chloroform (klôrˈəfôrm) [key] or trichloromethane trĪˌklôrōmĕthˈān, CHCl3, volatile, colorless, nonflammable liquid that has a sweetish taste and a somewhat pungent odor; it boils at 61.7°C. It dissolves freely in ethanol and ether but does not mix with water. Chloroform is produced by reaction of chlorine with ethanol and by the reduction of carbon tetrachloride with moist iron. It was once used as a general anesthetic in surgery but has been replaced by less toxic, safer anesthetics, such as ether. Chemically, it is employed as a solvent for fats, alkaloids, iodine, and other substances. When exposed to sunlight and air it reacts to form phosgene, a poisonous gas.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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