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Carbon tetrachloride

Organic solvents Uses Chemical reaction Clinical manifestations of poisoning Check items Treatment Emergency treatment for leakage Chemical properties Production method Hazards & Safety Information
Carbon tetrachloride
Carbon tetrachloride structure
Chemical Name:
Carbon tetrachloride
r10;CCm0;CCl4;R 10;R-10;CFC-10;freon10;Thawpit;Univerm;Carbona
Molecular Formula:
Formula Weight:
MOL File:

Carbon tetrachloride Properties

Melting point:
-23 °C
Boiling point:
76-77 °C(lit.)
1.594 g/mL at 25 °C(lit.)
vapor density 
5.32 (vs air)
vapor pressure 
4.05 psi ( 20 °C)
refractive index 
n20/D 1.460(lit.)
Flash point:
−2 °F
storage temp. 
Clear colorless
Relative polarity
Ethereal, sweet, pungent odor detectable at 140 to 584 ppm (mean = 252 ppm)
Water Solubility 
0.8 g/L (20 ºC)
λ: 265 nm Amax: 1.0
λ: 270 nm Amax: 0.30
λ: 280 nm Amax: 0.07
λ: 290 nm Amax: 0.02
λ: 300-400 nm Amax: 0.01
Exposure limits
NIOSH REL: STEL 1 hour 2 ppm, IDLH 200 ppm; OSHA PEL: TWA 10 ppm, C 25 ppm, 5-minute/4-hour peak 200 ppm; ACGIH TLV: TWA 5 ppm.
CAS DataBase Reference
56-23-5(CAS DataBase Reference)
NIST Chemistry Reference
Carbon tetrachloride(56-23-5)
EPA Substance Registry System
Methane, tetrachloro-(56-23-5)
  • Risk and Safety Statements
  • Hazard and Precautionary Statements (GHS)
  • NFPA
Hazard Codes  T,N,F
Risk Statements  23/24/25-40-48/23-52/53-59-39/23/24/25-11-43
Safety Statements  23-36/37-45-59-61-16-7
RIDADR  UN 1846 6.1/PG 2
WGK Germany  3
RTECS  FG4900000
HazardClass  6.1(a)
PackingGroup  II
HS Code  29031400
Hazardous Substances Data 56-23-5(Hazardous Substances Data)
Toxicity LC50 for mice: 9528 ppm (Svirbely); LD50 in rats, mice, dogs (g/kg): 2.92, 12.1-14.4, 2.3 orally; LD50 in mice (g/kg): 4.1 i.p., 30.4 s.c. (IARC, 1979)
Signal word: Danger
Hazard statements:
Code Hazard statements Hazard class Category Signal word Pictogram P-Codes
H225 Highly Flammable liquid and vapour Flammable liquids Category 2 Danger P210,P233, P240, P241, P242, P243,P280, P303+ P361+P353, P370+P378,P403+P235, P501
H317 May cause an allergic skin reaction Sensitisation, Skin Category 1 Warning P261, P272, P280, P302+P352,P333+P313, P321, P363, P501
H351 Suspected of causing cancer Carcinogenicity Category 2 Warning P201, P202, P281, P308+P313, P405,P501
H370 Causes damage to organs Specific target organ toxicity, single exposure Category 1 Danger P260, P264, P270, P307+P311, P321,P405, P501
H372 Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure Specific target organ toxicity, repeated exposure Category 1 Danger P260, P264, P270, P314, P501
H373 May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure Specific target organ toxicity, repeated exposure Category 2 Warning P260, P314, P501
H412 Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects Hazardous to the aquatic environment, long-term hazard Category 3 P273, P501
H420 Harms public health and the environment by destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere Hazardous to the ozone layer Category 1 Warning P502
Precautionary statements:
P210 Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surfaces. — No smoking.
P260 Do not breathe dust/fume/gas/mist/vapours/spray.
P261 Avoid breathing dust/fume/gas/mist/vapours/spray.
P273 Avoid release to the environment.
P280 Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection.
P311 Call a POISON CENTER or doctor/physician.
P301+P310 IF SWALLOWED: Immediately call a POISON CENTER or doctor/physician.
P403+P233 Store in a well-ventilated place. Keep container tightly closed.
P502 Refer to manufacturer/supplier for information on recovery/recycling

