Dichloromethane: Properties and Uses
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Dichloromethane

Dichloromethane is a geminal organic chemical. It is also known to the scientists under the names methylene chloride or methylene dichloride. The substance may also be called refrigerant-30 freon-30, R-30, DCM, UN 1593, solmethine, narkotil, solaesthin or MDC. The formula of the chemical is CH2Cl2, the CAS number 75-09-2.

It naturally occurs in oceans, volcanoes, wetlands, and macroalgae, but mainly appears as the result of industrial processes. Methylene chloride is produced in labs by treating methane or chloromethane with chlorine gas at 400 – 500 °C.

Properties and Hazards

Dichloromethane is a colorless liquid with a moderately sweet, chloroform-like aroma. It is highly volatile and emits toxic fumes when heated. The chemical has no definite flash point, though it forms flammable vapor-air mixtures. It is fully miscible with carbon tetrachloride, ethyl acetate, chloroform, alcohol, benzene, diethyl ether and hexanes. Here are some more properties of dichloromethane:

  • Boiling point: 39.6 °C;
  • Molecular weight: 84.93 g·mol−1;
  • Density: 1.3266 g/cm3;
  • Melting pint: −96.7 °C;
  • Solubility in water: 17.5 g/L (25 °C);
  • Viscosity: 0.43 cP (20 °C).

Most hazards of dichloromethane are connected with human health. The substance is extremely toxic. It can seriously irritate eyes, nose and throat, harm nervous system and even be fatal. DCM is proven to be animal carcinogen, and in case of prolonged exposure can cause cancer to humans.

Uses of Dichloromethane

Most of the dichloromethane uses are connected with its solvent properties. In household, it serves as a component of paint and varnish strippers. Besides, the DCM is often used in bathtub refinishing.

The chemical is widely applied in industry and manufacturing. It is an important extraction solvent in beverage and food production. For example, it dichloromethane is used to remove caffeine from coffee beans and tea leaves, to process spices, to create hops extract for beers, etc.

In transportation industry, the substance is present in lubricating and degreasing products, to clean metal parts and surfaces quickly and safely. Furthermore, the DCM is used in the manufacture of synthetic fibers, photographic films, inks, and many others.

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