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Uncovering the Properties and Versatile Uses of Carbon Tetrabromide

Carbon Tetrabromide: An Overview of Its Properties and Classification

Carbon tetrabromide, also known as tetrabromomethane (CBr4), is a colourless, heavy, and odourless liquid that has a tetrahedral molecular geometry, containing four Br-Br covalent bonds and one central carbon atom. In this article, we will discuss the properties and classification of this inorganic crystal and covalent compound.


Physical Properties

Carbon tetrabromide has a density of 3.42 g/cm3, which makes it heavier than water. It is practically insoluble in water, but it dissolves in several organic solvents, such as chloroform and carbon tetrachloride.

It is relatively stable at normal temperatures and pressures, but when exposed to heat or flames, it decomposes into toxic gases, such as hydrogen bromide and bromine.

Molecular Structure and Bonding

Carbon tetrabromide has a tetrahedral molecular geometry with hybrid orbitals. It has a bond angle of 109.5 degrees, which is characteristic of sp3 hybridization.

Carbon tetrabromide utilizes its four hybrid orbitals to form covalent bonds with bromine molecules. These covalent bonds are polar, as bromine is more electronegative than carbon.

The polar nature of C-Br bonds and their significant dipole moments give carbon tetrabromide a non-zero net dipole moment.

Electron Configuration and Oxidation State

Carbon tetrabromide has a total of 28 electrons, including the valence shell of carbon. Thus, its electronic configuration is [He] 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 and it has an oxidation state of +4.

Carbon’s electronegativity is 2.55, whereas bromine’s electronegativity is 2.96. Since the difference in electronegativity is less than 0.5, carbon tetrabromide is relatively non-polar and does not exhibit significant acidity or alkalinity.

Other Properties

Carbon tetrabromide is a colourless, viscous liquid that has a molar density of 331.63 g/mol. It has a melting point of -92C and a boiling point of 189C.

It is mildly toxic and may cause skin irritation upon exposure.


Chemical Classification

Carbon tetrabromide is an inorganic crystal and covalent compound, belonging to the tetrahalomethane group. This group consists of halogenated derivatives of methane, where some or all of the hydrogen atoms on the methane molecule are substituted with halogen atoms.

The tetrahalomethane group includes carbon tetrabromide (CBr4), carbon tetrafluoride (CF4), carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), and carbon tetraiodide (CI4). Acidity/Alkaline

Carbon tetrabromide has negligible acidity and alkalinity due to its non-polar nature.

Polarity and Conductivity

Carbon tetrabromide is relatively non-polar, meaning that its covalent bonds are relatively evenly distributed between carbon and bromine. As a result, it does not conduct electricity when dissolved in water or other polar solvents.

Crystal Structure

Carbon tetrabromide exhibits an orthorhombic crystal structure, consisting of one-dimensional chains that are cross-linked via van der Waals forces. The crystal unit cell has four molecules comprising a unit cell volume of 605.06 3.


Carbon tetrabromide hydrates well in water, forming tri- and tetra-hydrate molecular complexes. Nevertheless, the use of carbon tetrabromide in hydrate form is limited to specialized applications as it is challenging to produce and stores.


Carbon tetrabromide is a unique compound with a variety of properties and classifications. It is relatively stable and non-polar, but it can be toxic under certain conditions.

Understanding its properties and classification can aid in the design and use of substances that incorporate or interact with it. Carbon Tetrabromide: A Comprehensive Analysis of Its Reactions and Uses

Carbon tetrabromide (CBr4) is a versatile compound that is widely used in numerous industrial and research settings.

In this article, we will dive into the details of carbon tetrabromide reactions with bases, acids, and metals, and examine its various uses.


Reaction with Base

Carbon tetrabromide reacts with bases to form bromide salts. For example, it reacts with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to form sodium bromide (NaBr) and water (H2O).