NFPA 704

Diamond Hazard Value Description
3 0
Health   3 Short exposure could cause serious temporary or moderate residual injury (e.g. liquid hydrogen, sulfuric acid, calcium hypochlorite, hexafluorosilicic acid)
Flammability   0 Materials that will not burn under typical fire conditions, including intrinsically noncombustible materials such as concrete, stone, and sand. Materials that will not burn in air when exposed to a temperature of 820 °C (1,500 °F) for a period of 5 minutes.(e.g. Carbon tetrachloride)
Instability   0 Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water (e.g. helium,N2)

(NFPA, 2010)

Carbon tetrachloride price More Price(13)

Manufacturer Product number Product description CAS number Packaging Price Updated Buy
Sigma-Aldrich 02671 Carbon tetrachloride analytical standard 56-23-5 5ml $86.5 2018-11-22 Buy
Sigma-Aldrich 02671 Carbon tetrachloride analytical standard 56-23-5 1ml $26.3 2018-11-22 Buy
Strem Chemicals 06-3545 Carbon tetrachloride (99.999%-C) PURATREM 56-23-5 25g $97 2018-11-13 Buy
Strem Chemicals 06-3545 Carbon tetrachloride (99.999%-C) PURATREM 56-23-5 100g $339 2018-11-13 Buy
Sigma-Aldrich 1601168 Residual Solvent Class 1 - Carbon Tetrachloride 56-23-5 3x1.2ml $352.8 2018-11-20 Buy

Carbon tetrachloride Chemical Properties,Uses,Production

Organic solvents

Carbon tetrachloride, also known as tetrachloromethane, has its molecule formula being CCl4. It appears as colorless liquid with the melting point of-23 ° C, boiling point of 76.8 ° C and the relative density of 1.5867. It can dissolve grease, paint, resin, rubber and many other substances, being commonly used organic solvent and extractant. It can also be used as dry cleaning agent. However, long-term exposure to carbon tetrachloride will irritate the skin, inhibit the central nervous system and cause damage to the liver and kidney. Therefore, the operator should pay special attention. Carbon tetrachloride is volatile with its vapor being heavier than air, being non-conductive and inflammable. When the carbon tetrachloride is heat to be evaporated to become heavy steam, the gas will cover the combustion products, so that the firing product is isolated from the air and the fire is extinguished. It is especially suitable for extinguishing oil fire and fire near the power. However, carbon tetrachloride, at high temperature (500 ℃ above), can react with water to produce highly toxic phosgene, so we should pay attention to ventilation for extinguishing fire.
Carbon tetrachloride is widely presented in the atmosphere, river water, sea water, seaweed and marine surface sediments. Its concentration in seawater is generally in ppb level. Carbon tetrachloride contained in red algae is estimated to be synthesized by the organism itself. The concentrations of carbon tetrachloride in the two hemispheres are very close, and are higher than the estimated amount based on production amount, which is related to the reaction of chlorine and methane in the atmosphere. Industrial produced carbon tetrachloride enters into the ocean mainly through the sea-air interface. It has been estimated that the atmospheric → ocean flux is 1.4 × 1010 g/year, being equivalent to 30% of the total carbon tetrachloride in the atmosphere. Carbon tetrachloride can be used as a tracer during the mixing of water masses.
At high temperature, carbon tetrachloride can react with metallic sodium and explodes, so that carbon tetrachloride can’t be used to extinguish the fire when metallic sodium is on fire.
The carbon tetrachloride may be prepared by treating carbon disulfide with dry chlorine in the presence of a catalyst.


Industry Application Role/benefit
Chemical manufacture Manufacture of organic chlorine Chlorating agent or solvent
Manucfacture of nylons Monomer
Manufacture of rubber cement, soaps, insecticides, etc. Solvent
Propellants Manufacture of chlorofluorocarbon propellants Be declining steadily for its detriment to the ozone layer
Refrigeration Manufacture of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants r-11 and r-12
Fire suppression Carbon tetrachloride fire extinguisher Better for the fire of electrical appliance and precise instrument
Cleaning Dry cleaning fluid Non-polar structure,excellent dissolving ability for grease and oil
Industrial de-greaser for metals
Chemical analysis Detection of boron, bromine, chlorine, molybdenum, tungsten and vanadium, phosphorus, silver Analytical agent
Infrared spectroscopy Solvnt/no significant absorption bands > 1600 cm−1
Proton NMR spectroscopy Solvent/no hydrogen atoms
ICP-AES、AAS、AFS、ICP-MS Standard solvent
Others Stamp collecting Reveal watermarks on postage stamps without damaging them
Insects killing in grain Fumigant
Metal cutting Lubricating agent


