What molecule am I?
Furfural, or furan-2-carbaldehyde, is an oily liquid formed when sugars from lignocellulosic biomasses such as corncobs, sawdust, and oat hulls dehydrate. This is a natural process that is the basis of the commercial production of furfural.
In the first half of the 19th century, chemists such as Johann W. Döbereiner at the University of Jena (Germany) and John Stenhouse at Glasgow University discovered furfural in the distillation products of various biomaterials. It did not become an industrial product until Quaker Oats (Chicago) began to produce it on a large scale from oat hulls.
Furfural, one of the earliest sustainable chemical feedstocks, is used to synthesize a wide range of industrial chemicals, including solvents, resins, plastics, and furan derivatives. As the hazard information table shows, it must be handled with an abundance of caution.
Furfural is one of several five-carbon oxygenated hydrocarbons that make up the aroma of canned pumpkin you might use to make your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Oddly, this odor differs significantly from that of the six-carbon compounds, such as former Molecule of the Week cis-3-hexen-1-ol, that emanates from freshly cut pumpkins.
Happy Thanksgiving from the MOTW team!
Furfural hazard information
|GHS classification*: flammable liquids, category 4|
|GHS classification: acute toxicity,oral, category 3|
|H301—Toxic if swallowed|
|GHS classification: acute toxicity, dermal, category 4|
|H312—Harmful in contact with skin|
|GHS classification: skin corrosion/irritation, category 2|
|H315—Causes skin irritation|
|GHS classification: serious eye damage/eye irritation, category 2A|
|H319—Causes serious eye irritation|
|GHS classification: acute toxicity,inhalation, category 2|
|H330—Fatal if inhaled|
|GHS classification: specific target organ toxicity, single exposure, respiratory tract irritation, category 3|
|H335—May cause respiratory irritation|
|GHS classification: carcinogenicity, category 2|
|H351—Suspected of causing cancer|
|GHS classification: hazardous to the aquatic environment, acute hazard, category 3|
|H402—Harmful to aquatic life|
|GHS classification: hazardous to the aquatic environment, long-term hazard, category 3|
|H412—Harmful to aquatic life with long-lasting effects|
**Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Explanation of pictograms.
Furfural fast facts
|CAS Reg. No.||98-01-1|
|Molar mass||96.08 g/mol|
|Appearance||Colorless oily liquid|
|Boiling point||162 ºC|
|Water solubility||83 g/L|
Learn more about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.
Molecule of the Week needs your suggestions!
If your favorite molecule is not in our archive, please send us a message. The molecule can be notable for its current or historical importance or for any quirky reason. Thank you!
Stay Ahead of the Chemistry Curve
Learn how ACS can help you stay ahead in the world of chemistry.