Did you know, the serial number used to arrange elements in the Periodic Table is the atomic number of the elements? Thus, if we say that Chlorine is the 17th element on the Periodic Table, we mean that the element has an atomic number of 17, that is, the number of protons present in an atom of Chlorine is 17.
The element is quite fascinating. Did you know that Chlorine has been in use for many thousands of years, but pure Chlorine was produced/discovered by humankind only in the 18th century? In this article on Chlorine facts we are going to take a detailed look at the discovery, uses, and characteristics, and various other information on this ‘very important’ element. Are you ready? Of course, you are!
Before we jump into the facts, let us get some important information about the element at a glance.
|Element Family||Nonmetal and Halogen|
|Melting Point||-101˚C or 172 K|
|Boiling Point||-34˚C or 239 K|
|Density at 20˚C||0.003214 g/cm3|
|Number of Electrons||17|
|Number of Protons||17|
|Number of Neutrons (as found in most abundant isotope)||18|
|Electronic Configuration||1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p5|
|Known Isotopes||24 known isotopes of which only two are stable|
|Element Structure||Cl2 layers in solid form|
|Atomic Radius||100 pm|
|Hardness||Not Applicable (it is a gas)|
Isotopes of Chlorine
|Isotope Name||Type and Abundance||Half-Life (HL)|
|35Cl||Stable and 76% natural abundance||Stable and hence no Half Life|
|37Cl||Stable and 24% natural abundance||Stable and hence no Half Life|
|48Cl||Radioactive||100# ms [>200 ns]|
|49Cl||Radioactive||50# ms [>200 ns]|
|51Cl||Radioactive||2# ms [>200 ns]|
#: Data not derived from pure experimental data but partly derived from systematic trends.
(*): Value in parentheses [such as (15)] after the last digit represents uncertainties in a concise form. One standard deviation is represented by these uncertainty values.
Okay, we have some basic and yet vital information about Chlorine in tabular format, your long wait is over. We will jump straight into the facts.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 1-5 | History & Discovery
1. Did you know Chlorine is not new to humankind? We humans have been using this element since ancient times. Albeit, no one had any idea about the element or its compounds.
2. Sweden’s Carl Wilhelm Scheele was the first person who produced Chlorine. He did that in late 18th century. The exact year was 1774.
3. Scheele reacted ‘spiritus salis’ with ‘pyrolusite’ to produce Chlorine gas. Wondering what ‘spiritus salis’ and ‘pyrolusite’ are? Read on!
4. ‘Spiritus salis’ is nothing but Spirit of Salt. The weird name is an Alchemical term. Read more about ‘spiritus salis or salis spiritus’ here. ‘Pyrolusite’ on the other hand is Manganese Dioxide.
5. Did you know that ‘spiritus salis’ was once known by the name Muriatic Acid? Today, we know it as Hydrochloric Acid.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 6-10 | History & Discovery
6. Scheele collected the gas that was produced by the reaction between ‘spiritus salis,’ and ‘pyrolusite.’ Unfortunately, Scheele had no idea about the gas. He did not know that what he discovered was actually a new element.
7. Scheele ended up believing that the gas formed contained Oxygen in it.
8. Scheele observed a lot of interesting things about the new gas he managed to discover. The first thing he noticed was the suffocating smell that the gas emitted. According to Scheele, it was nearly oppressive to his lungs.
10. Scheele also noted that the gas has a yellow color. In his words, ‘the air in it acquires a yellow color…’
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 11-15 | History & Discovery
11. Carl Wilhelm Scheele noted that the gas he discovered was very reactive. The gas, he noted, was capable of attacking every metal.
12. Not just that, Scheele also saw that it reacted with fixed alkali forming common salt.
13. He noted that when insects came in contact with the gas, they immediately died.
14. Scheele also noted that every vegetable flower, irrespective of the color or the flower, turned white within a short time frame when they came in contact with the gas.
15. It really didn’t matter whether the color of the flower was yellow, or red, or blue. The gas managed to bleach every color.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 16-20 | History & Discovery
16. Everything that Scheele noted was accurate. However, he thought of the new gas to be Muriatic Acid’s dephlosgisticated form (deprived of Phlogiston).
17. There was so much confusion that Antoine Lavoisier – the famous French chemist – ended up believing that the new gas should be named as oxymuriatic acid (an oxide of Muriatic or Hydrochloric acid).
18. People were confused about the true identity of Chlorine. The source of this confusion was a theory known as Phlogiston Theory.
19. For the majority of the 1700’s, Phlogiston Theory was widely accepted by chemists around the world. Phlogiston was considered to be a substance.