Chemical reaction

Carbon tetrachloride molecule exhibits tetrahedral structure, belonging to non-polar molecule. It chemical reactivity was inert, but being more active than chloroform. At 250 ℃ with the presence of water, it can react with some metals to produce carbon dioxide; Upon anhydrous condition, the reaction between carbon tetrachloride and metal is very slow.
CCl4 + 2H2O → CO2 + 4HCl
Carbon tetrachloride is decomposed by water in the presence of metals such as aluminum and iron (catalyzed). If it is superheated steam, even without the presence of metal catalyst, carbon tetrachloride can also be decomposed to produce phosgene.
CCl4 + H2O → COCl2 + 2HCl
In the case of heating, carbon tetrachloride can have reaction with halogen salt, generating other kinds of tetrahalide. For example, its reaction with silver fluoride can generate carbon tetrafluoride; its reaction with aluminum bromide and calcium iodide can generate carbon tetrabromide and tetra-iodide.
In the presence of trace amount of hydrogen chloride, the product can react with silver perchlorate, generating explosive compounds Cl3CClO4:
CCl4 + AgClO4 → Cl3CClO4 + AgCl
In the presence of antimony pentachloride catalyst, this product can react with hydrogen fluoride to generate fluoride methyl chloride, such as monofluorotrichloromethane, difluorodichloromethane, namely, Freon refrigerant.
CCl4 + HF-& gt; CCl3F + HCl
CCl4 + 2HF-& gt; CCl2F2 + HCl
Carbon tetrachloride can react with sulfur at high temperatures (above 200 ° C) to produce carbon disulfide.
CCl4 + 6S → CS2 + 2S2Cl2
Under the catalysis of anhydrous aluminum chloride, carbon tetrachloride can react with benzene, generating triphenyl methane.
Under the catalysis of iron or iron salt, heating to 330 ℃ can promote the oxidation of carbon tetrachloride decomposition, generating phosgene.
2CCl4 + O2 → 2COCl2 + 2Cl2

Clinical manifestations of poisoning

The susceptibility of people to CCl4 toxicity varies greatly. After inhalation of high concentrations of CCl4 vapor, people can quickly appear coma, convulsions and other acute poisoning symptoms, together with pulmonary edema and respiratory paralysis. Inhalation of slightly higher concentration has effects of mental retardation, confusion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. At 2 to 4 days after poisoning, people exhibit the signs of liver and kidney damage with ascites, acute liver necrosis and renal failure occurring in severe cases. In a few cases, people may also get myocardial damage, atrial fibrillation and ventricular premature beats. Oral poisoning can cause significant liver symptoms. Chronic poisoning is manifested as neurasthenia syndrome and gastrointestinal disorders with a few cases appearing hepatomegaly and abnormal liver function. Renal damage as well as optic neuritis and peripheral neuritis are very rare.

Check items

1. Liver function tests: significant increase of serum ALT, AST activity can be used as the major diagnostic criteria of liver damage during the acute carbon tetrachloride poisoning. Serum heparin and serum prealbumin are also sensitive indicators. Upon severe damage, the serum bilirubin and prothrombin time was significantly increased, while serum albumin was significantly reduced.
2. Urine routine and renal function tests: changes in urine composition can be taken as the early evidence for indicating renal dysfunction. The increased blood urea nitrogen and creatinine, reduced creatinine clearance are commonly used and sensitive approaches for the determination of glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Patients with over 50% reduction in GFR may consider the diagnosis of acute renal failure.
3. Determination of carbon tetrachloride concentration in blood and expired gas can be used as a diagnostic reference.


Mainly apply symptomatic treatment on the nervous system and liver and kidney damage. For gastric lavage for treatment of oral poisoning, we can first use liquid paraffin or vegetable oil to dissolve poison, and prevent its inhalation into the respiratory tract. Avoid using epinephrine and alcohol-containing drugs, to prevent induced ventricular fibrillation and aggravation of the disease. Special attention should be paid to prevention and treatment of liver and kidney failure. Upon the occurrence of renal failure, we can use hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis treatment.

