Tin(IV) Chloride
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Tin IV Chloride
Tin(IV) chloride
Tin (IV) chloride
Anhydrous Tin(IV) chloride
Tin(IV) chloride pentahydrate.jpg
Tin(IV) chloride pentahydrate
SnCl4 OH2 2.svg
IUPAC names
Tin tetrachloride
Tin(IV) chloride
Other names
Stannic chloride
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.028.717 Edit this at Wikidata
EC Number
  • 231-588-9
RTECS number
  • XP8750000
UN number 1827
  • InChI=1S/4ClH.Sn/h4*1H;/q;;;;+4/p-4 checkY
  • InChI=1/4ClH.Sn/h4*1H;/q;;;;+4/p-4
  • Cl[Sn](Cl)(Cl)Cl
Molar mass 260.50 g/mol (anhydrous)
350.60 g/mol (pentahydrate)
Appearance Colorless to slightly yellow fuming liquid
Odor Acrid
Density 2.226 g/cm3 (anhydrous)
2.04 g/cm3 (pentahydrate)
Melting point -34.07 °C (-29.33 °F; 239.08 K) (anhydrous)
56 °C (133 °F; 329 K) (pentahydrate)
Boiling point 114.15 °C (237.47 °F; 387.30 K)
hydrolysis,very hygroscopic (anhydrous)
very soluble (pentahydrate)
Solubility soluble in alcohol, benzene, toluene, chloroform, acetone, kerosene, CCl4, methanol, gasoline, CS2
Vapor pressure 2.4 kPa
−115·10-6 cm3/mol
monoclinic (P21/c)
Safety data sheet ICSC 0953
Corrosive (C)
R-phrases (outdated) R34, R52/53
S-phrases (outdated) (S1/2), S7/8, S26, S45, S61
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
Related compounds
Other anions
Tin(IV) fluoride
Tin(IV) bromide
Tin(IV) iodide
Other cations
Carbon tetrachloride
Silicon tetrachloride
Germanium tetrachloride
Tin(II) chloride
Lead(IV) chloride
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Tin(IV) chloride, also known as tin tetrachloride or stannic chloride, is an inorganic compound with the formula SnCl4. It is a colorless hygroscopic liquid, which fumes on contact with air. It is used as a precursor to other tin compounds.[1] It was first discovered by Andreas Libavius (1550-1616) and was known as spiritus fumans libavii.


It is prepared from reaction of chlorine gas with tin at 115 °C (239 °F).

Sn + 2 Cl2 -> SnCl4


Anhydrous tin(IV) chloride solidifies at -33 °C to give monoclinic crystals with the P21/c space group. It is isostructural with SnBr4. The molecules adopt near-perfect tetrahedral symmetry with average Sn-Cl distances of 227.9(3) pm.[2]

Structure of solid SnCl4.


Several hydrates of tin tetrachloride are known. The pentahydrate, SnCl4·5H2O was formerly known as butter of tin. They all consist of [SnCl4(H2O)2] molecules together with varying amounts of water of crystallization. The additional water molecules link together the molecules of [SnCl4(H2O)2] through hydrogen bonds.[3] Although the pentahydrate is the most common hydrate, lower hydrates have also been characterised.[4]


Aside from water, other Lewis bases form adducts with SnCl4. These include ammonia and organophosphines. The complex [SnCl6]2- is formed with hydrochloric acid making hexachlorostannic acid.[1]

Precursor to organotin compounds

Anhydrous tin(IV) chloride is a major precursor in organotin chemistry. Upon treatment with Grignard reagents, tin(IV) chloride gives tetraalkyltin compounds:[5]

SnCl4 + 4 RMgCl -> SnR4 + 4 MgCl2

Anhydrous tin(IV) chloride reacts with tetraorganotin compounds in redistribution reactions:

SnCl4 + SnR4 -> 2 SnCl2R2

These organotin halides are more useful than the tetraorganotin derivatives.

Applications in high organic synthesis

Although a specialized application, SnCl4 is used in Friedel-Crafts reactions as a Lewis acid catalyst for alkylation and cyclisation.[1] Stannic chloride is used in chemical reactions with fuming (90%) nitric acid for the selective nitration of activated aromatic rings in the presence of inactivated ones.[6]


The main application of SnCl4 is as a precursor to organotin compounds, which are used as catalysts and polymer stabilizers.[7] It can be used in a sol-gel process to prepare SnO2 coatings (for example for toughening glass); nanocrystals of SnO2 can be produced by refinements of this method.


Stannic chloride was used as a chemical weapon in World War I, as it formed an irritating (but non-deadly) dense smoke on contact with air: it was substituted for by a mixture of silicon tetrachloride and titanium tetrachloride near the end of the war due to shortages of tin.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Egon Wiberg, Arnold Frederick Holleman (2001). Inorganic Chemistry. Elsevier. ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
  2. ^ Reuter, Hans; Pawlak, Rüdiger (April 2000). "Die Molekül- und Kristallstruktur von Zinn(IV)-chlorid". Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie (in German). 626 (4): 925-929. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1521-3749(200004)626:4<925::AID-ZAAC925>3.0.CO;2-R.
  3. ^ Barnes, John C.; Sampson, Hazel A.; Weakley, Timothy J. R. (1980). "Structures of di-?-hydroxobis[aquatrichlorotin(IV)]-1,4-dioxane(1/3), di-?-hydroxobis[aquatrichlorotin(IV)]-1,8-epoxy-p-menthane(1/4), di-m-hydroxobis[aquatribromotin(IV)]-1,8-epoxy-p-menthane(1/4), di-?-hydroxobis[aquatrichlorotin(IV)], and cis-diaquatetrachlorotin(IV)". J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. (6): 949. doi:10.1039/DT9800000949.
  4. ^ Genge, Anthony R. J.; Levason, William; Patel, Rina; Reid, Gillian; Webster, Michael (2004). "Hydrates of tin tetrachloride". Acta Crystallographica Section C. 60 (4): i47-i49. doi:10.1107/S0108270104005633. PMID 15071197.
  5. ^ Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, Alan (1997). Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-08-037941-8.
  6. ^ Thurston, David E.; Murty, Varanasi S.; Langley, David R.; Jones, Gary B. (1990). "O-Debenzylation of a Pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepine in the Presence of a Carbinolamine Functionality: Synthesis of DC-81". Synthesis. 1990: 81-84. doi:10.1055/s-1990-26795.
  7. ^ G. G. Graf "Tin, Tin Alloys, and Tin Compounds" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2005 Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a27_049
  8. ^ Fries, Amos A. (2008). Chemical Warfare. Read. pp. 148-49, 407. ISBN 978-1-4437-3840-8..

External links

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