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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 19 (2014) pp 070-072

Presumptive and Confirmatory Tests using Analogs of Illicit Drugs: An Undergraduate Instrumental Methods Exercise

Benjamin D. Rouse, Rebecca L. Schneider, and Eugene T. Smith*

Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter, FL 33458,
Received December 14, 2013. Accepted February 17, 2014.

Published: 21 March 2014

Abstract. In this laboratory exercise, students utilize both presumptive and confirmatory tests to identify illicit drug analogs without the need to have controlled substances in the laboratory. This exercise is different from those previously described in that students are given a wide variety of unknowns that mimic illegal drugs, and they are tasked to identify these compounds using both presumptive and confirmatory tests. Multiple presumptive tests are performed simultaneously, and the results are interpreted using the Macbeth color scheme. The resultant color pattern, rather than sequential tests results, is used to identify compounds. Confirmatory tests, GC-MS and ATR-FTIR analysis, were performed under the same experimental conditions, so there is no need to base an analysis protocol on the results of a presumptive test.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; analytical chemistry; forensic science; drug analysis

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (102 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Instructor notes, student handout, example GC-MS data, and an Excel template with a colorimetric spot test logic table are supplied (1.3 MB).

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