Emergency treatment for leakage

Rapidly withdraw the personnel in the contaminated area to a safe area, and perform isolation, strict restrictions on access.
⑴     carbon tetrachloride appears as a colorless liquid; the approach for treatment of ground pollution accident emergency is the same as chloroform:
① Quickly build the soil, sand or other reachable materials into the dam to prevent the flow of liquid, in particular, prevent it from flowing into the nearby water; cover with soil and absorb it. It is also doable to dig a hole below its flow, collect it in a pit to prevent its further diffusion, and collect the liquid in a suitable container.
②  do not use iron material (such as iron spoon, iron containers, shovels, etc.) during the process; Instead we should switch to other tools; because iron will help the decomposition of tetrachloromethane to produce more toxic phosgene. If possible, the operator should wear gas masks or other protective equipment during the process.
③  after the removal and stripping of the contaminated soil, collect them for treatment together; The following methods can be used based on the actual conditions:
A. Heat the soil and add water to make tetrachloromethane form into formic acid, carbon monoxide and hydrochloric acid;
B. Add concentrated alkali solution to the soil to make it react with tetrachloromethane to produce carbon monoxide;
C. Add dilute sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide into the soil to make it react with tetrachloromethane to form sodium formate or potassium formate;
The above operation should be avoided in the light conditions.
D. Incinerate the soil, ensuring complete combustion to prevent the generation of phosgene.
(2) As the carbon tetrachloride is very stable in the environment, some of the disposal technology of chloroform does not apply to it. It can only be applied of its volatile characteristics for natural or artificial mandatory volatilization to the atmosphere. When there is a large number of gaseous carbon tetrachloride getting evaporated and dispersed, population down the wind should be evacuated to prevent poisoning.
(3) Technology for the water pollution treatment is the same as that of chloroform: when tetrachloromethane enters into the water body, it should be try to block the channel between the contaminated waters and other waters with the method being building the dam to stop the flow; make a ditch to make it flow to another water body (such as sewage canal) and so on. Since tetrachloromethane is a kind of volatile halogenated hydrocarbon, the most simple and easy treatment method for the contaminated water body is the use of aeration (including deep aeration) method, so that it is quickly released from the water body to the atmosphere. In addition, several methods of treating the soil may be used as appropriate.
Waste disposal methods: Incineration. The waste is mixed with other fuels for burning; the combustion should be thoroughly in order to prevent the formation of phosgene. The hydrogen halide contained in the exhaust gas inside the incinerator is removed by an acid scrubber. In addition, consideration should be given to distillation and recovery of carbon tetrachloride.

Chemical properties

It appears as colorless transparent volatile liquid with a special aromatic odor. Sweet; 1 ml can be dissolved in 2000 ml water; it is also miscible with ethanol, ether, chloroform, benzene, carbon disulfide, petroleum ether and the majority of volatile oil.

Production method

There are many approaches for production of carbon tetrachloride including methane thermal chlorination, carbon disulfide chlorination, and co-production of tetrachlorethylene, phosgene catalysis, methanone oxychlorination, high-pressure chlorination and methanol hydrochlorination. 1. Methane thermal chlorination: methane, when mixed with chlorine gas to have hot chlorination reaction in the 400-430 °C, generating crude product with by-product of hydrochloric acid. The crude product, after subjecting to neutralization, drying and distillation purification, can lead to the finished product. The fixed consumed amount of raw materials: natural gas (including methane 98%) 210 m3, liquid chlorine 2850 kg/t. 2. Carbon disulfide method: chlorine and carbon disulfide, with iron as the catalyst, are reacted at 90-100 °C; the reaction product is subject to fractionation, neutralization and distillation to obtain the finished product. This method needs less investment with the products easy to be purified. However, it demands high cost of equipment with serious corrosion of equipment. 3. Methanol oxygen chlorination: chlorine has a high utilization rate with no hydrogen chloride and waste halogenated hydrocarbon pollution. 4. High-pressure chlorination: avoid the generation of tetrachlorethylene. 5. Methanol hydrogenation and chlorination: the product is of good quality, resulting in high economic efficiency. In addition, dichloromethane and chloroform production can also co-produce tetrachloromethane.

Hazards & Safety Information

Category Pesticides
Toxic grading poisoning
Acute toxicity Oral-Rat LD50: 2350 mg/kg; Oral-mouse LD50: 8263 mg/kg
Irritation Data Skin-Rabbit 500 mg/24 h Mild; Eyes-Rabbit 500 mg/24 h Mild
Flammable and hazardous characteristics it is non-combustible; in case of wet air and light, it is subject to decomposition into hydrochloric acid; it is decomposed upon high heating to release toxic chloride smoke
Storage and transportation characteristics Treasury: ventilated, low temperature and dry; store separately from food additives
Fire extinguishing agent itself is extinguishing agent
Occupational Standard TWA 13 mg/m3 STEL 25 mg/m3

Chemical Properties

Carbon tetrachloride, CC14, also known as tetrachloromethane, perchloro methane, and benzinoform, is a colorless liquid with a boiling point of 77 °C (170 OF). It is used as a solvent for lacquers, resin, and rubbers,and as a dry cleaning agent.

