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Give a chemical test to distinguish between saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons.



  • The saturated hydrocarbons are ones which have only single bonds between the carbon atoms whereas unsaturated hydrocarbons are the ones which have double and triple bonds between the carbon atoms as well apart from the single bonds.
  • Unsaturated hydrocarbons are able to undergo addition reaction where an atom is added across the double/triple bond. However, saturated hydrocarbons are not capable of showing this reaction.
  • Therefore , they can be chemically distinguished with the help of bromine water test .
  • In this, the unsaturated hydrocarbons are able to decolorize the orangish brown color of bromine water because they are capable of showing addition reaction .
  • On the other hand, the saturated hydrocarbons are not able to decolorize bromine water because of their inability to show addition reaction.


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CA Maninder Singh is a Chartered Accountant for the past 13 years and a teacher from the past 17 years. He teaches Science, Economics, Accounting and English at Teachoo