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Tetrabutylammonium hydroxide

Tetrabutylammonium hydroxide
Chemical name
Tetrabutylammonium hydroxide
Chemical formula C16H37NO
Molecular weight 259.47 g/mol
Appearance Colourless to light yellow solution
CAS number 2052-49-5
MSDS Tetrabutylammonium hydroxide MSDS
Other names TBAOH
Physical properties
Solubility water, methanol
Density 0.97 g/cm3 (for solution 55% w/w at 20 °C)
pH (10% solution with water)  ?
Phase behavior
Melting point not obtainable as pure species
Boiling point decomp
Ingestion Damage to the digestive tract.
Inhalation burns to the respiratory tract.
Skin burns.
Eyes burns.
  • Hazards:
    • corrosive (class 8)
  • Personal protection:
Solid properties
Except where noted, all data was produced under conditions of standard temperature and pressure.

Tetrabutyl ammonium hydroxide is the chemical compound with the formula (C4H9)4NOH, abbreviated Bu4NOH with the acronym TBAOH or TBAH. This species is not readily obtainable as a pure compound, but it employed as a solution in water or alcohols. It is commonly used as a base in organic chemistry. Relative to more conventional inorganic bases, such as KOH and NaOH, Bu4NOH is more soluble in organic solvents. Attempted isolation of pure Bu4NOH induces Hofmann elimination, leading to Bu3N and 1-butene. Solutions of Bu4NOH are typically contaminated with Bu3N for this reason.[1]

Applications in the synthesis of organic compounds

Bu4NOH is a strong base that is used often under phase-transfer conditions to effect alkylations and deprotonations. Typical reactions include benzylation of amines and generation of dichlorocarbene from chloroform.

Bu4NOH can be neutralized with a variety of mineral acids to give lipophilic salts of the conjugate base. For example, treatment of Bu4NOH with disodium pyrophosphate, Na2H2P2O7, gives (Bu4N)3[HP2O7], which is soluble in organic solvents.[2] Similarly, neutralization of Bu4NOH with hydrofluoric acid affords Bu4NF. This salt dissolves in organic solvents and is useful to desilylation.[3]


Bu4NOH is toxic and corrosive. See MSDS.


  1. ^ Bos, M. E. "Tetra-n-butylammonium Hydroxide" in Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis (Ed: L. Paquette) 2004, J. Wiley & Sons, New York. DOI: 10.1002/047084289.
  2. ^ Woodside, A. B.; Huang, Z.; Poulter, C. D. “Trisammonium Geranyl Diphosphate” Organic Syntheses, Collected Volume 8, p.616 (1993).
  3. ^ Kuwajima, I.; Nakamura, E. Hashimoto, K. “Silylation of Ketones with Ethyl Trimethylsilacetate: (Z)-3-Trimethylsiloxy-2-Pentene” Organic Syntheses, Collected Volume 7, p.512 (1990).
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tetrabutylammonium_hydroxide". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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