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An aromatic crystalline compound with a sweet smell. Camphor is obtained from the steam distillation of the leaves and wood of the camphor laurel tree, Cinnamomum camphora, native to southeast Asia. It forms a white waxy solid when purified by steam distillation and sublimation. Since the 1930s camphor has also been made synthetically. Camphor has been used as an insect repellent and as a vapor phase corrosion inhibitor for metals. It was also used in Celluloid as a plasticizer for Cellulose nitrate. Camphor sublimes slowly as room temperature; once vaporized it can react with and soften many plastics.

Chemical structure


Synonyms and Related Terms

gum camphor; camphre (Fr.); 2-camphanone; 2-bornanone; Japan camphor; Formosa camphor; laurel camphor; synthetic camphor; Campher (Deut.); Kampfer(Deut.); camphre (Fr.); kamfer (Ned., Sven.); kamfora (Pol.); (Port.);


  • Combustible. Flash point = 64C
  • Contact may cause irritation or burns.
  • Ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, vertigo, convulsions and death.
  • Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Rhombohedral crystals.
  • Sublimes at room temperature.
  • Soluble in ethanol, ether, chloroform, aniline, nitrobenzene, carbon disulfide, decalin, ligroin. Slightly soluble in water (0.12 g in 100 ml).
Composition C10H16O
CAS 76-22-2
Melting Point 179.75 C
Density 0.992 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 152.23
Boiling Point 204 C

Resources and Citations

  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • MSDS Sheet Comment: Fisher Scientific 8/02/02: mp = 175-177 C, flash point = 64C
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 134
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Lynda A. Zycherman, J.Richard Schrock, A Guide to Museum Pest Control, FAIC and Association of Systematics Collections, Washington DC, 1988
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • John S. Mills, Raymond White, The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects, Butterworth Heineman, London, 2nd ed., 1994
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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