Chem Explorers

Sodium Hydride: A Powerful Reducing Agent for Chemical Synthesis

Sodium Hydride Identification and PreparationSodium hydride is a highly reactive base with a chemical formula of NaH. It is a gray solid that is widely used in chemical synthesis, as it’s an excellent reducing agent.

This substance is highly reactive and must be handled with great care to avoid any negative impacts on the surroundings. In this article, I will go over the identification and preparation of sodium hydride to give you a clear understanding of how this substance is utilized.

Chemical Properties:

Solubility in water – Sodium hydride reacts violently with water to produce hydrogen gas. This reaction can result in explosions and fires, making it essential to handle this chemical with caution.

The compound is insoluble in non-polar solvents, such as ether and benzene, but does dissolve in polar solvents like ammonia and alcohols. pH- NaH is a strong base that reacts readily with acids to form a salt and hydrogen gas.

The pH scale that measures these chemical processes ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral. The higher the number above seven, the more basic the substance is, and the lower the number, the more acidic.

Sodium hydride has a pH of ~12-14, making it an excellent choice for deprotonating acids. Preparation Method:

Sodium hydride is usually produced through a direct reaction between hydrogen gas and sodium metal.

The process involves heating both substances to high temperatures in a reactor vessel to initiate the reaction. There are a few variations to this method, but the simplest one is:

– Place small pieces of sodium metal in a reactor vessel equipped with a stirring mechanism and a hydrogen gas inlet valve.

– Heat the reactor vessel to 300 degrees Celsius and circulate dry hydrogen gas through it at a slow pace. – The hydrogen reacts with the sodium to form NaH, which can be collected and stored in a sealed container.

– Sodium hydride is highly reactive with air, so it’s essential to store it in an oxygen-free environment. Safety Precautions:

Sodium hydride is a highly reactive compound that must be handled with the utmost care.

When working with this chemical, it’s crucial to follow proper safety protocols to prevent explosions or fires. Here are some essential safety precautions that must be taken when handling sodium hydride:

– Wear protective gear, such as goggles, gloves, and a lab coat, to prevent skin and eye contact.

– Always work in a well-ventilated area to prevent inhalation of toxic fumes. – Keep containers of sodium hydride in a cool, dry, and dark place to avoid exposure to moisture and light.

– Store the substance in a gas-tight container to prevent contact with air and moisture. – Only handle sodium hydride in environments that can contain explosions and fires if necessary.


Sodium hydride is widely used in the chemical synthesis of organic compounds. It is a powerful reducing agent capable of reducing functional groups, such as carbonyl compounds and halogens, to more reduced forms.

Additionally, NaH is commonly used in the preparation of metallic compounds, such as Grignard reagents. Conclusion:

Sodium hydride is a highly reactive chemical that must be handled with extreme caution.

It’s a powerful reducing agent and an excellent base used extensively in chemical synthesis. NaH is a crucial component in various chemical reactions that lead to the creation of diverse organic compounds.

By following proper safety procedures, one can utilize the compound effectively to synthesize beneficial compounds without any risk. The information presented in this article has helped clarify how to identify and prepare this chemical for usage in various applications.

Properties and Characteristics of Sodium Hydride

Sodium hydride (NaH) is a chemical compound characterized by a molar mass of 24.00 g/mol and a molecular formula of NaH. It is a silvery powder that is known for its high reactivity when exposed to moisture, non-polar solvents, and acidic solutions.

Here are some of the physical and chemical properties of NaH:

Physical Properties:


Sodium hydride appears as a white to grayish powder. It is usually prepared and stored under an inert fluid such as oil or argon to prevent contact with air or moisture.

Melting Point/Freezing Point:

NaH has a melting point of 801 degrees Celsius (1,474 degrees Fahrenheit) and a boiling point of 1,390 degrees Celsius (2,534 degrees Fahrenheit). At normal pressure, it doesn’t have a freezing point as it transforms from a solid to a gaseous state.

Boiling Point:

NaH’s high boiling point demonstrates the strength of the ionic bond between sodium and hydrogen atoms. The temperature at which the compound boils depends on the pressure it’s subjected to.

At standard atmospheric pressure, the boiling point of NaH is 1,390 degrees Celsius. Flash Point:

Sodium hydride has a flash point of 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius) when exposed to air and moisture, making it highly flammable.

This property makes it a hazardous substance in high-concentration environments. Density:

The density of sodium hydride is 1.39 g/cm3 at 20 degrees Celsius.

Its density is lower than that of water, indicating that it can float on the surface. Chemical Properties:

Atomic Properties:

Sodium hydride is composed of a sodium ion (Na+) and a hydride ion (H-).

It is a salt-like compound held together by an ionic bond. The sodium ion has a positive charge (cation), and the hydrogen ion has a negative charge (anion).

NaH has a crystalline octahedral structure with a sodium ion in the center, surrounded by six hydride ions. Prominent Reactions:

NaH is a strong reducing agent that easily gives up its hydrogen to other compounds, making it an ideal choice for organic synthesis.

In the presence of water, NaH violently reacts to produce hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide, resulting in a potentially hazardous situation. However, NaH is a valuable tool for reducing carbonyl compounds and relieving alcohols.

Organic chemistry is the main application where NaH plays a critical role. For instance, it used as a desiccant in organic synthesis, mainly in reactions involving water-sensitive compounds.

This is due to its reactive nature, which enables it to react with water to form hydrogen gas and a hydroxide salt. With good drying properties, it is usually added to solvents or as a packing agent in columns to eliminate excess water.

Another vital application of NaH is hydrogen storage. Sodium hydride can store up to ten percent of its weight in hydrogen, making it a feasible source of hydrogen fuel.