20. What substance? A substance that was used to explain anything that scientists failed to explain. For example, if needed, Phlogiston could have negative weight. Also, scientists believed that Phlogiston was responsible for certain types of reactions like burning and rusting.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 21-25 | History & Discovery
21. Antoine Lavoisier, who himself was a victim of Phlogiston Theory, until he became the primary architect behind the destruction of the theory.
22. Lavoisier showed, through a series of experiments, that Oxygen’s chemistry was capable of explaining certain reactions compared to the explanations provided by Phlogiston.
23. But, Chlorine was still a mystery gas. By 1810, it was widely accepted by the scientific community that the gas the Scheele discovered was a compound in which Oxygen was present.
24. However, Sir Humphry Davy went against this accepted notion. He tried to make a charcoal electrode react with the new yellow-green gas. Unfortunately, the two did not react.
25. Because the intended reaction never took place, Sir Humphry Davy had to eventually believe that the gas does not contain Oxygen in it.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 26-30 | History & Discovery
26. In order to see whether the gas indeed contained Oxygen or not, he reacted the gas with ammonia and Phosphorus. Unfortunately, he did not get any Oxygen.
27. He again conducted experiments in which he used a huge battery (2000 plate voltaic pile) to extract Oxygen out of the Sulfur and Phosphorus compounds of the gas. That experiment failed to provide the intended results.
28. Eventually, Sir Humphry Davy concluded that the gas that Scheele discovered was not at all a compound.
29. Sir Day also concluded that the gas was no known element. It was actually a completely new element.
30. It was Sir Humphry Davy who named the new element (that Scheele discovered) as Chlorine. The name comes from ‘Chloros’ – a Greek word which means yellow-green or pale yellow.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 31-35 | Surprising Facts about Chlorine
31. One of the most surprising facts about Chlorine is that on Earth, it is the second-most-abundant halogen.
32. Chlorine is also the second-lightest halogen. The only halogen lighter than Chlorine is Fluorine.
33. Did you know that our oceans and seas collectively hold so much of Chlorine that if all the Chlorine were to be released as a gas, the total weight of the gas thus released would be 5 times more than the total weight of Earth’s atmosphere?
34. 1.9% of the total mass of water in oceans and seas of this plant comes from Chloride ions. This makes Chlorine the 3rd most abundant element in the oceans and seas of this planet.
35. When we look into the crust of the Earth, Chlorine is the 21st most abundant element.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 36-40 | Surprising Facts about Chlorine
36. Did you know that the chicken you eat in the US may have small amounts of Chlorine in it? This happens because the chicken carcasses that come out of the factories are dipped in Chlorine to get rid of any contamination caused by fecal matter.
37. Did you know that since Chlorine is toxic by nature, it was a common chemical weapon during World War I?
38. We know that ozone layer is important as it keeps our planet safe from harmful UV radiations of the Sun. But, did you know that Chlorine is responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer?
39. How bad is Chlorine for the ozone layer? How about one Chlorine atom destroying 100,000 molecules of ozone before the Chlorine atom goes out of stratosphere?
40. Swimming pools are amazing, right? But did you know that swimming pools are quite dirty and require water treatment? Chlorine comes in for rescue. As per the American Chemistry Council, at least 2 to 4 parts per million of this pale-yellow gas should be present in the waters of swimming pools.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 41-45 | Surprising Facts about Chlorine
41. Did you know there are some frogs in South America which have a special toxin in their skin? One of the atoms of this toxin is Chlorine atom. The toxin is quite potent. It is capable of paralyzing or even killing large animals.
42. These frogs are usually referred to as ‘poison-dart-frogs’ and it was once a common practice among Colombian tropical rainforest natives to rub the tips of their arrows on these frogs’ skin. Yes, the arrow tips were poisonous!
43. Chlorine can be poisonous even when someone is exposed to it for a very short span of time. Chlorine concentrations as low as 1 part per thousand in the air can lead to fatality.
44. We mentioned earlier that Chlorine was widely used during World War I. But, did you know that it was not really a successful chemical weapon? It was easy to detect because of its smell, and color.
45. Because Chlorine can dissolve in water, soldiers during WWI used to breath through damp clothes to protect themselves from the harmful effects of Chlorine.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 46-50 | Surprising Facts about Chlorine
46. Did you know that when Chlorine is released in the open air, it creates a poisonous blanket? This blanket drifts with the wind. The gas cannot disperse properly in the air because pure Chlorine is 2.5 times heavier than air.
47. The first ever use of Chlorine as a chemical weapon came from the German army in 1915. The Western Allies followed the suit shortly after.
48. Did you know that there is around 2.6 x 1016 metric tons of Chlorine present in our oceans and seas? Most of this Chlorine is present in form of Sodium Chloride, which is the commonest compound of Chlorine.
