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What is Chloroform?

Chloroform is a toxic, sweet smelling, colorless liquid.
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  • Originally Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Revised By: Phil Riddel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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Chloroform, also known as trichloromethane, is a colorless, sweetly scented liquid with the chemical formula CHCl3. It is best known for its historical use as a general anesthetic, although this has since been abandoned due to safety concerns. Today, trichloromethane is used in a variety of industrial processes, including the manufacture of plastics, refrigerants, and solvents. It is found in small quantities in water and the atmosphere; most of this comes from natural sources. Chloroform is toxic and rapidly releases vapor when exposed to the air, so it should be handled with care.

Production

This compound was originally made by the reaction of ethanol or acetone with bleaching powder — calcium hypochlorite. In modern times, however, it is manufactured industrially by combining methane with chlorine. Small amounts of the chemical are produced naturally by marine life, such as seaweeds, and by the decomposition of plant remains in the soil. The main human sources in the environment are from the use of chlorine as a bleaching agent in paper mills, and the chlorination of drinking water. The chlorine reacts with various organic compounds to produce trichloromethane, but the amounts present in chlorinated water are tiny and are not thought to pose any risk to human health under normal circumstances.

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Uses

The use of chloroform as an anesthetic dates from 1847, but concerns were soon raised about its safety. In 1848, a patient died because her heart beat because rapid and irregular while she was anesthetized, and continued use only cemented the link between the chemical and cardiac events. By the early 20th century, the use of chloroform was in decline, and it was abandoned in favor of safer and cheaper alternatives by around 1940. Today, safer anesthetics such as halothane, isoflurane, and sevoflurane, and others are used. When a less expensive alternative is required, as is the case in some impoverished nations, ether, an older anesthetic, is often preferred.

Today, the biggest use of chloroform is in the production of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a relatively heat-resistant plastic best known for its use as a non-stick coating for pots and pans. The compound is first reacted with hydrogen fluoride to form chlorodifluoromethane, a compound used as a refrigerant and a propellant for aerosol cans. This use has been phased out in many countries, due to its effects on the ozone layer, but its production is still an important step in the manufacture of PTFE.

In the laboratory, trichloromethane is often used as a solvent, as it is stable, relatively unreactive, and dissolves many organic compounds. It is very effective in extracting substances from plant material and is used in this way in the pharmaceutical industry for extracting drugs and drug precursors from plants. It may also be employed in analytical chemistry to isolate compounds from samples and is used in the synthesis of many organic chemicals.

Health Effects

The anesthetic effects of chloroform are well known and are due to inhibition of central nervous system activity. Inhalation of the vapor can quickly bring about unconsciousness, but a very high dose can be fatal. The chemical also affects the activity in other major organs, including the heart, which makes it dangerous as an anesthetic. It is considered moderately toxic — in terms of acute effects — if swallowed, but a dose of 0.35 fluid ounces (10 milliliters) can be fatal in humans.

Long-term exposure to relatively low concentrations of trichloromethane can have a number of adverse effects, especially on the liver and kidneys. There may be a cancer risk associated with exposure to this chemical. Although there is no conclusive evidence of a cancer link in humans, tests on animals have shown chloroform to cause liver and kidney tumors, and in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified it as a “probable human carcinogen.” Exposure is most likely to occur in an industrial or laboratory setting, but small amounts of it are present in the atmosphere and in water. Since it does not react with many naturally occurring substances, it can take a long time to break down and may build up in groundwater.

Another potential risk in the handling and storage of chloroform is the formation of the highly toxic gas, phosgene, which was used as a chemical weapon during World War I. In the presence of light, trichloromethane reacts with oxygen in the air to produce this gas. For this reason, it is stored in dark glass bottles.

