Reactivity and Incompatibility

Chloroform reacts violently with alkali metals such as sodium and potassium, with a mixture of acetone and base, and with a number of strong bases such as potassium and sodium hydroxide, potassium t-butoxide, sodium methoxide, and sodium hydride. Chloroform reacts explosively with fluorine and dinitrogen tetroxide.

Storage and Handling

Chloroform should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C. In the presence of light, chloroform undergoes autoxidation to generate phosgene; this can be minimized by storing this substance in the dark under nitrogen. Commercial samples of chloroform frequently contain 0.5 to 1% ethanol as a stabilizer.


In the event of skin contact, immediately wash with soap and water and remove contaminated clothing. In case of eye contact, promptly wash with copious amounts of water for 15 min (lifting upper and lower lids occasionally) and obtain medical attention. If chloroform is ingested, obtain medical attention immediately. If large amounts of this compound are inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention at once.

In the event of a spill, soak up chloroform with a spill pillow or absorbent material, place in an appropriate container, and dispose of properly. Respiratory protection may be necessary in the event of a large spill or release in a confined area.


Excess chloroform and waste material containing this substance should be placed in an appropriate container, clearly labeled, and handled according to your institution's waste disposal guidelines. For more information on disposal procedures, see Chapter 7 of this volume.

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