Beilstein test

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A flame test used to detect the presence of halogens in organic compounds. The Beilstein test is commonly used to identify Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). To conduct the test, a piece of Copper wire or copper gauze placed in a flame to burn off impurities. When the flame shows no green, the copper wire is removed and a small piece or drop of the material to be tested is placed on its surface, then metal is returned to the flame. A green flame is a positive result for the presence of a halogen compound.

Synonyms and Related Terms

pyrolysis test for chlorine; Beilsteinprobe (Deut.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Fluorine is not detected by this test.
  • Fingerprints may give a false positive result.

Resources and Citations

  • N.Odegaard, S.Carroll, W.Zimmt, Material Characterization Tests for Objects of Art and Archaeology Archetype Publications, London, 2000, p. 106.
  • S.Williams, The Beilstein Test: A Simple Test to Screen Organic and Polymeric Materials for the Presence of Chlorine. CCI Notes No. 17/1, Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, 1989.
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993