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anon215203
Post 60

I reading the news paper and saw and so the Caylee Anthony case. I saw the word and decided to do a research on it. Well I've learned something new today.

anon201874
Post 59

This article is supposed to be about chloroform not Casey Anthony. Why can't we just forget about her? So what? There's nothing we can do.

debmabus
Post 58

I'm amazed at the analogies that I see posted here. Let's deal in facts. There was insufficient evidence! An acquittal was the only option the jury had. Let's be real and adult about this. It's over and she cannot be retried.

anon196815
Post 57

I think casey soaked a rag in chloroform put it over her child's mouth to make her go to sleep and since it takes so long for it to work the girl died from suffocation.

anon196057
Post 56

@anon195008: Umm, how exactly was justice served? We all know had the jury been allowed to see all the evidence, they would have had to convict Casey. Oh, wait. Maybe not with these dim-bulbs. I'm sure they would just say George framed her. Whatever.

anon195008
Post 55

Thanks to the twelve jurors for only taking 11 hours to decide a murderer is not guilty. How could they have looked at all the evidence again to decide in that short time? When asked for a comment on this case, lawyers and judges are saying we have to believe and rely on our system, but there was plenty of circumstantial evidence and common sense should have prevailed here. Face it: the jury made a big mistake letting her go. Too bad there cannot ever be a do over.

anon194735
Post 54

Casey accidentally overdosed Caylee then panicked, drove around with the body in the car and when the body began to smell, she panicked again and dumped the body in the woods because the body had started smelling. This is why she abandoned her car and did not call anyone to help bring her any gas.

Remember she always gave out of gas but she always asked for help. Not this time, though, because the car had begun to smell from the decomposing body and that is why she tried to party to keep the suspicion off her. That is why no one suspected anything until her mother called the police.

debmabus
Post 53

Many thanks to the twelve jurors in the Casey Anthony case! Thank you for relying solely on the evidence and not on public opinion and media hype! Justice has been served!

anon193457
Post 52

This case is a circumstantial evidence case as is many a case brought before the court. You need only to use your common sense to find Casey guilty. She was the one last seen with Caylee, She was the only one who would benefit if the child was not around. She lied over and over to the police and did nothing to help find the child. She first said abduction, then on the phone video her mom says they are saying caylee drowned and she laughs and says no, but she says George told her to hide the accident and make it look like murder. Who does that? Dr. G found it a murder.

Just because it was too late to determine how Caylee died does not change that fact. We all have our opinion, that is why there are 12 people on a jury. They will go back and forth and make the decision. Justice for Caylee is what is important. If mom did not hurt that child, who did? I do not feel the state proved the premeditation, but the child died while in the care of her mother. Mother hid it for 30 or 31 days and partied. That tatto says it all: Beautiful life. Remember she got that after her baby was gone. There was a letter that was released to the public in her handwriting five days after her child was killed. It said "I have never been happier". The state was not allowed to enter into evidence the suicide note belonging to George and I think they also kept this letter out.

I do not believe in the death penalty, but she needs to go away for life and if not, then one of the 30 year terms at least. That sweet child is gone because of the sick woman. Listen to her phone call from jail to her mom, that is the real Casey. Vulgar and mean. Her words were "I can't cry every two minutes" and she called not to get help with finding her daughter, but for the phone number of her boyfriend. Her friend, talking to her, sounds hysterical and says "if anything has happened to that baby, I would want to die". Circumstantial evidence is there galore in this case. Guilty!

debmabus
Post 51

It is so very sad that our great nation has veered so far away from the constitution! This woman is innocent until proven guilty. Opinions should be based solely on the evidence. In my opinion (from seeing all of the evidence) is that there is sufficient reasonable doubt in this case. She must be acquitted!

anon192803
Post 50

I wanted to know what chloroform was used for, since it was brought up in the Casey Anthony case. I really think she did it. She wanted to party and would use the chloroform to make her sleep. I think she put the tape over her mouth just in case she woke up at the house no one would hear her. And she know that if she would wake up she would start crying. And people would hear her and called the police on her.