The balanced chemical equation for this reaction is:

CBr4 + 4NaOH 4NaBr + CO2 + 2H2O

The resulting sodium bromide can be further processed into other bromine compounds.

Reaction with Acid

Carbon tetrabromide is stable in most acid solutions. However, when exposed to concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4), it forms a complex with one sulfuric acid molecule, resulting in the formation of SOBr4, carbon dioxide (CO2), and water (H2O).

The balanced chemical equation for this reaction is:

CBr4 + H2SO4 SOBr4 + CO2 + 2H2O

Reaction with Metal

Carbon tetrabromide can react with metals to form organometallic compounds. For example, it can react with magnesium (Mg) in the presence of a catalyst such as iodine (I2) or zinc (Zn) to form magnesium dibromide (MgBr2) and carbon.

The balanced chemical equation for this reaction is:

CBr4 + 2Mg + I2 2MgBr2 + C + I2

The resulting magnesium dibromide can be further used as a reagent or an intermediate in organic synthesis.


Industrial Uses

Carbon tetrabromide is widely used as a solvent in the processing of chemicals such as oils, fats, waxes, and resins. For example, it can be used to dissolve and purify iodinated radiopaque compounds used for medical imaging.

It is also used as a fire-resistant agent in plastics, textiles, and coatings. In this application, carbon tetrabromide acts as a halogenated flame retardant by breaking down the combustion cycle and inhibiting the production of toxic gases during fire.

Other Uses

Carbon tetrabromide plays a significant role in polymerization and vulcanization. In vulcanization, carbon tetrabromide is used as a curing agent for rubber.

The bromine atoms in carbon tetrabromide react with the double bonds in rubber molecules, resulting in the formation of cross-links that give rubber its elasticity and durability. In polymerization, it can be used as a source of bromine radicals for initiating the polymerization reaction.

In addition, carbon tetrabromide can also be used as a starting material for the synthesis of other halogenated organic compounds, such as perbromides and haloforms. These compounds are used in various applications, including disinfectants, insecticides, and laboratory reagents.


In summary, carbon tetrabromide is a versatile inorganic compound with a range of properties, classifications, reactions, and uses. Its reactivity with bases, acids, and metals enables it to participate in various organic synthesis pathways.

Its industrial and scientific applications include its use as a solvent and flame retardant, as well as in the polymerization and vulcanization of rubber. Consequently, carbon tetrabromide continues to be a crucial component of many manufacturing processes and research activities today.

Carbon tetrabromide is an important inorganic compound with versatile properties that find extensive use in a range of industrial and scientific applications. It exhibits unique physical, chemical, and molecular properties, and upon reactions, it forms salts, complexes, and organometallic compounds.

Its many industrial applications include flame-resistant coatings, solvent extraction, and polymerization, while in research, it is used in the synthesis of halogenated compounds and in other chemical reactions. Carbon tetrabromide remains an integral material in modern chemistry, and its study provides insights to improve our understanding of various processes at the molecular level.


1) What is carbon tetrabromide? Carbon tetrabromide is a colourless, heavy, and odourless inorganic compound with a tetrahedral molecular geometry containing four Br-Br covalent bonds and one central carbon atom.

2) What are the properties of carbon tetrabromide? Carbon tetrabromide has unique physical, molecular, and chemical properties, including high density, low solubility, thermal stability, and non-polarity.

3) What are the reactions of carbon tetrabromide? Carbon tetrabromide reacts with bases to form bromide salts, with concentrated sulfuric acid to form SOBr4, and with metals to form organometallic compounds.

4) What are the uses of carbon tetrabromide? Carbon tetrabromide finds uses as a solvent, flame-retardant, vulcanizing agent, monomer in polymerization, source of halogenated compounds, and reagent in organic synthesis.

5) What is the significance of carbon tetrabromide in modern chemistry? Carbon tetrabromide plays a significant role in modern chemistry by providing insights into molecular processes, discovering new synthetic pathways for organic compounds, and contributing to advances in industrial processes.

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