Is CHCl3 a polar or nonpolar substance?

Trichloromethane, the IUPAC designation for CHCl3, is an organic chemical. The name chloroform is also used to describe it. It’s a colorless, thick liquid with a pleasant aroma. Many of you may have doubts about whether or not CHCl3 is polar. I’ll address this question and explain its qualities and applications in this essay.

Is CHCl3 polar or nonpolar, then? Because of its tetrahedral molecular shape and the difference in electronegativity of C, H, and CL, CHCl3 is polar. Chlorine atoms are more electronegative than carbon and hydrogen atoms, and they are located at three of the pyramid’s vertices, pulling the negative charge in their direction, resulting in a polar molecule with a downward dipole.

Chloroform is a highly reactive chemical that interacts with light and air to produce the toxic gas carbonyl chloride, sometimes known as phosgene. During World War II, this gas was used to kill people.

As a result, chloroform should be stored in dark, tightly closed bottles up to the brim. It’s also regarded as a strong anesthetic.

CHCl3 has a molecular mass of 119.37 gmol1. It is possible to compute it as follows:

CHCl3 mol mass = 1 * 12 (mol mass of C) + 1 * 1 (mol mass of H) + 3 * 35.4 (Mol mass of Cl)

= 119.37 g·mol−1

CHCl3 has one carbon atom, one hydrogen atom, and three chlorine atoms in its chemical makeup.

The core atom of the CHCl3 molecule is carbon, which is surrounded by hydrogen and chlorine atoms. The molecule has a tetrahedral form, with hydrogen at the top and chlorine atoms at three vertices in the pyramid’s base.

All four bonds are single covalent, and electronic arrangement stabilizes all atoms.

Hydrogen has an electronegativity of 2.2, chlorine has a value of 3.16, and carbon has a value of 2.55. As a result, polar C-H and C-Cl bonds exist.

Carbon draws the negative charge (electrons) to its side in the C-H bond, whereas chlorine pulls the negative charge (electrons) to its side in the C-Cl bond because chlorine is more electronegative than carbon.

The charge distribution on the atoms of the CHCl3 molecule is asymmetrical due to unequal electronegativity and tetrahedral geometrical form.

The contents are as follows:

Molecules that are Polar vs. Molecules that are Nonpolar

A molecule’s polarity can be determined by considering a number of parameters. Covalently bound molecules can be both polar and nonpolar in nature. Let’s look at the differences between polar and nonpolar molecules.

Polar Molecules: Polar molecules have a dipole moment value that is not zero, indicating that they have a permanent dipole moment.

The charge distribution in these compounds is not uniform across the molecule. Atoms in these compounds have different electronegativity levels.

When the electronegativity of two atoms differs, the covalent bond formed between them tends to be polar.

Polar molecules’ geometry is deformed, i.e. asymmetric, resulting in an uneven charge distribution.

In most situations, the geometrical shape of these molecules is symmetric. HCN, SF4, and other polar compounds are examples.

You can look into the explanation for SF4’s polarity.

Nonpolar Molecules: These molecules have a dipole moment of zero at all times. The charge distribution in these molecules is uniform.

The electronegativity of the atoms in these compounds is identical, i.e. they have the same effect on the bonded electron pair.

When two atoms have similar electronegativity, their covalent connection tends to be nonpolar.

In most situations, the geometrical shape of these molecules is symmetric. CS2, CO2, and other nonpolar compounds are examples.

You can look into the reason for CS2’s non-polarity.

What makes CHCl3 polar?

Because of the reasons listed below, chloroform or trichloromethane is polar.

The polarity of molecules refers to the presence of two opposing poles, i.e., negative and positive poles.

The atom with the highest intensity of negative charge becomes the negative pole in a chemical covalent connection, whereas another atom becomes the positive pole.

Because chlorine is more electronegative than hydrogen and carbon in CHCl3, its electron density rises and it becomes a negative pole, while hydrogen and carbon are positive poles.

Furthermore, the form of CHCl3 is tetrahedral, with carbon on top and chlorine atoms at three of the pyramid’s vertices.

As a result, each of the three chlorine atoms produces a net dipole that points downward. Chloroform is thus a polar chemical.

How do you determine a molecule’s polarity?

If you want to check a molecule’s polarity, make a list of the following points.

The term electronegativity refers to an atom’s ability to attract a bound electron pair to one of its sides. The stronger an atom’s electronegativity, the stronger it pulls the electron.

When the electronegativity of two atoms making a covalent connection differs, the bond is more likely to be polar.

The difference in electronegativity is precisely proportional to the polarity of a covalent bond.

To determine the extent of polarity, you must record the electronegativity of each atoms and compare them.

Geometrical shape: A molecule’s shape is also an essential aspect in determining its polarity.

Polar molecules are commonly observed to have an asymmetric structure, resulting in an uneven distribution of charge across their atoms.

Nonpolar molecules, on the other hand, have a symmetrical form.

The geometrical three-dimensional structure of the CHCl3 molecule is shown below.

The dipole moment of a molecule is a measurement of its polarity. The dipole moment is exactly proportional to a molecule’s polarity.

It’s the difference between the centers of positive and negative charges multiplied by the charges on atoms.

Its SI unit is the Debye, which is represented by the letter D.

Q * R = D

CHCl3’s Characteristics

It is a white liquid with a sweet odor at room temperature.

It has a density of 1.489 g/cm3 at 25 degrees Celsius.

It has a melting point of 63.5 degrees Celsius (82.3 degrees Fahrenheit) and a boiling point of 61.15 degrees Celsius (142.07 degrees Fahrenheit).

It is water soluble. At 20 °C, its solubility in water is 8.09 g/L.

CHCl3 has a vapor pressure of 25.9 kPa at 25 °C.

Its acidity is 15.7 PKA at 20 °C.

Chloroform has a tetrahedral molecular structure.

CHCl3’s Applications

Alkaloids, iodine, lipids, and other compounds can all be dissolved in chloroform.

Chloroform is commonly used in the production of refrigerant gases such as Freon R-22. This gas is found in electronic devices such as refrigerators and air conditioners.

This is also utilized in medicine, such as as an anesthetic during surgical procedures.

Chloroform creates phosgene, a toxic gas, when exposed to air and light.


Chloroform is made up of one carbon atom, one hydrogen atom, and three chlorine atoms arranged in a tetrahedral structure. Three vertices of the pyramid’s base contain chlorine atoms.

Because chlorine’s electronegative is greater than that of hydrogen and carbon, it pulls the negative charge slightly to one side.

As a result, the dipole begins to point downward, forming a polar CHCl3 molecule.

So, if you have any questions about CHCl3’s polarity, feel free to post them in the comments area. I’ll contact you as soon as possible.

Read more: Polar or nonpolar, is HCN?

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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