Benzalkonium chloride

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An odorless antiseptic compound widely used as a disinfectant in detergents. Benzalkonium chloride is active at low concentrations and has been used to kill bacteria, fungi, Algae, and lichens. It does not kill spores. This type of quaternary ammonium compound has reduced effectiveness in solutions containing hard water, salts, or organic compounds.

Synonyms and Related Terms

alkyldimethylbenzyl ammonium chloride; alkyl dimethylbenzyl ammonium chloride; alkyldimethyl(phenylmethyl)quaternary ammonium chlorides; quaternary ammonium compounds; alkylbenzyldimethyl chloride; Zephiran chloride; Preventol R50, R80, R90 [Bayer]; Hyamine 3500 [Rohm & Haas]; Céquartyl [Rhone Poulenc]; Neo-desogen [Ciba Geigy]; Benirol; BTC; Zephirol

Chemical structure

Benzalkonium chloride.jpg


  • Corrosive.
  • Hygroscopic.
  • Contact causes skin irritation.
  • Toxic by ingestion and inhalation. LD50 = 240 mg/kg.
  • An overdose may cause shortness of breath, cyanosis, CNS depression, low blood pressure, coma.
  • Found to be a teratogen in animals.
  • Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in sorbitol solutions, glycerol, ether, water

CAS 8001-54-5
Density 0.98 g/ml

Resources and Citations

  • The Merck Index, Susan Budavari (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 12th Edition, 1996
  • MSDS Sheet Comment: Fisher Scientific 8/20/2002
  • G.Caneva, M.P.Nugari, O.Salvadori, Biology in the Conservation of Works of Art, ICCROM, Rome, 1991