Besides, it is a powerful reducing agent used to synthesize various pharmaceuticals and other fine chemicals. Sodium Hydride Uses:

Reducing Agent:

Sodium hydride is a powerful reducing agent capable of reducing carbonyl compounds to more reduced forms, such as aldehydes or alcohols.

It can also reduce other functional groups, including nitro groups, halogens, and imines. Drying Agent:

NaH is an exceptional desiccant, and it’s often used in organic synthesis to remove any traces of water from a solvent or reaction mixture.

The compound reacts vigorously with water, providing a highly efficient and robust way of removing water. Fuel Cell:

Sodium hydride is a promising source of hydrogen fuel, as it stores up to 10% of hydrogen by weight, making it an excellent option for fuel cell technology.

A fuel cell works through the controlled release of hydrogen atoms, which produces electricity through an electrochemical reaction. Strong Base:

NaH is a robust and highly reactive base that is often used in organic chemistry to eliminate acidic protons from substrates.

With a high pH of 12-14, NaH is an excellent tool in the deprotonation of weak acidic compounds. Conclusion:

Sodium hydride is a powerful reducing agent, desiccant, and strong base with unique properties that make it an essential tool in the field of organic chemistry and fine chemical manufacturing.

It is a high reactive and flammable compound that should be handled with caution to prevent accidents and injuries. Sodium hydride has applications in diverse fields, including hydrogen fuel cell technology, and can take on multiple reducing agent roles in organic synthesis reactions.

Its robust desiccant properties also make it an ideal drying agent that safely removes water from solvents and reaction mixtures, making it a popular choice in various industrial fields. Is It Dangerous?

Sodium hydride is a highly reactive inorganic compound that poses a significant danger to humans and the environment. The compound is corrosive, flammable, and it is known to release toxic fumes when exposed to moisture or non-polar solvents.

Here are some of the hazards of dealing with sodium hydride:


Sodium hydride is a known irritant to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Exposure to the chemical can cause redness, swelling, itching, or burns to the skin and eyes.

The fumes released by the compound can also irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Corrosive and Inflammable:

Sodium hydride is highly corrosive, and it can react with moisture to form sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas, which is highly flammable.

When exposed to air, sodium hydride reacts vigorously, causing explosions, fires, and burns. It’s crucial to handle the chemical with extreme care and respect, especially when it comes to storage.

Poisonous Fumes:

When exposed to moisture, sodium hydride produces hydrogen gas which is highly flammable, and can lead to the formation of poisonous gases when it reacts with other chemicals. The gases can pose a significant threat to human health, causing severe respiratory problems and even death.

Careful Disposal:

Given the hazardous nature of sodium hydride, it is vital to dispose of it carefully. The substance must be stored in an airtight container away from flammable and oxidizable materials.

When disposing of the substance, the recommendation is to quench it in a non-polar solvent such as cyclohexane or tetrahydrofuran in small portions at a time to avoid an exothermic reaction. Interesting Facts:

Sodium hydride is a chemical that is rarely used for domestic purposes and is mainly used for industrial and laboratory applications.

Here are some interesting facts about sodium hydride:


Sodium hydride is relatively cheap, compared to other sodium compounds like sodium sulfate. The price ranges between $1 and $5 per kilogram depending on the location, packaging, and quantity purchased.

Clean Energy:

Sodium hydride has the potential to become a renewable energy source. When the substance is mixed with water, it reacts to create hydrogen gas, which can be used as a clean energy source in fuel cells.

Synthetic Reactions:

Sodium hydride is commonly used in organic chemistry as a reducing agent and a chemical intermediate. It is used to deprotonate acidic compounds, such as alcohols, to create new compounds with reduced functional groups.

It can also be used in reactions that produce pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and dyes. In conclusion, sodium hydride is a powerful chemical compound that is highly reactive, flammable, and corrosive.

Proper safety measure and storage must be observed to avoid an explosion or exposure to poisonous gases and other health hazards. Though dangerous and unsuitable for domestic use, it has industrial and laboratory applications in synthetic chemistry and hydrogen fuel cells.

With the potential to become a clean energy source, sodium hydride shows promise and makes it an important substance to study. In conclusion, sodium hydride is a highly reactive and potentially dangerous chemical compound that requires careful handling and disposal.

Its physical properties, including its appearance, melting and boiling points, flash point, and density, contribute to its reactivity. Chemically, sodium hydride is an effective reducing agent and strong base, often used in organic synthesis and as a drying agent.

However, it poses hazards such as skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, corrosiveness, flammability, and the release of toxic fumes. It is crucial to follow proper safety protocols to prevent accidents and ensure the safe use and disposal of sodium hydride.

Despite its risks, sodium hydride’s potential applications in clean energy and pharmaceutical synthesis make it an important compound worthy of study and exploration. FAQs:


Is sodium hydride dangerous to handle? Sodium hydride is highly reactive, corrosive, and flammable, posing risks to human health and safety.

2. What precautions should I take when handling sodium hydride?

Ensure proper personal protective equipment, work in a well-ventilated area, and store it away from flammable and oxidizable materials. 3.

How is sodium hydride commonly used in chemistry? It is used as a powerful reducing agent and strong base, playing a significant role in organic synthesis, as a drying agent, and in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

4. Can sodium hydride be safely stored and disposed of?

Sodium hydride should be stored in an airtight container away from moisture and air. Disposal should be done carefully, quenching the substance in small portions in a non-polar solvent.

5. What are the potential applications of sodium hydride in clean energy?

Sodium hydride has the ability to release hydrogen gas when mixed with water, making it a potential renewable energy source in fuel cells. Remember to take extreme caution when handling sodium hydride due to its hazardous properties and always prioritize safety measures to prevent accidents.

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