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SOLVENTS > Carbon Tetra Chloride

Carbon tetrachloride, also known by many other names, is the organic compound with the formula CCl4. It was formerly widely used in fire extinguishers, as a precursor to refrigerants, and as a cleaning agent.

Formula: CCl4, Density: 1.59 g/cm³, IUPAC ID: Tetrachloromethane, Molar mass: 153.82 g/mol, Boiling point: 76.72 °C, Melting point: -22.92 °C, Soluble in: Water

Uses :

A brass, Pyrene carbon-tetrachloride, fire extinguisher.

In the 20th century, carbon tetrachloride was widely used as a dry cleaning solvent, as a refrigerant, and in lava lamps.

In 1910, The Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Delaware filed a patent to use carbon tetrachloride to extinguish fires.The liquid vaporized and extinguished the flames by inhibiting the chemical chain reaction of the combustion process (it was an early 20th-century presupposition that the fire suppression ability of carbon tetrachloride relied on oxygen removal.) In 1911, they patented a small, portable extinguisher that used the chemical. This consisted of a brass bottle with an integrated handpump that was used to expel a jet of liquid toward the fire. As the container was unpressurized, it could be easily refilled after use. Carbon tetrachloride was suitable for liquid and electrical fires and the extinguishers were often carried on aircraft or motor vehicles.

One specialty use of carbon tetrachloride was in stamp collecting, to reveal watermarks on postage stamps without damaging them. A small amount of the liquid was placed on the back of a stamp, sitting in a black glass or obsidian tray. The letters or design of the watermark could then be clearly seen.

However, once it became apparent that carbon tetrachloride exposure had severe adverse health effects, such as causing fulminant necrosis, safer alternatives such as tetrachloroethylene were found for these applications, and its use in these roles declined from about 1940 onward. The fact that high temperatures cause it to react to produce phosgene made it especially hazardous when used against fires. This reaction also caused a rapid depletion of oxygen. Carbon tetrachloride persisted as a pesticide to kill insects in stored grain, but in 1970 it was banned in consumer products in the United States.

Prior to the Montreal Protocol, large quantities of carbon tetrachloride were used to produce the freon refrigerants R-11 (trichlorofluoromethane) and R-12 (dichlorodifluoromethane). However, these refrigerants play a role in ozone depletion and have been phased out. Carbon tetrachloride is still used to manufacture less destructive refrigerants. Carbon tetrachloride has also been used in the detection of neutrinos.

Carbon tetrachloride is one of the most potent hepatotoxins (toxic to the liver), and is widely used in scientific research to evaluate hepatoprotective agents.


Carbon tetrachloride has practically no flammability at lower temperatures. Under high temperatures in air, it forms poisonous phosgene.

Because it has no C-H bonds, carbon tetrachloride does not easily undergo free-radical reactions. Hence, it is a useful solvent for halogenations either by the elemental halogen or by a halogenation reagent such as N-bromosuccinimide (these conditions are known as Wohl-Ziegler Bromination).

In organic chemistry, carbon tetrachloride serves as a source of chlorine in the Appel reaction.


It is used as a solvent in synthetic chemistry research, but, because of its adverse health effects, it is no longer commonly used, and in general chemists try to replace it with other solvents.[9] It is sometimes useful as a solvent for infrared spectroscopy, because there are no significant absorption bands > 1600 cm−1. Because carbon tetrachloride does not have any hydrogen atoms, it was historically used in proton NMR spectroscopy. However, carbon tetrachloride is toxic, and its dissolving power is low.[11] Its use has been largely superseded by deuterated solvents. Use of carbon tetrachloride in determination of oil has been replaced by various other solvents, such as tetrachloroethylene.