I think she did this a lot but this time she did not realize she covered her nose where the child could not breathe. She will have to pay for this.

anon192446
Post 49

She made up the nanny in 06. She left Caylee by herself for that long. that is why she made up the nanny. Her boyfriend had chloroform on his myspace. that is where casey got the idea of chloroform from. im sure she used other type of drugs to put caylee to sleep and this time it killed her.

There was a movie a few years back with julian moore. she would drug her son to be with her boyfriend and she killed him finally by accident and she reported him missing. the only thing is, she confessed.

anon190574
Post 48

Chlorine reacts with ethenol to form chloroform. Pool water

usually contains chlorine. Caylee did drown but not accidentally. Casey wanted the "good life" and Caylee was

holding her back.

She drowned her, triple bagged her and threw her away with a little sticker over her mouth saying "goodbye to you."

Chloroform, Zenaida, etc are just to throw the authorities

off the scent. If Cindy had not reported Caylee's disappearance to the police, 31 days could have gone much longer, thanks to Casey.

anon189081
Post 46

So Chloroform is formed by a reaction of chlorine and ethanol and the Febreze is the ethanol. Cindy sprayed "a whole can of Febreze" in the trunk and drinking water is chlorinated. What else did Cindy Anthony use to clean the trunk? I think the chloroform formed naturally, and the Florida chemist said it wasn't even in high amounts. He tested the same air samples that Vass tested.

anon188974
Post 45

In this country, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. However, in this case, Casey Anthony was tried on TV and by Nancy Grace and in the street and found guilty from day one.

There is no evidence of murder and no one can put the mother's hands on the child. She probably is guilty and maybe it was an accident, but how can we find this girl guilty when they can't even say how the child died? Can they prove murder with no weapon, no DNA and no confession? The duct tape should have given them something, but where is the rest of it? No duct tape was found in the home, no fingerprints, no evidence of her making chloroform and since when do we release all the information that has been released by the DA to the public? Is that because they are determined to send her to the chair by making her out to be a monster, by making the public hate her?

Well, the police didn't have to work hard. Nancy Grace has shown a dislike and made this the sensational TV show. This case has given Nancy Grace the name no other criminal has. She doesn't just report the news – she sensationalizes it.

One thing that bothers me is why did the DA pick a picture of the child with a black eye, even though the black eye was an accident? Is it because they want the jury to think of child abuse, that the jury may forget the black eye was an accident but they will not forget the black eye?

Chloroform breaks down in the sunlight and air, so just when did they do these tests that show chloroform, and if the coroner couldn't find the cause of death why didn't she send the remains to the FBI forensic labs, instead of basing her opinion (not facts) on the conversations she had with the police? Is that because coroners have the right to make a decision based on the theory of the police?

How many innocent people have been incarcerated because of shoddy police work? How does one go to the chair because of a "smell", when there is no scientific evidence of the smell? Is there a difference between the smell of a rat, human or dog? Even if there was, can you tell it was the child or something else?

Casey is obviously guilty of poor judgment, bad parenting (which is a learned thing) and of being a liar, but there is no solid evidence for murder. Unless you are Nancy Grace who is out to make her show so sensational that her name is on the lips of 90 percent of the people in this country. She is so biased and hateful, she slants the news. The DA should be paying her because she did the work for him. She managed to make the people of Florida and I guess everywhere else forget the constitution that gives us rights. By the way, the judges is Iran can sentence someone to be stoned to death based on a "gut feeling." Is that what we, and especially Nancy Grace, are doing?

a1944
Post 44

So far everything points to the mother. Her actions speak volumes. She partied, got a tattoo and shopped while she admits her child was missing at that time. She lied to the police constantly about where the child was. The amount of people saying they smelled human decomposition in the trunk of her car seems to say, dead body. Why would strangers as well as her mother say that. No one else had any reason to kill the child, just her, to be rid of her. If the duct tape cannot be proved to have been over the child's mouth and nose, it still leaves the chloroform. Mother researched it. No one else home at the time except her. If she did it accidentally, in the case of a child, it is murder. She may have wanted the child to sleep while she partied and the child died. Still, she would be at fault. The child cries out for justice.

anon187116
Post 43

I think she used small amounts of chloroform on Caylee more than just once to knock her out, then Casey would leave her in the car while she was out drinking and partying for hours. It may have been that when Caylee was a small child, she didn't object to the trunk but as she grew she resisted.

