Chemistry:Orthoformic acid

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Orthoformic acid or methanetriol is a hypothetical compound with the formula HC(OH)3. In this molecule, the central carbon atom is bound to one hydrogen and three hydroxyl groups.

Orthoformic acid has not been isolated to date, and is believed to be unstable, decomposing into water and formic acid.[1]


Methanetriol esters, known as orthoformates, are well known and commercially available.[2][3] Like acetals, they are stable towards bases but easily hydrolyzed in acidic conditions to the alcohol and an ester of formic acid. They are used as mild dehydrating agent. Especially well known are trimethyl orthoformate, triethyl orthoformate, and triisopropyl orthoformate.

See also


  1. Böhm, S., Antipova, D. and Kuthan, J. (1996), "Study of methanetriol decomposition mechanisms". International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, volume 60, pages 649–655. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-461X(1996)60:2<649::AID-QUA3>3.0.CO;2-X
  2. Peter P. T. Sah, Tsu Sheng Ma (1932), ""ESTERS OF ORTHOFORMIC ACID". J. Am. Chem. Soc., volume 54, issue 7, pages 2964–2966 doi:10.1021/ja01346a048
  3. H. W. Post (1943), "The Chemistry of the Aliphatic Orthoesters", Reinhold, 188 pages acid was the original source. Read more.