Chemical Properties

Carbon tetrachloride is a colorless, nonflammable liquid with a characteristic ethereal odor. The Odor Threshold is 0.52 mg/L in water and 140548 ppm in air.


As solvent for oils, fats, lacquers, varnishes, rubber waxes, resins; starting material in manufacture of organic Compounds. Pharmaceutic aid (solvent). Formerly used as dry cleaning agent, fire extinguisher and grain fumigant.


Agricultural fumigant


Carbon tetrachloride is used as a solvent, infire extinguishers, in dry cleaning, and in themanufacture of fluorocarbon propellents.


A colorless nonflammable liquid made by the chlorination of methane. Its main use is as a solvent.


ChEBI: A chlorocarbon that is methane in which all the hydrogens have been replaced by chloro groups.

General Description

A clear colorless liquid with a characteristic odor. 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.

Air & Water Reactions

Insoluble in water.

Reactivity Profile

Carbon tetrachloride is a commonly used liquid in fire extinguishers to combat small fires. Carbon tetrachloride has no flash point, Carbon tetrachloride is not flammable. However, when heated to decomposition, Carbon tetrachloride 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, aluminum, barium. Vigorous exothermic reaction with allyl alcohol, boron trifluoride, diborane, disilane, aluminum chloride, dibenzoyl peroxide, potassium tert-butoxide, liquid oxygen, zirconium. [Bretherick, 5th ed., 1995, p. 666]. Potentially dangerous reaction with dimethylformamide or dimethylacetamide in presence of iron [Cardillo, P. et al., Ann. Chim. (Rome), 1984, 74, p. 129].


Toxic by ingestion, inhalation, and skin absorption. Do not use to extinguish fire. Narcotic. A possible carcinogen. Liver damage. Decomposes to phosgene at high temperatures.

Health Hazard

The acute toxicity of carbon tetrachloride is low to moderate. Inhalation of carbon tetrachloride can produce symptoms such as dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, stupor, and diarrhea. This substance is a depressant of the central nervous system, and inhalation of high concentrations causes damage to the liver, heart, and kidneys. Exposure to 1000 to 2000 ppm for 30 to 60 min can be fatal to humans. Ingestion of carbon tetrachloride leads to similar toxic effects, and swallowing as little as 4 mL can be lethal. Carbon tetrachloride irritates the skin, and prolonged contact may cause dryness and cracking. This substance is also slowly absorbed through the skin. Carbon tetrachloride liquid and vapor are also irritating to the eyes. The odor of carbon tetrachloride does not provide adequate warning of the presence of harmful concentrations. Carbon tetrachloride shows carcinogenic effects in animal studies and is listed by IARC in Group 2B ("possible human carcinogen"). It is not classified as a "select carcinogen" according to the criteria of the OSHA Laboratory Standard. Prolonged or repeated exposure to this substance may result in liver and kidney damage. There is some evidence from animal studies that carbon tetrachloride may be a developmental and reproductive toxin in both males and females.

Health Hazard

Dizziness, incoordination, anesthesia; may be accompanied by nausea and liver damage. Kidney damage also occurs, often producing decrease or stopping of urinary output.

Health Hazard

Carbon tetrachloride exhibits low acute tox icity by all routes of exposure. The acute poisoning effects include dizziness, fatigue,headache, nervousness, stupor, nausea, vom iting, diarrhea, renal damage, and liverinjury. The dosages that produce toxic act ions in animals vary with the species. Theoral LD50 values in rats, rabbits, and mice are2800, 5760, and 8263 mg/kg, respectively(NIOSH 1986).
Ingestion of carbon tetrachloride can befatal to humans, death resulting from acuteliver or kidney necrosis. Chronic exposuremay cause liver and kidney damage. Expo sure to a 10-ppm concentration for severalweeks produced accumulation of fat in the liv ers of experimental animals (ACGIH 1986).Substances such as ethanol and barbituratescause potentiation of toxicity of carbon tetra chloride. Skin contact can cause dermatitis.
Azri and coworkers (1990) have investi gated carbon tetrachloride–induced hepato toxicity in rat liver slices. Liver slices frommale rats were incubated and exposed tocarbon tetrachloride vapors, and the degreeof injury to cellular tissue was determined.Covalent binding of CCl4 radical to proteinsand lipid molecules in a slice caused the cel lular injury. The toxicity depended on thevapor concentration and the time of expo sure. Azri and coworkers reported furtherthat rats pretreated with phenobarbital weremore rapidly intoxicated even at a lower con centration of carbon tetrachloride vapors. Onthe other hand, pretreatment with allyliso propylacetamide inhibited the toxicity of car bon tetrachloride.
Carbon tetrachloride is a suspected humancarcinogen. Oral and subcutaneous adminis tration of this compound in rats caused liverand thyroid cancers in the animals.

