Camphor creates a flame

Camphor C.10H16O

Teflon closure
White, crystalline powder

Resin of the camphor tree, essential oils in plants
molar mass 152.233 g / mol

AGWnot specified
density0.990 g / cm3   
Melting point +178.7 ° C
boiling point +209 ° C
Water solubility 
Conc. At 20 ° C 0.1 g / l
Explosion limit 0.6 to 3.5 vol% (air)
Flash point +66 ° C
Ignition point +466 ° C
GHS 02
GHS 07
Hazard classes + category 
Flammable solids 1
Skin irritation 2
Eye irritation 2
Spec. Target organ tox. e. Airways 3
HP rates (see also note)     
H 228, 315, 319, 335
P 210, 280.1-3, 302 + 352, 304 + 340, 305 + 351 + 338
disposal G 3
Print a labelGerman designation 
Synonyms (German)
English designation 
CAS 76-22-2
1,7,7-trimethylbicyclo (2.2.1) heptan-2-one
1,7,7-trimethylbicyclo (2.2.1) heptan-2-one

Effect on the human body

As an analeptic, camphor has a stimulating effect on the nervous system and the respiratory organs, provided it is used in low doses. It creates a sensation of warmth and a slight reddening on the skin, as the blood circulation is promoted. When inhaling the vapors, a habitual effect gradually takes place, so that the smell is no longer perceived. Ingestion leads to a slight burning sensation on the mucous membranes. Headache, vomiting, dizziness, hallucinations or tremors may occur at higher doses. Severe poisoning manifests itself in convulsions or respiratory paralysis, which can even be fatal. Kidney or liver damage can also occur. Two grams taken internally can cause severe symptoms of intoxication.

Camphor forms white, orthorhombic crystals or a crystalline powder with a eucalyptus-like, tart, aromatic odor. Camphor tastes hot and bitter. It is hardly soluble in water and glycerine, it dissolves well in alcohol and other organic solvents such as diethyl ether, acetone or fatty oils. Camphor sublimes even at room temperature. It is easily combustible and burns with a sooty flame. Camphor is relatively stable in air and does not oxidize when heated.


In nature there are two enantiomers with mirror image isomerism. In the bark and resin of the camphor tree, however, one finds predominantly the right-handed (+) - camphor. In the chemicals trade, you usually get an unspecified racemate of the two enantiomers. But the pure forms are also available.

Skeletal formula
Enantiomer(+) - camphor(-) - Camphor
CAS number464-49-3464-48-2

Camphor can be obtained from the grated bark and resin of the camphor tree by steam distillation. The crude product is purified by recrystallization. Camphor can be produced synthetically in several intermediate steps from α-pinene, which is found in numerous essential oils, for example turpentine oil.

Camphor is used as a fragrance in cosmetics. In connection with tree resins it can be found in incense sticks. Ointments with up to ten percent camphor are used as a remedy for rheumatism, muscle strain or inflammatory edema. In cold ointments, the vapors, together with other substances such as eucalyptus oil for inhalation, have an anti-inflammatory effect on the bronchial mucosa. The camphor oil available in pharmacies to combat colds is a 10% camphor solution in peanut oil.

The chemical industry needs camphor for the production of celluloid and as a plasticizer for cellulose esters. Camphor is used as fuel in fireworks, where it creates a spark-spraying combustion together with sulfur and an oxidizing agent. Camphor is also used in the manufacture of demolition gelatine. He drives away the clothes-eating insects in mothballs.

In chemistry lessons, camphor can be used to demonstrate sublimation and resublimation at reduced pressure in a closed system in a vacuum sublimation apparatus due to the low triple point (179 ° C at 493 mbar). To do this, a little camphor is placed in the vessel with a side tube. A vacuum pump is connected to the side pipe. A cold finger cooled with water sits in the apparatus. The camphor then resublimates on this. Sublimation and resublimation can also be shown in an open system at normal pressure by simply heating: A little camphor is heated in a larger test tube. The smaller test tube inside contains ice for cooling or a cold finger can be used. The resublimated product is purer than the starting product. This is how you can purify raw camphor.