Simon's reagent

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 reagent is composed of a mixture of sodium nitroprusside, sodium carbonate and acetaldehyde,[1][2] which is dripped onto the substance being tested. The amine and acetaldehyde produce 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.[2][3]

"Robadope" for detecting primary amines

Acetaldehyde can be replaced with acetone, in which case the reagent detects primary amines instead, giving a purple coloured product.[2]


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]

Testing Method

The National Institute of Justice's method for producing the reagent is by creating two solutions and then adding them to the drug. Solution A: Dissolve 1 g of sodium nitroprusside in 50 mL of distilled water and add 2 mL of acetaldehyde to the solution with thorough mixing. Solution B: 2 percent sodium carbonate in distilled water. Procedure: Add 1 volume of solution A to the drug, followed by 2 volumes of solution B.[4]

See also


  1. "Simon's Reagent Testing Kit (Yellow & Green Labels)". Dancesafe. Archived from the original on 2014-02-15. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  2. "Chemistry and Reaction Mechanisms of Rapid Tests for Drugs of Abuse and Precursors Chemicals" (PDF). UNODC. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  3. 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.
  4. "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.
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