One night, she left the bar drunk, perhaps was drugged up too, and when she woke up several hours later she realized that she left Caylee in the car, but by the time she got to the car, Caylee had suffocated from the chloroform and heat in the trunk. She couldn't call the cops because they would find out about chloroform.

During this time of year the heat in Florida is extremely bad, so the small body deteriorated really fast. Casey hid or buried the body somewhere else, perhaps in the back yard or under the playhouse in the back yard which is why the dogs picked up the scent. But she removed the body and then dumped her body in hte wooded area and it was filled with water.

It was within a short time frame when her mother called 911. Where was she going or what was she doing all those years that her parents thought she was working? Where was she getting money from? She had looked up other things on the computer too. I believe she was probably planning to get rid of her parents too, but Caylee accidentially died from repeated chloroform poisoning.

anon186618
Post 42

All I can say is wow. This definitely clears up any doubts I have. And the funny thing is I also thought that poor little girl was being drugged from xanax myself. It's really sad to think what this poor little girl might have had to go though in the short life that she had all because her so-called mother is selfish. She deserves to burn in hell. Why people like her a given these little miracles we calll children I will never know. God bless little Caylee.

west23
Post 41

I cannot find any explanation for the choloroform. I think that is the one piece of evidence which proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey is guilty of murder.

west23
Post 40

I'm so confused. As a mother of a two year old, I cannot fathom the idea that this was done intentionally. Even if she wanted a life of partying, it seems as though she had a support system that would have cared for Caylee.

Everyone is so quick to accuse, but I know we don't have the whole story. Casey partying does not mean that she killed her daughter, in fact in my opinion (losing a close relative and seeing the reactions of her family) the extreme partying very well could have been influenced by the death of Caylee. A way for Casey to forget about the pain.

Right now, my opinion is that Caylee died and Casey felt guilty for the reason behind her death. I don't believe it was in the pool, but I also do not believe Casey killed her. If she wanted to make it look like a kidnapping, she could have put the duct tape on after she had died. She left her with items that meant something to Caylee, so that tells us she did care for her daughter. Maybe she had her in the trunk for so long because she was grieving and couldn't let her go? I don't know, but I cannot see how anyone, especially a mother, could watch their child die. This is what I believe, and want to believe, but as I said. I'm so confused right now.

If it was accidental, where did the chloroform come in to play? And even though I cannot fathom the idea, it's still possible as we've seen in other cases. Typically, the mothers do not kill the child, they leave them to die. Such as in the case of the mother driving the car into the lake. But then I recall having heard of a mother who shot her children, and thought well, it was quick there was no time for the mother to think of what she was doing and change her mind. Then lastly, I recall the case where the mother actually physically drowned her children. And for this reason we know it is possible that a mother, even a mother that cares for their child, can watch their child die.

The difference it seems in these cases is the number of signs the mother showed before killing her children. Does anyone know what signs Casey displayed before Caylee went missing? Other than the partying etc. that's not enough evidence for me to convict someone of murder, like I said, it could be a form of self medicating.

The strongest piece of evidence right now I think is the Chloroform. There's no reason there should have been any traces of it if she died suddenly of an accidental cause.

anon186253
Post 39

Wow, whoever is sticking up for casey anthony saying don't judge her and saying roy cronk did this, are you kidding? I hope casey gets the chair and rots in her cell the way she let her daughter rot in the woods.

susanc
Post 38

Casey anthony will die and will forever be haunted with the fact that she killed her daughter who was just beginning to live. casey will suffer for what she did. She will be judged and she will die painfully for taking the life of another. She will always remember what she did to her daughter. She will never forget. and others will never forget. Her death will be far worse than chloroform.

anon184518
Post 34

who has ever even heard of this stuff ? I guess Casey wanted to hang out with her new found friends and put her daughter to sleep only to overdose her while she was out or trying to sleep off a hangover.

anon184511
Post 33

I wish people would shut up talking bad about Casey Anthony!

