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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 23 (2018) pp 143-144

A Tale of Two Spices: Differential Discrimination between the Chemical Properties of Saffron and Turmeric in a Forensic Chemistry Laboratory

Kelsey Sinclair, Arsalan Mirjafari and Sulekha Rao Coticone*

Department of Chemistry and Physics, Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers, FL, 33965,
Received June 11, 2018. Accepted July 9, 2018.

Published: 18 July 2018

Abstract. It is well-known that active learning exercises to solve real life problems can kindle student interest. One of the specific topics that stimulates student interest is the application of chemistry in the field of forensic science. In the present study, students learn to apply presumptive, mid-level, and confirmatory tests to distinguish two spices with medical benefits. Students initially perform color spot tests (CSTs) followed by Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) and then Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to distinguish between the chemical properties of saffron and turmeric. To further characterize the two spices, different solvents are used for thin layer chromatography (TLC). Finally, using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance data, students learn to distinguish the chemical structures of the active ingredients found in the two spices. Once all three procedures are completed, students would have employed three categories of analytical techniques and determined the sensitivity of each test used by most forensic scientists in drug identification.

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

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Supporting Materials:

One supporting file is available containing Instructor notes and a student handout. (118 KB)

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