Chlorine Trifluoride

What is Chlorine Trifluoride?

Chlorine trifluoride (chemical formula: ClF3), is an almost colourless gas/white solid/pale green liquid. It has a sweet and suffocating smell. Chlorine trifluoride will explode on contact with water or organic material. 

What is Chlorine Trifluoride used for?

Chlorine fluoride is used in the semiconductor industry, nuclear fuel processing and as an oxidiser in propellants.

Chlorine trifluoride was considered to be used for military applications during World War II after tests showed it to be effective at starting fires, however it was never eventually used in the war. 

There have been attempts to use chlorine fluoride as a low-cost rocket fuel, however the volatility and risks associated with the chemical ruled it out. 
There have been attempts to use chlorine fluoride as a low-cost rocket fuel, however the volatility and risks associated with the chemical ruled it out. 

Chlorine Trifluoride Hazards

The routes of exposure for chlorine trifluoride include inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact.

Inhalation of chlorine trifluoride vapours may cause damage to the lungs, teeth, nose and throat. Symptoms can include dizziness, coughing, chest discomfort, headaches, weakness and nausea. Suffocation from vapours can result when the chemical replaces breathing air. 

Ingesting chlorine fluoride isn’t considered a likely route of entry because of its gaseous state, but it is still a possibility. Chlorine trifluoride can cause burns around the mouse throat and oesophagus causing pain and difficulty swallowing or speaking. 

Skin contact can cause chemical burns, swelling, serious crusting and other injuries. Entry into the bloodstream through open cuts or wounds may lead to other harmful effects as fluorides are easily absorbed through the skin, killing soft tissue and eroding bone. 

Direct eye contact may cause chemical burns and irritation. Similar to ingestion though, this isn’t very likely due to being a gas. 

Chlorine Trifluoride Safety

Swallowing chlorine trifluoride is not considered a likely route of poisoning. If this does occur, seek medical attention.

In the event of exposure to skin, remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories and flush the affected area with plenty of water. Seek medical attention immediately.

If eye exposure occurs, flush the eye with plenty of cool water for at least 15 minutes. Ensure the patient opens their eyelids fully to allow the substance to evaporate. The patient should not rub their eyes or tightly shut their eyes. Seek medical attention immediately. A follow up appointment with a doctor is recommended, even after vision has recovered and there is no longer any pain.

If inhaled, remove the person from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source and keep them warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, administer CPR (a bag-valve mask device is necessary to protect the health of the rescuer). Seek medical attention immediately.

Chlorine Trifluoride Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible nearby work areas. Proper ventilation is also required to ensure air contaminants are at controlled levels.  

The PPE recommended when handling chlorine trifluoride includes chemical goggles, full face shields (in addition to googles), neoprene gloves, overalls, PVC aprons/protective suits, air supplied breathing apparatus and safety footwear. 

Chlorine trifluoride is so volatile that it can explode on contact with practically anything. Ensure you are aware of the dangers before handling any new substances. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at for more information about our chemicals management solutions.