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Naphthalene facts for kids

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Naphthalene numbering.svg
Other names white tar, camphor tar, tar camphor, naphthalin, naphthaline, antimite, albocarbon, hexalene, mothballs, moth flakes
CAS number 91-20-3
PubChem 931
EC number 214-552-7
KEGG C00829
RTECS number QJ0525000
SMILES c1ccc2ccccc2c1
Beilstein Reference 1421310
Gmelin Reference 3347
Molecular formula C10H8
Molar mass 128.17 g mol-1
Appearance White solid crystals/ flakes
Odor Strong odor of coal tar
Density 1.145 g/cm3 (15.5 °C)
1.0253 g/cm3 (20 °C)
0.9625 g/cm3 (100 °C)
Melting point

78.2 °C, 351 K, 173 °F

Boiling point

217.97 °C, 491 K, 424 °F

Solubility in water 19 mg/L (10 °C)
31.6 mg/L (25 °C)
43.9 mg/L (34.5 °C)
80.9 mg/L (50 °C)>
238.1 mg/L (73.4 °C)
Solubility Soluble in alcohols, liquid ammonia, carboxylic acids, C6H6, SO2, CCl4, CS2, toluene, aniline
Solubility in ethanol 5 g/100 g (0 °C)
11.3 g/100 g (25 °C)
19.5 g/100 g (40 °C)
179 g/100 g (70 °C)
Solubility in acetic acid 6.8 g/100 g (6.75 °C)
13.1 g/100 g (21.5 °C)
31.1 g/100 g (42.5 °C)
111 g/100 g (60 °C)
Solubility in chloroform 19.5 g/100 g (0 °C)
35.5 g/100 g (25 °C)
49.5 g/100 g (40 °C)
87.2 g/100 g (70 °C)
Solubility in hexane 5.5 g/100 g (0 °C)
17.5 g/100 g (25 °C)
30.8 g/100 g (40 °C)
78.8 g/100 g (70 °C)
Solubility in butyric acid 13.6 g/100 g (6.75 °C)
22.1 g/100 g (21.5 °C)
131.6 g/100 g (60 °C)
log P 3.34
Vapor pressure 8.64 Pa (20 °C)
23.6 Pa (30 °C)
0.93 kPa (80 °C)
2.5 kPa (100 °C)
kH 0.42438 L·atm/mol
-91.9·10−6 cm3/mol
Thermal conductivity 98 kPa:
0.1219 W/m·K (372.22 K)
0.1174 W/m·K (400.22 K)
0.1152 W/m·K (418.37 K)
0.1052 W/m·K (479.72 K)
Refractive index (nD) 1.5898
Viscosity 0.964 cP (80 °C)
0.761 cP (100 °C)
0.217 cP (150 °C)
Crystal structure Monoclinic
Space group P21/b
Lattice constant a = 8.235 Å, b = 6.003 Å, c = 8.658 Å
Std enthalpy of
formation ΔfHo298
78.53 kJ/mol
Std enthalpy of
combustion ΔcHo298
-5156.3 kJ/mol
Standard molar
entropy So298
167.39 J/mol·K
Specific heat capacity, C 165.72 J/mol·K
Main hazards Flammable, sensitizer, possible carcinogen. Dust can form explosive mixtures with air
NFPA 704

NFPA 704.svg

Explosive limits 5.9%
U.S. Permissible
exposure limit (PEL)
TWA 10 ppm (50 mg/m3)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Naphthalene is a crystalline, white hydrocarbon, with a strong smell. It is best known as the main ingredient in mothballs, urinal deodorizer blocks, and can be used as an antiseptic. In mothballs, it is used as an insecticide or pesticide.

Naphthalene is toxic. In humans, being exposed to naphthalene can destroy red blood cells. Naphthalene may also cause cancer.


In the early 1820s, two different papers are published on something that matches the description of Naphthalene. Both groups made it by distilling coal tar. In 1821 John Kidd cited both reports, and condensed their results to accurately describe the properties of naphthalene, and how to make it. Kidd named it naphthalene because "naphtha"  means any explosive hydrocarbon mixture. By 1826, Michael Faraday discovered the formula for it. Emil Erlenmeyer proposes that it is two fused benzene rings in 1866, and Carl Gräbe confirms this three years later.

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