Antimony trichloride

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Antimony trichloride
Antimony trichloride solid.jpeg
Stereo structural formula of antimony trichloride SbCl3.png
Stereo structural formula of antimony trichloride
Ball and stick model of antimony trichloride Antimony-trichloride-3D-balls.png
Ball and stick model of antimony trichloride
Preferred IUPAC name
Antimony trichloride
Systematic IUPAC name
Other names
Antimony(III) chloride, Butter of antimony, Antimonous chloride, Stibous chloride, Trichlorostibine
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.030.031 OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
EC Number
  • 233-047-2
MeSH Antimony+trichloride
PubChem CID
RTECS number
  • CC4900000
UN number 1733
  • InChI=1S/3ClH.Sb/h3*1H;/q;;;+3/p-3 Yes check.svgY
  • InChI=1S/3ClH.Sb/h3*1H;/q;;;+3/p-3
  • InChI=1/3ClH.Sb/h3*1H;/q;;;+3/p-3
  • Cl[Sb](Cl)Cl
Molar mass 228.11 g·mol−1
AppearanceColorless solid, very hygroscopic
Odor Sharp, pungent
Density 3.14 g/cm3 (25 °C)
2.51 g/cm3 (150 °C) [1]
Melting point 73.4 °C (164.1 °F; 346.5 K) [2]
Boiling point 223.5 °C (434.3 °F; 496.6 K)
601.1 g/100 ml (0 °C) [1]
985.1 g/100 mL (25 °C)
1.357 kg/100 mL (40 °C) [3]
Solubility Soluble in acetone, ethanol, CH2Cl2, phenyls, ether, dioxane, CS2, CCl4, CHCl3, cyclohexane, selenium(IV) oxychloride
Insoluble in pyridine, quinoline, organic bases
Solubility in acetic acid 143.9 g/100 g (0 °C)
205.8 g/100 g (10 °C)
440.5 g/100 g (25 °C) [4]
693.7 g/100 g (45 °C) [3]
Solubility in acetone 537.6 g/100 g (18 °C) [3] [4]
Solubility in benzoyl chloride 139.2 g/100 g (15 °C)
169.5 g/100 g (25 °C) [4]
2.76 kg/100 g (70 °C) [3]
Solubility in hydrochloric acid 20 °C:
8.954 g/ g (4.63% w/w)
8.576 g/ g (14.4% w/w)
7.898 g/ g (36.7% w/w) [3]
Solubility in p-Cymene 69.5 g/100 g (-3.5 °C)
85.5 g/100 g (10 °C)
150 g/100 g (30 °C)
2.17 kg/100 g (70 °C) [3]
Vapor pressure 13.33 Pa (18.1 °C) [4]
0.15 kPa (50 °C)
2.6 kPa (100 °C) [5]
-86.7·10−6 cm3/mol
1.46 [1]
3.93 D (20 °C) [4]
183.3 J/mol·K [4]
Std molar
110.5 J/mol·K [4]
-381.2 kJ/mol [4]
-322.5 kJ/mol [4]
GHS labelling:
GHS-pictogram-acid.svg GHS-pictogram-pollu.svg [2]
H314, H411 [2]
P273, P280, P305+P351+P338, P310 [2]
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
Flash point Non-flammable
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
525 mg/kg (oral, rat)
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 0.5 mg/m3 (as Sb) [6]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 0.5 mg/m3 (as Sb) [6]
Safety data sheet (SDS) ICSC 1224
Related compounds
Other anions
Antimony trifluoride
Antimony tribromide
Antimony triiodide
Other cations
Nitrogen trichloride
Phosphorus trichloride
Arsenic trichloride
Bismuth chloride
Related compounds
Antimony pentachloride
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Antimony trichloride is the chemical compound with the formula SbCl3. It is a soft colorless solid with a pungent odor and was known to alchemists as butter of antimony.



Antimony trichloride is prepared by reaction of chlorine with antimony, antimony tribromide, antimony trioxide, or antimony trisulfide. It also may be made by treating antimony trioxide with concentrated hydrochloric acid.


Antimony trichloride solution in hydrochloric acid Antimony trichloride solution.JPG
Antimony trichloride solution in hydrochloric acid

SbCl3 is readily hydrolysed and samples of SbCl3 must be protected from moisture. With a limited amount of water it forms antimony oxychloride releasing hydrogen chloride:

SbCl3 + H2O → SbOCl + 2 HCl

With more water it forms Sb
which on heating to 460° under argon converts to Sb
. [7]

SbCl3 readily forms complexes with halides, but the stoichiometries are not a good guide to the composition, [7] for example the (C
contains a chain anion with distorted SbIII octahedra. Similarly the salt (C
contains a polymeric anion of composition [SbCl2−
with distorted octahedral SbIII. [8]

With nitrogen donor ligands, L, complexes with a stereochemically active lone-pair are formed, for example Ψ-trigonal bipyramidal LSbCl3 and Ψ-octahedral L
. [9]

