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The Hinsberg reaction is a chemical test for the detection of amines. It is an excellent test for distinguishing primary, secondary and tertiary amines. In this test, the amine is shaken well with Hinsberg reagent in the presence of aqueous alkali (either KOH or NaOH). A reagent containing an aqueous sodium hydroxide solution and benzenesulfonyl chloride is added to a substrate. A primary amine will form a soluble sulfonamide salt which precipitates after addition of diluted hydrochloric acid. A secondary amine in the same reaction will directly form an insoluble sulfonamide. A tertiary amine will not react with the sulfonamide but is insoluble. After adding dilute acid this insoluble amine is converted to a soluble ammonium salt. In this way the reaction can distinguish between the three types of amines.
Tertiary amines are able to react with benzenesulfonyl chloride under a variety of conditions; the test described above is not absolute. The Hinsberg test for amines is valid only when reaction speed, concentration, temperature, and solubility are taken into account.
The Hinsberg reaction was first described by Oscar Hinsberg in 1890.[Från wikipedia]