Reagent Definition and Examples

What Is a Reagent in Chemistry?

A reagent is a substance that is used in chemical analysis and to synthesize other products.
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A reagent is a compound or mixture added to a system to cause a chemical reaction or test if a reaction occurs. A reagent may be used to find out whether or not a specific chemical substance is present by causing a reaction to occur with it.

Reagent Examples

Reagents may be compounds or mixtures. In organic chemistry, most are small organic molecules or inorganic compounds. Examples of reagents include Grignard reagent, Tollens' reagent, Fehling's reagent, Collins reagent, and Fenton's reagent. However, a substance may be used as a reagent without having the word "reagent" in its name.

Reagent Versus Reactant

The term reagent is often used in place of reactant, however, a reagent may not necessarily be consumed in a reaction as a reactant would be. For example, a catalyst is a reagent but is not consumed in the reaction. A solvent often is involved in a chemical reaction but it's considered a reagent, not a reactant.

What Reagent-Grade Means

When purchasing chemicals, you may see them identified as "reagent-grade." What this means is that the substance is sufficiently pure to be used for physical testing, chemical analysis, or for chemical reactions that require pure chemicals. The standards required for a chemical to meet reagent-grade quality are determined by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and ASTM International, among others.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Reagent Definition and Examples." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 26). Reagent Definition and Examples. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Reagent Definition and Examples." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).