In its purest form, formaldehyde is a colorless, highly toxic, and flammable gas with a strong pungent odor. It is formed primarily by the combustion of organic materials and by a variety of natural and anthropogenic activities.
What Is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring volatile compound that is also known as methanal and formalin. It is the simplest aldehyde compound. It is used in industry, pharmaceutical, food industry, etc. It can be prepared by oxidation of alcohol i.e methanol. The molecular mass of formaldehyde is 30 grams per mole which is the sum of the atomic masses of all the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.
Chemical Formula of Formaldehyde
As formaldehyde is the simplest form of an aldehyde that is why it is composed of only two carbon atoms. The functional group which is present in formaldehyde is the aldehyde group. That is why another name for formaldehyde is methanal. The compound contains an aldehyde functional group whose name begins with ‘al’. The suffix “Meth” indicates that it contains one carbon. It also contains one Oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. Hence, the chemical formula of formaldehyde is CH2O.
Structural Formula of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde consists of two carbon where one carbon is attached to an oxygen atom by a double bond and attached to the other carbon by a single bond. The other carbon is also attached with three hydrogen atoms to complete its octet. Hence, the structural formula of formaldehyde is CH2O (H– CHO).
Physical and Chemical Properties of Formaldehyde
Gaseous Formaldehyde:- Formaldehyde gas is highly reactive, highly flammable, and can form explosive mixtures in air. It is readily soluble in water, alcohol, and other polar solvents. Its density at 20°C is 0.82 grams per mole. Its boiling point is -21 to -19°C.
Formalin:- Formalin can be a flammable liquid when the formaldehyde or methanol concentration is high. Formalin may become cloudy on standing, especially at a low temperature, and form paraformaldehyde at a very low temperature. Its density at 20°C is 1.03-1.10 grams per mole. Its boiling point is 96°C.
Use of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is used in many cosmetic preparations
Formaldehyde is also used in oral hygiene preparations
It is used in nail hardeners and sprays.