Ceric ammonium nitrate test

The ceric ammonium nitrate test is a way to examine a solution for the presence of either alcohols or phenols. In solution, the orange-yellow ceric ammonium nitrate makes a complex with the alcohol or phenol, which results in a color change. Alcohols cause a red color change, whereas phenols induce a more dark-red to dark-brown color change, depending on the phenol involved.

The reaction is as follows:

Ceric ammonium nitrate reacts with 3 alcohols to form a red ceric complex and 2 ammonium nitrates.


  • Test tubes

  • Test tube rack

  • Ceric ammonium nitrate solution

  • Compound to be tested

Safety information

Ceric ammonium nitrate is a strong oxidizer, corrosive, an irritant, and an environmental hazard. Contact with other materials may cause a fire. It is harmful if swallowed and eye contact may result in permanent eye damage. It causes eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation.


  1. Make a solution of the organic compound dissolved in a suitable solvent. Put 1 mL in a test tube.

  2. Add a few drops of ceric ammonium nitrate solution.

  3. If the solution becomes a red color then an alcohol group is present in the organic compound.

  4. The red color disappears if:

    • You keep the reaction mixture for some time.

    • You add an excess of ceric ammonium nitrate solution. Therefore, avoid using an excess of ceric ammonium nitrate solution.


  • NCERT Lab Manual for Functional Group tests