Fire Hazard

Flash Point: Not flammable; Flammable Limits in Air (%): Not flammable; Fire Extinguishing Agents: Not pertinent; Fire Extinguishing Agents Not To Be Used: Not pertinent; Special Hazards of Combustion Products: Forms poisonous phosgene gas when exposed to open flames; Behavior in Fire: Decomposes to chloride and phosgene; Ignition Temperature: Not flammable; Electrical Hazard: Not pertinent; Burning Rate: Not flammable.

Fire Hazard

Carbon tetrachloride is noncombustible. Exposure to fire or high temperatures may lead to formation of phosgene, a highly toxic gas.

Flammability and Explosibility

Carbon tetrachloride is noncombustible. Exposure to fire or high temperatures may lead to formation of phosgene, a highly toxic gas.

Chemical Reactivity

Reactivity with Water No reaction; Reactivity with Common Materials: No reactions; Stability During Transport: Stable; Neutralizing Agents for Acids and Caustics: Not pertinent; Polymerization: Not pertinent; Inhibitor of Polymerization: Not pertinent.

Industrial uses

Carbon tetrachloride is a clear, heavy liquid with a strong, aromatic odor. Its formula is CC14. It is produced in large quantities for use in the manufacturing of refrigerants and propellants for aerosol cans. It is also used as a feedstock in the synthesis of chlorofluorocarbons and other chemicals, in petroleum refining, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and general solvent use. Until the mid- 1960s, it was also widely used as a cleaning fluid, both in industry, where it served as a degreasing agent, and in the home, where it was used as a spot remover and in fire extinguishers.
Carbon tetrachloride is a highly volatile liquid with a strong etherial odor similar to chloroform. It mixes sparingly with water and is not flammable. When heated to decomposition, it emits highly toxic fumes of phosgene and hydrogen chloride. There is strong evidence that the toxicity of carbon tetrachloride is dramatically increased by its interaction with alcohols, ketones, and a range of other chemicals.
Carbon tetrachloride is known to deplete the ozone layer, where it is responsible for 17% of the ozone-destroying chlorine now in the stratosphere due to human activities. Carbon tetrachloride has a half-life of between 30 and 100 years.Its DOT Label is Poison, and its UN number is 1846.

