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Glossary - Carbon Tetrachloride

A clear colourless liquid with a characteristic odour.  Denser than water (13.2 lb / gal) and insoluble in water.

  • noncombustible
  • may cause illness by inhalation, skin absorption and/or ingestion
  • used as a solvent, in the manufacture of other chemicals, as an agricultural fumigant, and for many other uses
  • insoluble in water
  • carbon tetrachloride was a commonly used liquid in fire extinguishers to combat small fires
  • carbon tetrachloride has no flash point because it is not flammable, however, when heated to decomposition, will emit fumes of extremely toxic phosgene and of hydrogen chloride
  • forms explosive mixtures with chlorine trifluoride, calcium hypochlorite, decaborane, dinitrogen tetraoxide, fluorine


  • Forms impact-sensitive explosive mixtures with particles of many metals:  lithium, sodium, potassium, beryllium, zinc, aluminium, barium.  Vigorous exothermic reaction with allyl alcohol, boron trifluoride, diborane, disilane, aluminium chloride, dibenzoyl peroxide, potassium tert-butoxide, liquid oxygen, and zirconium.
  • Potentially dangerous reaction with dimethylformamide or dimethylacetamide in presence of iron Health Hazard Dizziness, incoordination, anaesthesia; may be accompanied by nausea and liver damage. Kidney damage also occurs, often producing decrease or stopping of urinary output.

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