# Brown ring from the anion detection of NO3-

Today in our practicals I observed that when I did the wet test for nitrate (Making a 1 ml solution of salt solution+$\ce{FeSO4}$ solution+hot concentrated $\ce{H2SO4}$); The brown ring appeared for a very short time and then disappeared.

But later on I came to know that it was nitrate only. What may be the possible reason for this temporary appearance of a tinge of a brown colour and then its sudden disappearance?

• Probably transient formation of $\ce{NO2}$.
– Zhe
Oct 26 '17 at 13:21
• See this question and links therein. Nov 3 '17 at 11:19

The brown ring formed in the confirmatory test for the nitrate ion is due to the complex called nitroso ferrous sulphate, or pentaaqua nitrosyl iron (II) sulfate with the formula $\ce{[Fe(H2O)5NO]SO4}$. The concentrated sulfuric acid decomposes this complex and brown ring disappers in a few seconds when $\ce{H2SO4}$ moves to the upper layer. This is why slow addition of the acid (through the sides of the test tube) is advised.