Safety Profile

Confirmed carcinogen with experimental carcinogenic, neoplastigenic, and tumorigenic data. A human poison by ingestion and possibly other routes. Poison by subcutaneous and intravenous routes. Mildly toxic by inhalation. Human systemic effects by inhalation and ingestion: nausea or vomiting, pupdlary constriction, coma, antipsychotic effects, tremors, somnolence, anorexia, unspecified respiratory system and gastrointestinal system effects. Experimental teratogenic and reproductive effects. An eye and skin irritant. Damages liver, kidneys, and lungs. Mutation data reported. A narcotic. Individual susceptibility varies widely. Contact dermatitis can result from skin contact. resembling that of chloroform, though not as strong. Following exposure to high concentrations, the victim may become unconscious, and, if exposure is not terminated, death can follow from respiratory fdure. The aftereffects following recovery from narcosis are more serious than those of delayed chloroform poisoning, usually taking the form of damage to the kidneys, liver, and lungs. Exposure to lower ppd6OM Carbon tetrachloride has a narcotic action concentrations, insufficient to produce unconsciousness, usually results in severe gastrointestinal upset and may progress to serious hdney and hepatic damage. The E kidney lesion is an acute nephrosis; the liver involvement consists of an acute degeneration of the central portions of the lobules. When recovery takes place, there may be no permanent dsability. Marked variation in individual susceptibdity to carbon tetrachloride exists; some persons appear to be unaffected by exposures that seriously poison their fellow workers. Alcoholism and previous liver and kidney damage seem to render the indwidual more susceptible. Concentrations on the order of 1000 to 1500 ppm are sufficient to cause symptoms if exposure continues for several hours. Repeated ddy exposure to such concentration may result in poisoning. Though the common form of poisoning following industrial exposure is usually one of gastrointestinal upset, which may be followed by renal damage, other cases have been reported in which the central nervous system has been affected, resulting in the production of polyneuritis, narrowing of the visual fields, and other neurologcal changes. Prolonged exposure to small amounts of carbon tetrachloride has also been reported as causing cirrhosis of the liver. Locally, a dermatitis may be produced following long or repeated contact with the liquid. The skin oils are removed and the skin becomes red, cracked, and dry. The effect of carbon tetrachloride on the eyes either as a vapor or as a liquid, is one of irritation with lachrymation and burning. Industrial poisoning is usually acute with malaise, headache, nausea, dminess, and confusion, which may be followed by stupor and sometimes loss of consciousness. Symptoms of liver and kidney damage may follow later with development of dark urine, sometimes jaundice and liver enlargement, followed by scanty urine, albuminuria, and renal casts; uremia may develop and cause death. Where exposure has been less acute, the symptoms are usually headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, epigastric distress, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Visual disturbances (blind spots, spots before the eyes, a visual "haze," and restriction of the visual fields), secondary anemia, and occasionally a slight jaundice may occur. Dermatitis may be noticed on the exposed parts. with particulates of many metals, e.g., aluminum (when ball milled or heated to 152' in a closed container), barium (bulk metal also reacts violently), beryllium, potassium (200 times more shock sensitive than mercury fulminate), potassium-sodium alloy (more sensitive than potassium), lithium, sodium, zinc (burns ready). Also forms explosive mixtures with chlorine trifluoride, calcium hypochlorite (heatsensitive), calcium dtsllicide (frictionand pressuresensitive), triethyldialuminum trichloride (heatsensitive), decaborane(l4) (impact-sensitive), dinitrogen tetraoxide. Violent or explosive reaction on contact with fluorine. Forms explosive mixtures with ethylene between 25' and 105' and between 30 and 80 bar. Potentially explosive reaction on contact with boranes. 9:l mixtures of methanol and cCl4 react exothermically with aluminum, magnesium, or zinc. Potentially dangerous reaction with dimethyl formamide, 1,2,3,4,5,6 hexachlorocyclohexane, or dtmethylacetamide when iron is present as a catalyst. CCh has caused explosions when used as a fire extingusher on wax and uranium fires. Incompatible with aluminum trichloride, dtbenzoyl peroxide, potassiumtert-butoxide. Vigorous exothermic reaction with allyl alcohol, Al(C2H5)3, (benzoyl peroxide + C2H4), BrF3, diborane, dsilane, liquid O2, Pu, (AgClO4 + HCl), potassiumtert-butoxide, tetraethylenepentamine, tetrasilane, trisilane, Zr. When heated to decomposition it emits toxic fumes of Cl and phosgene. It has been banned from household use by the FDA. See also Forms impact-sensitive explosive mixtures CHLORINATED HYDROCARBONS, ALIPHATIC.

Potential Exposure

Carbon tetrachloride, and organochlorine, is used as a solvent for oils, fats, lacquers, varnishes, rubber, waxes, and resins. Fluorocarbons are chemically synthesized from it. It is also used as an azeotropic drying agent for spark plugs; a dry-cleaning agent; a fire extinguishing agent; a fumigant, and an anthelmintic agent. The use of this solvent is widespread, and substitution of less toxic solvents when technically possible is recommended.

First aid

If this chemical gets into the eyes, remove any contact lenses at once and irrigate immediately for at least 15 minutes, occasionally lifting upper and lower lids. Seek medical attention immediately. If this chemical contacts the skin, remove contaminated clothing and wash immediately with soap and water. Seek medical attention immediately. If this chemical has been inhaled, remove from exposure, begin rescue breathing (using universal precautions, including resuscitation mask) if breathing has stopped and CPR if heart action has stopped. Transfer promptly to a medical facility. When this chemical has been swallowed, get medical attention. Give large quantities of water and induce vomiting. Do not make an unconscious person vomit.

