A colourless fuming liquid, PCl3; r.d. 1.57; m.p. –112°C; b.p. 75.5°C. It is soluble in ether and in carbon tetrachloride but reacts with water and with ethanol. It may be prepared by passing chlorine over excess phosphorus (excess chlorine contaminates the product with phosphorus(V) chloride). The molecule is pyramidal in the gas phase and possesses weak electron-pair donor properties. It is hydrolysed violently by water to phosphonic acid and hydrogen chloride. Phosphorus(III) chloride is an important starting point for the synthesis of a variety of inorganic and organic derivatives of phosphorus.