Guanidine Hydrochloride: Properties, Applications, and Safety Considerations

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Guanidine hydrochloride, also known as guanidinium chloride or GuHCl, is a chemical compound with various applications in scientific research, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical industries. This blog post aims to explore the properties, applications, and safety considerations associated with guanidine hydrochloride.


Guanidine hydrochloride is a white, crystalline solid that is highly soluble in water. It has a chemical formula of CH₅N₃•HCl and a molar mass of 95.53 g/mol. The compound has a high melting point of around 180°C and is hygroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs moisture from the environment.


1. Protein Denaturation and Unfolding:

Guanidine hydrochloride is widely used in biochemistry and biotechnology for protein denaturation and unfolding. It disrupts the hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic interactions in proteins, leading to the denaturation of their native structure. This property makes it valuable for protein purification, enzyme inactivation, and unfolding proteins for subsequent analysis.

2. Nucleic Acid Purification:

Guanidine hydrochloride is utilized in nucleic acid extraction and purification procedures. It helps in lysing cells and inactivating nucleases, preventing degradation of nucleic acids. By disrupting the protein structure and denaturing enzymes, guanidine hydrochloride assists in releasing DNA or RNA from cellular components, facilitating subsequent purification steps.

3. Chemical Synthesis:

Guanidine hydrochloride serves as a versatile reagent in organic synthesis. It can be used as a nitrogen source for the synthesis of various guanidine derivatives, such as guanidines, amidines, and carbamidines. These compounds find applications in pharmaceutical synthesis, agrochemicals, and other areas of organic chemistry.

4. Biological Buffer:

Guanidine hydrochloride can act as a buffering agent within a specific pH range. It helps maintain the desired pH conditions in certain biochemical and molecular biology experiments, such as enzyme assays, protein folding studies, and DNA hybridization.

Safety Considerations:

While working with guanidine hydrochloride, it is essential to consider the following safety precautions:

1. Handling and Storage:

Guanidine hydrochloride should be handled with care to avoid inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin or eyes. Personal protective equipment, including gloves and goggles, should be worn during handling. It is advisable to store guanidine hydrochloride in a tightly sealed container away from moisture and incompatible substances.

2. Toxicity:

Guanidine hydrochloride is a hazardous substance and should be handled in a well-ventilated area to prevent inhalation of dust or vapors. Prolonged exposure or ingestion of guanidine hydrochloride can cause irritation to the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. It is crucial to follow proper safety protocols and consult the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for specific information.

3. Compatibility:

Guanidine hydrochloride is incompatible with strong oxidizing agents, strong acids, and certain metal ions. These materials can react with guanidine hydrochloride, resulting in hazardous conditions or decomposition of the compound. It is necessary to handle and store guanidine hydrochloride separately from incompatible substances.


Guanidine hydrochloride is a versatile compound with significant applications in protein biochemistry, nucleic acid purification, organic synthesis, and buffer systems. Its ability to denature proteins and disrupt hydrogen bonding makes it an invaluable tool in various scientific disciplines. However, it is important to handle guanidine hydrochloride with caution, adhere to safety guidelines, and be aware of its potential.

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