Environmental Fate

Biological. Carbon tetrachloride was degraded by denitrifying bacteria forming chloroform (Smith and Dragun, 1984). An anaerobic species of Clostridium biodegraded carbon tetrachloride by reductive dechlorination yielding trichloromethane, dichloromethane and unidentified products (G?lli and McCarty, 1989). Chloroform also formed by microbial degradation of carbon tetrachloride using denitrifying bacteria (Smith and Dragun, 1984).
Carbon tetrachloride (5 and 10 mg/L) showed significant degradation with rapid adaptation in a static-culture flask-screening test (settled domestic wastewater inoculum) conducted at 25°C. Complete degradation was observed after 14 days of incubation (Tabak et al., 1981).
Chemical/Physical. Under laboratory conditions, carbon tetrachloride partially hydrolyzed to chloroform and carbon dioxide (Smith and Dragun, 1984). Complete hydrolysis yielded carbon dioxide and hydrochloric acid (Kollig, 1993). Carbon tetrachloride slowly reacts with hydrogen sulfide in aqueous solution yielding carbon dioxide via the intermediate carbon disulfide. However, in the presence of two micaceous minerals (biotite and vermiculite) and amorphous silica, the rate of transformation increased. At 25°C and a hydrogen sulfide concentration of 1 mM, the half-lives for carbon tetrachloride were calculated to be 2,600, 160 and 50 days for the silica, vermiculite and biotite studies, respectively. In all three studies, the major transformation pathway is the formation of carbon disulfide which undergoes hydrolysis yielding carbon dioxide (81–86% yield) and hydrogen sulfide ions. Minor intermediates detected include chloroform (5–15% yield),carbon monoxide (1–2% yield) and a nonvolatile compound tentatively identified as formic acid (3–6% yield) (Kriegman-King and Reinhard, 1992).
Anticipated products from the reaction of carbon tetrachloride with ozone or hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere are phosgene and chloride radicals (Cupitt, 1980). Phosgene is hydrolyzed readily to hydrochloric acid and carbon dioxide (Morrison and Boyd, 1971).
Matheson and Tratnyek (1994) studied the reaction of fine-grained iron metal in an anaerobic aqueous solution (15°C) containing carbon tetrachloride (151 μM). Initially, carbon tetrachloride underwent rapid dehydrochlorination forming chloroform, which further degraded to methylene chloride and chloride ions. The rate of reaction decreased with each dehydrochlorination step. However, after 1 hour of mixing, the concentration of carbon tetrachloride decreased from 151 to approximately 15 μM. No additional products were identified although the authors concluded that environmental circumstances may exist where degradation of methylene chloride may occur. They also reported that reductive dehalogenation of carbon tetrachloride and other chlorinated hydrocarbons used in this study appears to take place in conjunction with the oxidative dissolution or corrosion of the iron metal through a diffusion-limited surface reaction.
The evaporation half-life of carbon tetrachloride (1 mg/L) from water at 25°C using a shallow-pitch propeller stirrer at 200 rpm at an average depth of 6.5 cm is 29 minutes (Dilling, 1977).


Carbon tetrachloride should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices".


UN1846 Carbon tetrachloride, Hazard Class: 6.1; Labels: 6.1-Poisonous materials.

Purification Methods

For many purposes, careful fractional distillation gives adequate purification. Carbon disulfide, if present, can be removed by shaking vigorously for several hours with saturated KOH, separating, and washing with water: this treatment is repeated. The CCl4 is shaken with conc H2SO4 until there is no further coloration, then washed with water, dried with CaCl2 or MgSO4 and distilled (from P2O5 if desired). It must not be dried with sodium. An initial refluxing with mercury for 2hours removes sulfides. Other purification steps include passage of dry CCl4 through activated alumina, and distillation from KMnO4. Carbonyl containing impurities can be removed by percolation through a Celite column impregnated with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH), H3PO4 and water. (Prepared by dissolving 0.5g DNPH in 6mL of 85% H3PO4 by grinding together, then mixing with 4mL of distilled water and 10g Celite.) [Schwartz & Parks Anal Chem 33 1396 1961]. Photochlorination of CCl4 has also been used: CCl4 to which a small amount of chlorine has been added is illuminated in a glass bottle (e.g. for 24hours with a 200W tungsten lamp near it), and, after washing out the excess chlorine with 0.02M Na2SO3, the CCl4 is washed with distilled water and distilled from P2O5. It can be dried by passing through 4A molecular sieves and distilled. Another purification procedure is to wash CCl4 with aqueous NaOH, then repeatedly with water and N2 gas is bubbled through the liquid for several hours. After drying over CaCl2 it is percolated through silica gel and distilled under dry N2 before use [Klassen & Ross J Phys Chem 91 3664 1987]. [Beilstein 1 IV 56.]


Oxidative decomposition on contact with hot surfaces, flames, or welding arcs. Carbon tetrachloride decomposes forming toxic phosgene fumes and hydrogen chloride. Decomposes violently (producing heat) on contact with chemically active metals, such as aluminum, barium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, fluorine gas, allyl alcohol, and other substances, causing fire and explosion hazard. Attacks copper, lead, and zinc. Attacks some coatings, plastics, and rubber. Becomes corrosive when in contact with water; corrosive to metals in the presence of moisture.

Waste Disposal

Incineration, preferably after mixing with another combustible fuel; care must be exercised to assure complete combustion to prevent the formation of phosgene; an acid scrubber is necessary to remove the halo acids produced. Recover and purify by distillation where possible.

Carbon tetrachloride Preparation Products And Raw materials

Raw materials

Preparation Products

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