Resorcinol with Nitric Acid

A violent reaction leads to boiling of the liquid phase and the release of brown vapor

Scientific name: Nitration of resorcinol


Взаимодействие безводной азотки с резорцином

by Руслан Андреев


Wear eye protection goggles. Use gloves. NO2 is a poisonous gas! Work with poisonous gases only outdoors or in a hood.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

m-HO-C6H4-OH + HNO3 → C6H3(OH)2NO2 + NO2 + H2O

m-HO-C6H4-OH + C6H3(OH)2NO2 → HO-C6H3-NO2-C6H3=O

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Preparation of anhydrous nitric acid. Mix 25 ml of concentrated nitric acid and 10 ml of concentrated sulfuric acid in a round bottom flask. Assemble the system for distillation. Distill nitric acid.
  2. Pour 10 ml of anhydrous nitric acid in a 50 ml beaker.
  3. Add a small amount of resorcinol.
  4. Observe a violent reaction with the release of brown fumes.

Scientific background

Concentrated nitric acid is a strong oxidizing agent. Unlike regular acids which have oxidizing properties due to the presence a hydrogen cation in their molecule, a molecule of nitric acid has a nitrogen atom in oxidation state +5, which gives very strong oxidizing properties.

Anhydrous nitric acid can easily react with organic compounds. It is impossible to buy, because it is very unstable. Therefore, it's necessary to be obtained.

The resulting nitroresorcinol further reacts with resorcinol leading to the formation of resazurin (redox indicator).

Fumes of the solution are composed of NO2 (brown gas).

Read more

  1. Resazurin

Published on 15 May 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst