A Chaotropic agent is an agent which causes molecular structure to be disrupted; in particular, those formed by nonbonding forces such as hydrogen bonding, salt bridges, and the hydrophobic effect. Often structural features, as detected by means such as circular dichroism can be titrated in a chaotrope concentration-dependent fashion.
The most commonly used chaotropes are 6~8M urea and 6M guanidine, with urea being an uncharged molecule and guanidine being a hydrochloride salt.
High generic salts can have chaotropic properties, by shielding charges and preventing the stabilization of salt bridges. Hydrogen bonding is stronger in nonpolar media, so salts, which increase the dipole moment of the solvent, can also destabilize hydrogen bonding.