I believe that Roy Cronk should be looked at again. His ex-wife was on the news stating how Roy Cronk used to use duct tape on her and she said on the news that she thinks that her husband killed Caylee Anthony. I am not saying he did it, but he needs to be looked at carefully! See for yourself exactly what Roy Kronk's ex-wife said on the news by going on online.

To all of you who are talking bad about Casey Anthony: Which of you on this website has not sinned a day in your life? If you have not sinned, then you are welcome to cast the first stone at Casey Anthony, but the fact is that everyone in the world has sinned, so you all need to stop passing judgment on her!

I am a Christian and Jesus Christ told of a great story about a woman who had committed the sin of adultery and some men came to Jesus and told Jesus that the woman should be stoned to death because she committed adultery and this is what happened with Jesus, the woman, and the men who were accusing her of this sin (crime) against God:

John 8: 3-11 (KJV):

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him (Jesus) a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?”

11 She said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

anon184504
Post 32

i actually came on here to see what chloroform really is. now i think that casey anthony really killed her daughter.

anon184092
Post 31

Chloroform is such a powerful chemical that when used the subject becomes unconscious almost immediately.

Anyone who purposefully uses it on a victim has no concern for the well being of that individual. The likelihood of an overdose and the person dying from its use is tremendously high.

No question Casey Anthony used it on her child.

anon184078
Post 30

I am so sick to my stomach! I was curious to see what chloroform because I’m following this case. Sick! I believe that Casey put a on front about how she “cared and loved her daughter in front of people” And was an evil witch at home with her. That lady cares more about parties and guys and drinking.

I believe she killed her daughter because she wasn’t a mother figure at all. I am a mother, I have a seven year old son and I’m 26. I wasn’t ready to be a mom, I was scared, but I got help, took care of my son and reached out. And I would never exchange my son for the world and I would never hurt my son for anything, If I want to party I would put my kid in the arms of a good caretaker. Evil! Pure evil! If my son drowned in a pool and died, I would not lie about it like Casey is doing. She’s guilty all the way and deserves the death penalty! --Rose P. from Massachusetts

anon182715
Post 29

I wanted to know what chloroform was too because of the Casey Anthony trial. I think she is a sociopath with no conscience. When you lie that fast and for so long, you start to believe what lies you are spouting. And where did she get chloroform from? What did she do when she said she was at pretend work for all those years? psychopath liar with no conscience.

anon122796
Post 27

So chloroform doesn't make shoes and floors glossy? I'm a bit lost on that part. Shiny dress shoes are often called chloroforms. Apparently it is easy to manufacture at home as well?

Okay crazy. I agree that the nut lady wanted to go out and party, that's what sitters or more responsible people are for. Sad enough that some people have been reported as using Benadryl on their kids so they sleep earlier and longer. To add: since chloroform is, in fact, real, why don't we use sodium pentathol on suspects in order to get the truth out of them? Maybe a dumb question.

anon92388
Post 26

I swear people nowadays are just plain dumb. Nancy Grace is an evil psychopath and the longer you watch her the lower your I.Q. goes down.

anon77468
Post 25

if casey anthony used chloroform to kill her child Caylee would have had a trace of the drug on her remains, but there wasn't.

