Bromine Water Test

This is part of the HSC Chemistry course under the topic Analysis of Organic Substances. This section explores a range of chemical tests that can be conducted in a school laboratory to identify and distinguish between various organic functional groups.

HSC Chemistry Syllabus

Conduct qualitative investigations to test for the presence in organic molecules of the following functional groups:

Identifying C=C Bonds: Bromine Water Test

Bromine water test is a chemical test to differentiate between alkenes and alkanes. It can also be used to identify the presence of a carbon-carbon double bond. This video outlines the bromine water test and explains why organic molecules give different observations when reacted with bromine water.


Bromine Water Test

  • Reaction with bromine water distinguishes an alkene from an alkane. Alkane and alkene are nonpolar molecules which can dissolve in bromine water which is also nonpolar.


  • Safety Considerations
    • Cyclohexane and cyclohexene are typically used in schools as they are less volatile than smaller alkanes and alkenes due to their stronger dispersion forces.
    • Bromine water is also safer to use than bromine gas.


  • Method and experimental condition:
    • A few drops of orange/brown coloured bromine water are added to a solution of cyclohexane and cyclohexene in the absence of UV light
    • Record changes in the solution’s appearance


  • Observation: the reactive C=C bond in alkene undergoes addition reaction with bromine (Br2) to form an haloalkane. This decreases [Br2] and hence decolorises the solution. For example, bromination of ethene:

$$C_2H_4(aq) + Br_2(aq) \rightarrow C_2H_5Br(aq) + HBr(aq) $$


  • If the bromine water containing alkane is exposed to UV light, the alkane will undergo substitution reaction to produce haloalkane. This will also decolorise the solution, but at a much slower rate.


$$C_2H_6 + Br_2 \rightarrow C_2H_5Br + HBr$$


$$C_2H_5Br + HBr \rightarrow C_2H_4Br_2 + H_2$$