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White, tetragonal prism shaped crystals with an ammonia odor. Urea was discovered in 1773 by Hilaire-Marin Rouelle as a constituent of Urine. It was first synthesized by Friedrich Wohler in 1828. Urea is used in the manufacture of fertilizers, plastics (polyurethanes), and flameproofing agents. It is also used as a viscosity modifier for Starch and Casein based paper coatings. Urea is also used by the paper industry to soften Cellulose. Urea rapidly denatures proteins.

Synonyms and Related Terms

carbamide; carbonyldiamide; urinstof (Dan.); Harnstoff (Deut.); urea(Esp., It., Sven.); urée (Fr.); ureum (Ned.); mocznik (Pol.); uréia (Port.)



Chemical structure


Other Properties

Soluble in water, ethanol, benzene. Slightly soluble in ether. Insoluble in chloroform.

Composition CO(NH2)2
CAS 57-13-6
Melting Point 132.7
Density 1.335
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 60.06

Hazards and Safety


Mallinckrodt Baker: MSDS

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Palmy Weigle, Ancient Dyes for Modern Weavers, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1974
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 10005
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 836
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998