Also if Casey had made the chloroform in her home there would have been left over traces, and there wasn't. I believe it wasn't Casey Anthony who killed her child, but a man named Roy Kronk who was known for his abusive characteristics and for his weird fetish with duct tape.

anon76542
Post 24

i kinda knew what it was but wanted to make sure so i also looked it up after i saw about Caylee Anthony on Nancy Grace. I hope she rots in hell for killing that beautiful baby. She did it.

i mean she knew about the blanket and black bag that police never mentioned to anyone.

i would say she accidentally gave her too much chloroform and it accidentally killed her but that doesn't explain the tape over the mouth and nose. If she was already dead why would they put tape over her face like that? Murder.

anon75757
Post 22

wow that's crazy how everyone looked the word up for the same reason i did, but yeah, the Casey Anthony case is crazy and her Mother too. I hope she pays. her daughter was just so little. she could have been someone when she got older. Too bad her mother had to ruin it for her. God rest her soul.

altadenagirl
Post 19

As a mom, I can't even imagine drugging a child. Could it be that Casey Anthony had used this drug before, or xanax (ie xanny the nanny?) and that she "accidentally" killed the child? She might have placed duct tape over her mouth in case she would wake up or cry. The poor grandparents and relatives. It breaks my heart.

anon30773
Post 18

Maybe Casey used halothane instead or with chloroform - that could be why the prosecution added a veterinarian to their witness list.

anon27755
Post 16

I have been following the Anthony case for some time now. I wasn't too sure what cloroform was so I googled it. Shocking you know what someone would do just because of jealousy or because they wanted their freedom. If she didn't want Caley she could have turned her over to her family. So so sad..Very disturbing.

Newfoundland, Canada

anon27174
Post 15

This is really sad, I cry each and every time I see a picture of little Caylee! I can't understand for the life of me *why* her selfish mother could do such a thing, then make it look as if the baby was abducted by putting duck tape around her face and head and throwing her little body in the woods, then parting with friends and lying to everyone about her whereabouts! as if *nobody* will ever find out! I mean come on !!! Her poor Grandparents who are soooo hurt over their baby granddaughter that they loved soooo dearly and would do anything for her.

anon26694
Post 14

*Wow*, seems like everyone looked this up for the same reason as I did! I know what is was (heard of it before) but didn't know how it could kill her. Now I know!

anon25273
Post 13

I google chloroform to see what is was as I keep hearing it from the caylee anthony case.....Now I know..That poor little girl

anon25008
Post 12

I didn't know what it was either so I googled it, I think Casey Anthony needs to sit in jail for the rest of her life and be reminded everyday of what she done to her little child and I pray it haunts her the rest of her life for what she done. I could never hurt my kids let alone kill them...

dana
Post 11

I didn't know what chloroform was but now that i do i think somebody needs to use it on casey anthony just like she did that precious baby girl.

anon23627
Post 10

I have been horrified at the behavior of this idiot who apparently would rather kill her child than give her to Cindy Anthony. I heard Jesse Grund say that he and Casey broke up because Casey thought Jesse loved Caylee more than her. I think she is evil to the core, and just maybe she is a spiteful person that should spend the rest of her life behind bars.

anon23617
Post 9

i have followed the case of the caylee anthony and was just curious about the chloroform. I really think the tot mom, her ex-boyfriend and her brother really knows bout what happened to this innocent child. all of them should be locked in a cell with several life sentence inmates and throw the keys over in the Florida Keys.

anon23601
Post 8

Now that i know what Choroform is, it is crazy to believe that a mother would kill their own child by using such a terrible liquid to kill an innocent child, where is this world going to end!!!

anon23548
Post 7

I was wondering what chloroform was since traces of it had been found in Casey Anthony's car.

anon23267
Post 6

I just want to know how this crazy lady used this chemical or Chloroform to use on her daughter to go party Caylee was innocent and Angel just starting to live that monster never gave her chance .. sorry I'm upset

anon23264
Post 5

I have been reading and listening to Nancy Grace and I was not familiar with chloroform, so I needed to look it up to see what it actually was, I have also been listening to the Caylee Anthony case, my thoughts and prayers are with this baby girl.

anon22916
Post 3

I have been watching the case of caylee anthony and i kept hearing the word chloroform and i didn't know what it was or what it did...Now all of my questions have been answered...Thanks

eastwest
Post 2

I'm always reading old detective stories where people were knocked out or drugged with chloroform - or it is used as a verb: "chloroformed" - I've wondered for a long time what it actually was. Thanks for clearing it up!

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