SbCl3 is only a weak Lewis base, [7] however some complexes are known for example the carbonyl complexes, Fe(CO)
and Ni(CO)
. [9]


In the gas phase SbCl3 is pyramidal with a Cl-Sb-Cl angle of 97.2° and a bond length of 233 pm. [10] In SbCl3 each Sb has three Cl atoms at 234 pm showing the persistence of the molecular SbCl3 unit, however there are a further five neighboring Cl atoms, two at 346 pm, one at 361 pm, and two at 374 pm. These eight atoms can be considered as forming a bicapped trigonal prism. These distances can be contrasted with BiCl3 which has three near neighbors at 250 pm, with two at 324 pm, and three at a mean of 336 pm. The point to note here is that the all eight close neighbours of Bi are closer than the eight closest neighbours of Sb, demonstrating the tendency for Bi to adopt higher coordination numbers. [10] [7]


SbCl3 is a reagent for detecting vitamin A and related carotenoids in the Carr-Price test. The antimony trichloride reacts with the carotenoid to form a blue complex that can be measured by colorimetry.

Antimony trichloride has also been used as an adulterant to enhance the louche effect in absinthe. It has been used in the past to dissolve and remove horn stubs from calves without having to cut them off.

It is also used as a catalyst for polymerization, hydrocracking, and chlorination reactions; as a mordant; and in the production of other antimony salts. Its solution is used as an analytical reagent for chloral, aromatics, and vitamin A. [11] It has a very potential use as a Lewis acid catalyst in synthetic organic transformation.

A solution of antimony trichloride in liquid hydrogen sulfide is a good conductor, though the applications of such are limited by the very low temperature or high pressure required for hydrogen sulfide to be liquid. [12]

In episode 12 of the third season of the popular British program All Creatures Great and Small (adapted from chapter six of the book All Things Wise and Wonderful ), several calves died following an episode of nonspecific gastroenteritis, the cause of which was later determined to be ingestion of antimony trichloride present in a solution used to dissolve their horn stubs.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antimony</span> Chemical element, symbol Sb and atomic number 51

Antimony is a chemical element with the symbol Sb (from Latin: stibium) and atomic number 51. A lustrous gray metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineral stibnite (Sb2S3). Antimony compounds have been known since ancient times and were powdered for use as medicine and cosmetics, often known by the Arabic name kohl. The earliest known description of the metal in the West was written in 1540 by Vannoccio Biringuccio.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aluminium chloride</span> Chemical compound

Aluminium chloride, also known as aluminium trichloride, is an inorganic compound with the formula AlCl3. It forms hexahydrate with the formula [Al(H2O)6]Cl3, containing six water molecules of hydration. Both are colourless crystals, but samples are often contaminated with iron(III) chloride, giving a yellow color.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cadmium chloride</span> Chemical compound

Cadmium chloride is a white crystalline compound of cadmium and chloride, with the formula CdCl2. This salt is a hygroscopic solid that is highly soluble in water and slightly soluble in alcohol. The crystal structure of cadmium chloride (described below), is a reference for describing other crystal structures. Also known are CdCl2•H2O and CdCl2•5H2O.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phosphorus pentachloride</span> Chemical compound

Phosphorus pentachloride is the chemical compound with the formula PCl5. It is one of the most important phosphorus chlorides, others being PCl3 and POCl3. PCl5 finds use as a chlorinating reagent. It is a colourless, water-sensitive and moisture-sensitive solid, although commercial samples can be yellowish and contaminated with hydrogen chloride.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phosphorus trichloride</span> Chemical compound

Phosphorus trichloride is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula PCl3. A colorless liquid when pure, it is an important industrial chemical, being used for the manufacture of phosphites and other organophosphorus compounds. It is toxic and reacts readily with water to release hydrogen chloride.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Octahedral molecular geometry</span> Molecular geometry

In chemistry, octahedral molecular geometry, also called square bipyramidal, describes the shape of compounds with six atoms or groups of atoms or ligands symmetrically arranged around a central atom, defining the vertices of an octahedron. The octahedron has eight faces, hence the prefix octa. The octahedron is one of the Platonic solids, although octahedral molecules typically have an atom in their centre and no bonds between the ligand atoms. A perfect octahedron belongs to the point group Oh. Examples of octahedral compounds are sulfur hexafluoride SF6 and molybdenum hexacarbonyl Mo(CO)6. The term "octahedral" is used somewhat loosely by chemists, focusing on the geometry of the bonds to the central atom and not considering differences among the ligands themselves. For example, [Co(NH3)6]3+, which is not octahedral in the mathematical sense due to the orientation of the N−H bonds, is referred to as octahedral.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gadolinium(III) chloride</span> Chemical compound

Gadolinium(III) chloride, also known as gadolinium trichloride, is GdCl3. It is a colorless, hygroscopic, water-soluble solid. The hexahydrate GdCl3∙6H2O is commonly encountered and is sometimes also called gadolinium trichloride. Gd3+ species are of special interest because the ion has the maximum number of unpaired spins possible, at least for known elements. With seven valence electrons and seven available f-orbitals, all seven electrons are unpaired and symmetrically arranged around the metal. The high magnetism and high symmetry combine to make Gd3+ a useful component in NMR spectroscopy and MRI.

