iron(III) chloride

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A black-brown solid, FeCl3; hexagonal; r.d. 2.9; m.p. 306°C; decomposes at 315°C. It also exists as the hexahydrate FeCl3.6H2O, a brown-yellow deliquescent crystalline substance (m.p. 37°C; b.p. 280–285°C). Iron(III) chloride is prepared by passing dry chlorine over iron wire or steel wool. The reaction proceeds with incandescence when started and iron(III) chloride sublimes as almost black iridescent scales. The compound is rapidly hydrolysed in moist air. In solution it is partly hydrolysed; hydrolysis can be suppressed by the addition of hydrochloric acid. The compound dissolves in many organic solvents, forming solutions of low electrical conductivity: in ethanol, ethoxyethane, and pyridine the molecular weight corresponds to FeCl3 but is higher in other solvents corresponding to Fe2Cl6. The vapour is also dimerized. In many ways the compound resembles aluminium chloride, which it may replace in Friedel-Crafts reactions.

Subjects: Chemistry.

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