How do we use bromine water to distinguish among saturated hydrocarbons, unsaturated hydrocarbons, and phenols?

Bromine water test – is used to differentiate between the unsaturated compounds (like alkenes and alkynes) and the saturated compounds. For this purpose, bromine is used in the form of bromine water.

A solution of bromine in water is called bromine water. Bromine water has a red-brown colour due to the presence of bromine in it. When bromine water is added to an unsaturated compound, then bromine gets added to the unsaturated compound and the red-brown colour of bromine water is discharged. So, if an organic compound decolorizes bromine water, then it will be an unsaturated hydrocarbon (containing a double bond or a triple bond), but saturated hydrocarbon (alkanes) do not decolorize bromine water.

If a white precipitate forms along with the decolouration, a phenol is present.

Phenols are so reactive that they react instantaneously with bromine to form a white precipitate. For example, phenol forms a precipitate of 2,4,6-tribromophenol.

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