of the reagent (which is initially clear and colorless). The results are analyzed by viewing the color of the resulting mixture, and by the time taken for the change in color to become apparent.

Final colors produced by Liebermann Reagent with various substances
Substance Color
AlprazolamNo reaction
AtropineRed - Orange
PMA and PMMAPurple - Brown[7]
MDMAIntense Brown[8] - Black[7]
AmphetamineIntense Olive Green[7]
CathinoneBright Yellow[8]
MethcathinoneBright Yellow[8]
4-MMCBright Yellow[8]
N,N-DMCFaint Yellow[8]
3-FMCNo reaction[8]
4-MOMCFaint Orange[8]
MethyloneOrange > Brown[8]
MDPVYellow > Green[8]
ButyloneYellow > Brown[11] or Green > Brown[8]
JWH-307Dark Yellow[11]
AB-001Dark Yellow[11]
CB-13Dark Green[11]
JTE-907Black (bubbling)[11]
UR-144Dark Red[11]
URB-597Yellow Brown[11]
URB602Dark Brown[11]
URB754Light Brown[11]
AM-1248Dark Yellow[11]
AB-034Red-Orange > Dark Red[11]
A-796,260Red-Orange > Dark Red[11]
A-834,735Red-Orange > Dark Red[11]
FUR-144Dark Red[11]
APINACANo color change[11]
JWH-073Yellow - Brown[11]
JWH-018Yellow - Brown[11]
JWH-200Dark Yellow - Brown[11]
AM-2201Yellow - Brown[11]
JWH-203Yellow - Orange[11]
RCS-4-C4 homologBrown[11]
AM-694Dark Yellow[11]
MAM-2201Green - Brown[11]
MethoxetamineOrange - Brown[11]
EthketaminePale Yellow[11]
3-HO-PCEDark Brown[11]
5-MeO-DALTDark Brown - Black[11]
DPTDark brown
5-ITDark Brown[11]
6-APBDark Purple[11]
CamfetamineDark Red[11]
MethiopropamineDark Brown[11]
MDAIGreen > Black[11]
5-IAIDark Brown[11]
PethidineRed - Orange[12]
AllylescalineBrown - Black[11]
2C-T-2Red[11] / Purple[13]
2C-CYellow > Black > Clear
2C-BYellow -> Black

See also


  1. Horowitz, Benjamin (2009). A Study of the Action of Ammonia on Thymol. Bibliolife. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-110-61089-1. Retrieved 2012-01-25. Since his day the Liebermann reagent (6% potassium nitrite in conc. sulfuric acid) has been extensively used.
  2. Bell, Suzanne (30 Jun 2004). Dictionary of Forensic Science (Facts on File Science Dictionary) (Facts on File Science Dictionary Series.). Facts on File Inc. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-8160-5131-1. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
  3. Brittain, Harry G.; McLeish, Michael J (20 Mar 1998). Analytical Profiles of Drug Substances and Excipients. 25. Academic Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-12-260825-4.
  4. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-01. Retrieved 2015-02-01. Liebermann Reagent: Carefully add 5 g sodium nitrite to 50 mL sulfuric acid with cooling and swirling.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. Drugs and Poisons in Humans: A Handbook of Practical Analysis. Liebermann's reagent: 2 g of sodium nitrate is dissolved in 20 mL of concentrated sulfuric acid.
  6. "NARK® II Narcotics Test - NARK20031 - Liebermann Reagent - Meth/Morphine". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  7. EMCDDA (30 Mar 2011). EMCDDA Risk Assessment: Report on the Risk Assessment of PMMA in the Framework of the Joint Action on New Synthetic Drugs. Dictus Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 978-3-8433-2695-7. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
  8. Toole KE, Fu S, Shimmon RG, Kraymen N (2012). "Color Tests for the Preliminary Identification of Methcathinone and Analogues of Methcathinone" (PDF). Microgram Journal. 9 (1): 27–32.
  9. Uchiyama N, Kawamura M, Kamakura H, Kikura-Hanajiri R, Goda Y (2008). "Analytical Data of Designated Substances Controlled by the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in Japan, Part II: Color Test and TLC" (PDF). Yakugaku Zasshi. 128 (6): 981–7.
  10. "4-FA reaction colour results with liebermann and froehde reagent test kits". Reagent Tests UK. 3 January 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  11. "Color Tests and Analytical Difficulties With Emerging Drugs of Abuse" (PDF). Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
  12. "Rapid Testing Methods of Drugs of Abuse" (PDF). United Nations International Drug Control Programme. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
  13. "Marquis/Mecke/Mandellin results for stim/empathogen/2C-X, RC's & more - Page 10". Retrieved 2016-08-25.
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