I am trying to detect formalin in different types of food. Formalin $(\ce{CH2(OH)2})$is an aqueous solution of formaldehyde, which is $\ce{CH2O}$ or $\ce{H2CO}$. I used many chemicals to do this, but every time I fail. Please help me to do this. I got some results in my test by using NFPA 704 and ChEMBL, but that is not enough to save all. I would like to make a simple and easy food formalin detector that can save all the people. Please help me or give me some direction.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you are unable to detect formalin because it is not there. Formalin/formaldehyde has a very powerful and distinct smell that is extremely unpleasant. It can be detected at fairly low concentrations by your nose, which is perhaps the best sensor available for formaldehyde. $\endgroup$ – Ben Norris Jun 9 '14 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ Also, what you you mean by "test by using NFPA 704, ChEMBL"? NFPA 704 is the code for the NFPA standard that gives us the fire diamond. ChEMBL is a database of properties of drug-like molecules for bioinformatics purposes. $\endgroup$ – Ben Norris Jun 9 '14 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ This might help you $\endgroup$ – Freddy Jun 10 '14 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks to all... I am new in stackexchange. And I like Chemistry. I want to help everyone with my knowledge. If you know the formula or you have any article that I can get some idea please give me. We will very appreciate to you. $\endgroup$ – Shanjedul Hassan Jun 10 '14 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Freddy - Would you be willing to expand/explain/summarize your link as an answer? $\endgroup$ – Ben Norris Jun 10 '14 at 13:50

Simple commercially available tests contain formaldehyde dehydrogenase. This enzyme selectively catalyzes the chemical reaction of formaldehyde:

$$\ce{CH2O + NAD+ + H2O -> HCOO- + NADH + H+}$$

The enzymatic reaction is typically indicated by reduction of a tetrazolium salt to a coloured formazan dye.


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