What can cause a sample to turn orange during the Nessler ammonia test?

Document ID

Document ID TE132

Published Date

Published Date 09/01/2020
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Question
What can cause a sample to turn orange during the Nessler ammonia test?
Summary
Interference to nitrogen-ammonia Nessler reagent causing orange color
Answer
The Nitrogen, Ammonia Nessler Method 8038 has several interferences. The normal color reaction using the Nessler reagent is a yellow color. High concentrations of ammonia can turn the sample orange or cause an orange precipitate in the sample. The recommendation to minimize this interference is to dilute the sample and retest.

If a distilled water sample turns orange or has orange precipitates after adding the Nessler, then an interference of aldehydes or amines may be present. Listed below are two recommendations to remove this interference:
-Purchase distilled or deionized water that is ammonia free.
-Distill reagent water from acidified potassium permanganate; this has been reported as an effective method of eliminating background levels of aldehydes or amines.

Reference the Water Analysis Handbook (WAH) Method 8038 for full list of interferences.

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