Quaternary ammonium salts
Fanta, Paul E. Department of Chemistry, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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Analogs of ammonium salts in which organic groups have been substituted for all four hydrogens of the original ammonium cation. Substituents may be alkyl, aryl, or aralkyl, or the nitrogen may be part of a ring system. Such compounds are usually prepared by treatment of an amine with an alkylating reagent under suitable conditions. They are typically crystalline solids which are soluble in water and are strong electrolytes. Treatment of the salts with silver oxide, potassium hydroxide, or an ion-exchange resin converts them to quaternary ammonium hydroxides, which are very strong bases, as shown in the reaction below.
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