Science, Tech, Math › Science Definition of Qualitative Analysis in Chemistry It provides nonnumerical information about a specimen Share Flipboard Email Print The flame test is a technique used to identify ions using qualitative analysis. Dorling Kindersley, Getty Images Science Chemistry Chemical Laws Basics Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated December 09, 2019 In chemistry, qualitative analysis is the determination of the chemical composition of a sample. It encompasses a set of analytical chemistry techniques that provide nonnumerical information about a specimen. Qualitative analysis can tell you whether an atom, ion, functional group, or compound is present or absent in a sample, but it doesn't provide information about its quantity. Quantification of a sample, in contrast, is called quantitative analysis. Techniques and Tests Qualitative analysis involves chemical tests, such as the Kastle-Meyer test for blood or the iodine test for starch. Another common qualitative test, used in inorganic chemical analysis, is the flame test. Qualitative analysis typically measures changes in color, melting point, odor, reactivity, radioactivity, boiling point, bubble production, and precipitation. Methods include distillation, extraction, precipitation, chromatography, and spectroscopy. Branches of Qualitative Analysis The two main branches of qualitative analysis are organic qualitative analysis (such as the iodine test) and inorganic qualitative analysis (such as the flame test). Inorganic analysis looks at the elemental and ionic composition of a sample, usually by examination of ions in aqueous solution. Organic analysis tends to look at types of molecules, functional groups, and chemical bonds. Example She used qualitative analysis to find that the solution contained Cu2+ and Cl- ions.