Carbon tetrachloride, also known as tetrachloromethane or carbon tet, is a compound with the chemical formula CCl4. It can be seen as either inorganic (halide of carbon) or organic (the simplest perchlorocarbon).
Carbon tetrachloride does not burn in air.
CCl4 will dissolve iodine.
Carbon tetrachloride is a colourless liquid with a strong ether-like smell. It is insoluble in water, but soluble in many organic solvents, such as benzene, carbon disulfide, chloroform, diethyl ether, ethanol, formic acid and naphtha. It boils at 76.72 °C and freezes at −22.92 °C.
Carbon tetrachloride used to be available in the past, but today it's hard to find, due to being toxic and carcinogenic. Most chemistry institutions have also phased out the use of CCl4 in favor of other less dangerous solvents.
"Fire extinguishing grenades" (sealed bulbs filled with carbon tetrachloride) can sometimes be bought as antiques.
Carbon tetrachloride can be synthesized by chlorinating carbon disulfide at temperatures between 105 to 130 °C:
- CS2 + 3 Cl2 → CCl4 + S2Cl2
It can also be prepared by chlorinating chloroform in the presence of light.
Complete halogenation of methane with chlorine under UV light is the most common way of synthesizing the compound, used extensively in industry.
- Solvent for chlorinating reactions
- Make Carbon-Tet Explosive (CCl4 + Al powder)
Carbon tetrachloride is a toxic and carcinogenic compound, and is one of the most potent hepatotoxins (toxic to the liver).
Carbon tetrachloride has practically no flammability at lower temperatures, but will oxidize at high temperatures in air to yield poisonous phosgene.
Carbon tet should be stored in closed bottles, away from any heat source as well as oxidizers.
Carbon tetrachloride is best neutralized with a modified Fenton's reagent solution. Perform this process outside or in a fumehood to avoid aerosolizing carbon tet, which is toxic and carcinogenic.