# How to Determine the Absolute Number of Hydrogens from Integration Ratios

When you use hydrogen NMR (or ^{1}H NMR) to determine how many hydrogens are in a molecule, this only gives you the relative number of hydrogens, not the absolute number. For example, say that your relative ratio of hydrogens is 1:2, as shown here.

This does not necessarily mean that the peak on the left represents one hydrogen, and the peak on the right represents two hydrogens. Remember that this is the *relative* ratio of hydrogens, not the *absolute* ratio, which means that you know only that the larger peak has twice the number of hydrogens as the smaller peak; you don’t know the actual number of hydrogens. To find the absolute number of hydrogens, you must compare your ratio to the molecular formula.

If the sum of all the numbers in the relative ratio matches the number of hydrogens in the molecular formula — in this example, if there were only three hydrogens in the molecular formula — *then* you could say that the peak on the left represents one hydrogen and the peak on the right represents two hydrogens, because then all the hydrogens in the molecule would be accounted for. But if the molecular formula had six hydrogens in it, you would have to multiply the relative ratio by two to make the number in your spectrum match the number in your molecular formula — so in that case the peak that integrates for one would represent two hydrogens and the peak that integrates for two would represent four hydrogens. If there were nine hydrogens, you would multiply the relative integrations by three, and so forth.