49. Did you know that Sodium Chloride is our common table salt? Did you know that there are pieces of evidence that humans, some 5,000 years ago, were using mined rock salt intentionally? Also, there are shreds of evidence that people used oceanic salt some 8,000 years ago.
50. The nuclear chain reaction was not the first chain reaction to be discovered. The first ever chain reaction was a chemical chain reaction.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 51-55 | Surprising Facts about Chlorine
51. It was Max Bodenstein who discovered the chemical chain reaction in 1913.
52. Bodenstein saw that a mixture of Hydrogen and Chlorine started an explosive reaction when light was used as a trigger.
53. Did you know that this chain reaction was eventually explained completely in 1918 by a person named Walther Nernst?
54. Did you know that one easy way of detecting leaking Chlorine containers is to use ammonia? Such leaking containers are dangerous because Chlorine is toxic. When ammonia and Chlorine come into contact, a white mist is formed near the leakage.
55. Did you know that Chlorine being denser than air has a tendency of settling down in foxholes, trenches, and other low-lying areas?
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 56-60 | Surprising Facts about Chlorine
56. Did you know that free Chlorine (elemental Chlorine) is difficult to find in nature? It will always combine with other elements to form a compound.
57. Did you know humans are capable of smelling Chlorine in the air in concentrations as low as 3.5 parts per million? Yes, it has a very strong odor!
58. Did you know that though Chlorine is toxic for humans, it is actually an essential element in the human body? It is the 9th most common element found in the human body.
59. Chlorine can be found majorly in the fluid present in our cells. It is present as a negative ion, and its primary function is to balance the positive ions, mostly Potassium ions.
60. Chlorine is also present in our blood, which is known as extracellular fluid (present outside the cells). There too, it is present in form of negative ions and its job is to balance positive ions (primarily Sodium ions).
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 61-65 | Properties of Chlorine
61. Chlorine is a toxic gas. It is an irritant to our eyes, respiratory system, and skin.
62. Chlorine gas is diatomic. This means that Chlorine does not exist in nature as Cl but it exists as Cl2. The gas has a greenish-yellow color, and it comes with a very strong bleach-like odor.
63. Chlorine can be converted into both solid and liquid forms. In both these forms, the element is known to be a very powerful disinfecting agent, an oxidizing agent, and a bleaching agent.
64. Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent because there are seven electrons in the outermost shell of the atom. This means that a Chlorine atom is 1 electron short of making a complete octet (as found in noble gases).
65. In order to complete the full octet, Chlorine reacts with almost every element. This property makes Chlorine a strong oxidizing agent.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 66-70 | Properties of Chlorine
66. Chlorine is a weak reducing agent. A reducing agent is a chemical that will donate electron(s) which an oxidizing agent is a chemical that will receive electron(s). Since Chlorine tends to receive an electron to complete the octet, it is a good oxidizing agent.
67. In its solid form, the element is known to form crystals. It solidifies by following the orthorhombic crystal system.
68. In its crystal form, the lattices of diatomic Chlorine molecules are arranged in layers.
69. Solid Chlorine is a very bad conductor of electricity. In fact, the electrical conductivity is so bad that one really cannot measure it practically.
70. Solid Chlorine becomes nearly colorless when the temperature is dropped down to -195˚C. Remember that Chlorine can become solid at a temperature of -150˚C.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 71-75 | Uses of Chlorine
71. One of the commonest uses of Chlorine is that of making drinking water safe.
72. There are many Chlorine compounds that are commonly used in various products like solvents, paints, food, insecticides, antiseptics, plastics, and even medicines.
73. Chlorinated compounds are commonly used for textile processing, disinfectants, pulp bleaching, and sanitation.
74. One of the major uses of Chlorine is that of manufacturing chlorates. In organic chemistry, Chlorine is used for making synthetic rubber, chloroform, polyvinyl chloride, tetrachloride, etc.
75. 36Cl – one of the radioactive isotopes of Chlorine with a Half-Life of 301,000 years – is commonly used for rock and ice sample dating.
Remarkable Chlorine Facts: 76-80 | Some Random Chlorine Facts
76. Chlorine is so highly electronegative that it reacts with almost every element to form chlorides.
77. There are more than 2,000 naturally-occurring organic compounds of Chlorine.
78. When Chlorine gas enters or comes in contact with human body, it reacts with mucous membrane. This can lead to skin burns.
79. A few deep breaths of Chlorine gas at the concentration of 1 part per thousand or 1000 parts per million is enough to kill a human.
80. The name that Carl Wilhelm Scheele (discoverer of Chlorine) gave to the element was Muriaticum.
This completes our list of facts on Chlorine element facts. In case you want to add a few more or you stop an error somewhere in this article, drop us a comment or send us a mail.