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PRODUCT DETAILS
CHLORIDES > Ferric Chloride

Iron(III) chloride, also called ferric chloride, is an industrial scale commodity chemical compound, with the formula FeCl3.

Formula: FeCl3, Molar mass: 162.2 g/mol, Melting point: 306 °C, Density: 2.90 g/cm³, Boiling point: 315 °C, Soluble in: Water, IUPAC ID: Iron trichloride, Iron(III) chloride

Uses :
Industrial

In industrial application, iron(III) chloride is used in sewage treatment and drinking water production. In this application, FeCl3 in slightly basic water reacts with the hydroxide ion to form a floc of iron(III) hydroxide, or more precisely formulated as FeO(OH)−, that can remove suspended materials.

    [Fe(H2O)6]3+ + 4 HO− → [Fe(H2O)2(HO)4]− + 4 H2O → [Fe(H2O)O(HO)2]− + 6 H2O

It is also used as a leaching agent in chloride hydrometallurgy, for example in the production of Si from FeSi. (Silgrain process)

Another important application of iron(III) chloride is etching copper in two-step redox reaction to copper(I) chloride and then to copper(II) chloride in the production of printed circuit boards.

    FeCl3 + Cu → FeCl2 + CuCl
    FeCl3 + CuCl → FeCl2 + CuCl2

Iron(III) chloride is used as catalyst for the reaction of ethylene with chlorine, forming ethylene dichloride (1,2-dichloroethane), an important commodity chemical, which is mainly used for the industrial production of vinyl chloride, the monomer for making PVC.

    H2C=CH2 + Cl2 → ClCH2CH2Cl

Laboratory use

In the laboratory iron(III) chloride is commonly employed as a Lewis acid for catalysing reactions such as chlorination of aromatic compounds and Friedel-Crafts reaction of aromatics. It is less powerful than aluminium chloride, but in some cases this mildness leads to higher yields, for example in the alkylation of benzene:

    Iron(III) chloride as a catalyst

The ferric chloride test is a traditional colorimetric test for phenols, which uses a 1% iron(III) chloride solution that has been neutralised with sodium hydroxide until a slight precipitate of FeO(OH) is formed.[17] The mixture is filtered before use. The organic substance is dissolved in water, methanol or ethanol, then the neutralised iron(III) chloride solution is added—a transient or permanent coloration (usually purple, green or blue) indicates the presence of a phenol or enol.

This reaction is exploited in the Trinder spot test, which is used to indicate the presence of salicylates, particularly salicylic acid, which contains a phenolic OH group.

Other uses
 

  •     Used in anhydrous form as a drying reagent in certain reactions.
  •     Used to detect the presence of phenol compounds in organic synthesis e.g.: examining purity of synthesised Aspirin.
  •     Used in water and wastewater treatment to precipitate phosphate as iron(III) phosphate.
  •     Used by American coin collectors to identify the dates of Buffalo nickels that are so badly worn that the date is no longer visible.
  •     Used by knife craftsmen and sword smiths to stain blades, as to give a contrasting effect to the metal, and to view metal layering or imperfections.
  •     Used to etch the widmanstatten pattern in iron meteorites.
  •     Necessary for the etching of photogravure plates for printing photographic and fine art images in intaglio and for etching rotogravure cylinders used in the printing industry.
  •     Used to make printed circuit boards (PCBs).
  •     Used in veterinary practice to treat overcropping of an animal's claws, particularly when the overcropping results in bleeding.
  •     Reacts with cyclopentadienylmagnesium bromide in one preparation of ferrocene, a metal-sandwich complex.
  •     Sometimes used in a technique of Raku ware firing, the iron coloring a pottery piece shades of pink, brown, and orange.
  •     Used to test the pitting and crevice corrosion resistance of stainless steels and other alloys.
  •     Used in conjunction with NaI in acetonitrile to mildly reduce organic azides to primary amines.
  •     Used in an animal thrombosis model.