carbon tetrachloride (tĕˌtrəklôrˈĪd) [key] or tetrachloromethane tĕˌtrəklôrˌəmĕthˈān, CCl4, colorless, poisonous, liquid organic compound that boils at 76.8°C. It is toxic when absorbed through the skin or when inhaled. It reacts at high temperatures to form the poisonous gas phosgene. Carbon tetrachloride is used in the production of Freon refrigerants, e.g., Freon-12 (dichlorodifluoromethane). Because it is not flammable and is a good solvent for fats, oils, and greases, it is often used commercially for dry cleaning and for degreasing metals. It is sometimes used in fire extinguishers, since its vapors are denser than air and serve to smother a flame. Its use in the home as a spot remover should be avoided because of its poisonous nature.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.