Sodium phenoxide

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Sodium phenoxide
Structural formula of sodium phenoxide.svg
Other names
Sodium phenolate
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.004.862
Molar mass 116.09 g/mol
Appearance White solid
Main hazards Harmful, Corrosive
Flash point Nonflammable
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

Sodium phenoxide (sodium phenolate) is an organic compound with the formula NaOC6H5. It is a white crystalline solid. Its anion, phenoxide, also known as phenolate, is the conjugate base of phenol. It is used as a precursor to many other organic compounds, such as aryl ethers.

Synthesis and structure[edit]

Most commonly, solutions of sodium phenoxide are produced by treating phenol with sodium hydroxide.[1] Anhydrous derivatives can be prepared by combining phenol and sodium:

Na + HOC6H5 → NaOC6H5 + 1/2 H2

Like other sodium alkoxides, crystalline sodium phenolate adopts a complex structure involving multiple Na-O bonds. Solvent-free material is polymeric, each Na center being bound to three oxygen ligands as well as the phenyl ring. Adducts of sodium phenoxide are molecular, such as the cubane-type cluster [NaOPh]4(HMPA)4.[2]

Sodium phenoxide can be produced by the "alkaline fusion" of benzenesulfonic acid, whereby the sulfonate groups are displaced by hydroxide:

C6H5SO3Na + 2 NaOH → C6H5ONa + Na2SO3

This route once was the principal industrial route to phenol.

Subunit of the struture of solvent-free sodium phenoxide, illustrating the binding of phenoxide to sodium through both the arene and the oxygen.


Sodium phenoxide is a moderately strong base. Acidification gives phenol:[3]

PhOH ⇌ PhO + H+          (K = 10−10)

Alkylation affords phenyl ethers:[1]

NaOC6H5 + RBr → ROC6H5 + NaBr

The conversion is an extension of the Williamson ether synthesis. With acylating agents, one obtains esters:

NaOC6H5 + RC(O)Cl → RCO2C6H5 + NaCl

Sodium phenoxide is susceptible to certain types of electrophilic aromatic substitutions. For example, it reacts with carbon dioxide to form 2-hydroxybenzoate, the conjugate base of salicylic acid. In general however, electrophiles irreversibly attack the oxygen center in phenoxide.

The Kolbe–Schmitt reaction.


  1. ^ a b C. S. Marvel, A. L. Tanenbaum (1929). "γ-Phenoxypropyl Bromide". Org. Synth. 9: 72. doi:10.15227/orgsyn.009.0072.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Michael Kunert, Eckhard Dinjus, Maria Nauck, Joachim Sieler "Structure and Reactivity of Sodium Phenoxide - Following the Course of the Kolbe-Schmitt Reaction" Chemische Berichte 1997 Volume 130, Issue 10, pages 1461–1465. doi:10.1002/cber.19971301017
  3. ^ Smith, Michael B.; March, Jerry (2007), Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions, Mechanisms, and Structure (6th ed.), New York: Wiley-Interscience, ISBN 978-0-471-72091-1

External links[edit]

Media related to Sodium phenoxide at Wikimedia Commons