Jump to navigation Jump to search


A former trademark for an aqueous solution of Formaldehyde at a concentration of 37% by weight (40% by volume). Current commercial formulations of formalin normally contains about 10-15% of methanol to prevent polymerization of the formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a powerful reducing agent that will react with many materials on contact. It is used as a disinfectant, fumigant, embalming fluid, tanning agent, paint preservative, and photo processing chemical. Formalin has also been used as an aerosol and fumigant to treat algae on stone at the Lascaux caves (Lefevre 1974). When sprayed directly on a material, formalin may leave a white residue of paraformaldehyde.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Formalin 100; Formalin 40; Formol (Deut.); morbicid; formaldehyde solution

Density 1.075

Hazards and Safety

Toxic by inhalation and a carcinogen. LD50 = 800 mg/kg

Inhalation and skin contact will cause irritation and burns.

Additional Information

M.Lefrevre, "La 'maladie verte' de Lascaux," Studies in Conservation, 19(3),1974.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • 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 Comment: entry 4262
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • S.R.Trotman, E.R. Trotman, Textile Analysis, J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1932
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • G.Caneva, M.P.Nugari, O.Salvadori, Biology in the Conservation of Works of Art, ICCROM, Rome, 1991
  • Website address 1 Comment: conservation termlist :