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Modified Cobalt Thiocyanate Presumptive Color Test for Ketamine Hydrochloride

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 52 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2007 Pages: 84-87
Jeremiah A. Morris B.S.
Date Published
January 2007
4 pages
This paper describes the procedure and results for the testing of a new presumptive color test for the detection of ketamine hydrochloride, a Schedule III federally controlled substance.
The test was found to be sufficiently sensitive for the detection and analysis of commercial ketamine hydrochloride products. Of all the compounds tested, only ketamine hydrochloride produced a lavender to purple precipitate. Investigation of the source of the color development produced by ketamine hydrochloride revealed an unknown cobalt complex that involved ketamine, the thiocyanate ion, the hydroxide ion, and a chloride ion. The color was confirmed to be the result of a complex, rather than a permanent change of the ketamine molecule through a chemical reaction. The new test is a modification of the standard cobalt thiocyanate (CoSCN) test for cocaine. It uses reagents commonly used in forensic drug analysis. The author describes the reagent preparation. In the testing, a two-step procedure for liquids and a three-step procedure for powdered samples were used. Ninety-four compounds that included a wide variety of controlled substance classes, adulterants, diluents, and excipients were screened with the modified CoSCN test. Common solvents such as tap water, a saline solution, methanol, and ethanol were also screened. 1 table, 2 figures, and 7 references


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