light yellow liquid
A colorless liquid with an acrid odor. Vapors irritate eyes and mucous membranes. Corrosive to metals and tissue. Long-term inhalation of low concentrations or short-term inhalation of high concentrations can result in adverse health effects.
Air & Water Reactions
Decomposes in moist air. Decomposes slowly in water to give corrosive hydrochloric acid and organic acids.
Inhalation causes mucous membrane irritation. Eyes are irritated by excessive exposure to vapor. Liquid causes severe irritation of eyes and irritates skin. Ingestion causes irritation of mouth and stomach.
In peptide synthesis to block the amino group.
The commercial material is usually better than 95% pure and may contain some toluene, benzyl alcohol, benzyl chloride and HCl. After long storage (e.g. two years at 4o, Greenstein and Winitz [The Chemistry of the Amino Acids Vol 2 p. 890, J Wiley and Sons NY, 1961] recommended that the liquid should be flushed with a stream of dry air, filtered and stored over sodium sulfate to remove CO2 and HCl which are formed by decomposition. It may further be distilled from an oil bath at a temperature below 85o because Thiel and Dent [Annalen 301 257 1898] stated that benzyloxycarbonyl chloride decarboxylates to benzyl chloride slowly at 100o and vigorously at 155o. Redistillation at higher vacuum below 85o yields material which shows no other peaks than those of benzyloxycarbonyl chloride by NMR spectroscopy. [Beilstein 6 IV 2278.] LACHRYMATORY and TOXIC.
Benzyl chloroformate decomposes slowly in water forming benzyl alcohol, HCl, and CO2. Gives off HCl fumes in moist air. Reacts with bases, both organic and inorganic. Attacks many metals especially in humid atmosphere [Handling Chemicals Safely 1980. p. 476]. Catalytic impurity incidents involving the iron catalyzed decomposition of benzoyl chloroformate have caused several explosions. The iron presumably comes from corrosion of steel storage tanks [Loss Prev. Bull., 1975, (003), 2]. May react vigorously or explosively if mixed with diisopropyl ether or other ethers in the presence of trace amounts of metal salts [J. Haz. Mat., 1981, 4, 291].