Antimony pentafluoride is the inorganic compound with the formula SbF5. This colourless, viscous liquid is a valuable Lewis acid and a component of the superacid fluoroantimonic acid, formed when mixing liquid HF with liquid SbF5 in a 2:1 ratio. It is notable for its Lewis acidity and its ability to react with almost all known compounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arsenic pentoxide</span> Chemical compound

Arsenic pentoxide is the inorganic compound with the formula As2O5. This glassy, white, deliquescent solid is relatively unstable, consistent with the rarity of the As(V) oxidation state. More common, and far more important commercially, is arsenic(III) oxide (As2O3). All inorganic arsenic compounds are highly toxic and thus find only limited commercial applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antimony pentachloride</span> Chemical compound

Antimony pentachloride is a chemical compound with the formula SbCl5. It is a colourless oil, but typical samples are yellowish due to dissolved chlorine. Owing to its tendency to hydrolyse to hydrochloric acid, SbCl5 is a highly corrosive substance and must be stored in glass or PTFE containers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antimony pentoxide</span> Chemical compound

Antimony pentoxide (molecular formula: Sb2O5) is a chemical compound of antimony and oxygen. It contains antimony in the +5 oxidation state.

Antimony trifluoride is the inorganic compound with the formula SbF3. Sometimes called Swarts' reagent, is one of two principal fluorides of antimony, the other being SbF5. It appears as a white solid. As well as some industrial applications, it is used as a reagent in inorganic and organofluorine chemistry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bismuth chloride</span> Chemical compound

Bismuth chloride (or butter of bismuth) is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula BiCl3. It is a covalent compound and is the common source of the Bi3+ ion. In the gas phase and in the crystal, the species adopts a pyramidal structure, in accord with VSEPR theory.

In chemistry, crystallography, and materials science, the coordination number, also called ligancy, of a central atom in a molecule or crystal is the number of atoms, molecules or ions bonded to it. The ion/molecule/atom surrounding the central ion/molecule/atom is called a ligand. This number is determined somewhat differently for molecules than for crystals.

Antimony pentasulfide is an inorganic compound of antimony and sulfur, also known as antimony red. It is a nonstoichiometric compound with a variable composition. Its structure is unknown. Commercial samples are usually contaminated with sulfur, which may be removed by washing with carbon disulfide in a Soxhlet extractor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Berkelium compounds</span> Any chemical compound having at least one berkelium atom

Berkelium forms a number of chemical compounds, where it normally exists in an oxidation state of +3 or +4, and behaves similarly to its lanthanide analogue, terbium. Like all actinides, berkelium easily dissolves in various aqueous inorganic acids, liberating gaseous hydrogen and converting into the trivalent oxidation state. This trivalent state is the most stable, especially in aqueous solutions, but tetravalent berkelium compounds are also known. The existence of divalent berkelium salts is uncertain and has only been reported in mixed lanthanum chloride-strontium chloride melts. Aqueous solutions of Bk3+ ions are green in most acids. The color of the Bk4+ ions is yellow in hydrochloric acid and orange-yellow in sulfuric acid. Berkelium does not react rapidly with oxygen at room temperature, possibly due to the formation of a protective oxide surface layer; however, it reacts with molten metals, hydrogen, halogens, chalcogens and pnictogens to form various binary compounds. Berkelium can also form several organometallic compounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rhenium(IV) chloride</span> Chemical compound

Rhenium(IV) chloride is the inorganic compound with the formula ReCl4. This black solid is of interest as a binary phase but otherwise is of little practical value. A second polymorph of ReCl4 is also known.

Niobium(III) chloride also known as niobium trichloride is a compound of niobium and chlorine. The binary phase NbCl3 is not well characterized but many adducts are known.

Gallium compounds compounds containing the element gallium. These compounds are found primarily in the +3 oxidation state. The +1 oxidation state is also found in some compounds, although it is less common than it is for gallium's heavier congeners indium and thallium. For example, the very stable GaCl2 contains both gallium(I) and gallium(III) and can be formulated as GaIGaIIICl4; in contrast, the monochloride is unstable above 0 °C, disproportionating into elemental gallium and gallium(III) chloride. Compounds containing Ga–Ga bonds are true gallium(II) compounds, such as GaS (which can be formulated as Ga24+(S2−)2) and the dioxan complex Ga2Cl4(C4H8O2)2.


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    octahedra in bis(n-butylammonium) pentachloroantimonate(III) (C
    ". Z. Naturforsch. B 2006, 61, 1101–1109. Abstract (PDF)
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