Camphor Formula (C10H16O): Properties, Extraction, Side Effects
• Written By Ankita Sahay
• Written By Ankita Sahay

# Camphor Formula: Structure, Properties, Uses

Camphor Formula: Camphor or Cinnamomum camphora, is an organic compound widely used for both medicinal properties. It is an aromatic, unsaturated, volatile ketone that belongs to the ‘Terpene’ group of organic compounds. The molecular formula of camphor is $${{\rm{C}}_{10}}{{\rm{H}}_{16}}{\rm{O}}$$. Its IUPAC name is $${\rm{1,}}\,{\rm{7,}}\,{\rm{7}}$$-Trimethylbicyclo $${\rm{[2}}{\rm{.2}}{\rm{.1]}}$$ heptan-$$2$$-one.

Camphor is available in nature from the bark and leaves of a tree Cinnamomum camphora, native to China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Camphor oil or Turpentine oil is extracted and processed through steam distillation. Camphor is also synthetically produced by a sequence of chemical reactions. Because of Camphor’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, it relieves pain and treats skin ailments. In this article, we will learn about the entire chemistry of Camphor and its importance in our daily life.

## Camphor Formula and Structure

Camphor is a cyclic monoterpene ketone bearing “Bornane,” a fundamental terpenoid. The chemical formula of camphor is $${{\rm{C}}_{10}}{{\rm{H}}_{16}}{\rm{O}}$$. Its IUPAC name is $${\rm{1,}}\,{\rm{7,}}\,{\rm{7}}$$-Trimethylbicyclo $${\rm{[2}}{\rm{.2}}{\rm{.1]}}$$ heptan-$$2$$-one. Other names of camphor are $$2$$-Camphanone; $$2$$-Dehydrocamphor; $$2$$-Keto-$${\rm{1,}}\,{\rm{7,}}\,{\rm{7}}$$-trimethylnolcamphane; $${\rm{d}}/{\rm{l}} – 2$$-Bornanone. It is an optically active compound, as it exists as an enantiomeric mixture having both $${\rm{‘d’}}$$ and $${\rm{‘l’}}$$ forms where $${\rm{‘d’}}$$ stands for ‘dextro-rotatory’ compound and $${\rm{‘l’}}$$ stands for ‘leavo-rotatory’ compound.

Camphor was one of the first plant metabolites isolated from the woods of camphor trees in the $${18^{{\rm{th}}}}$$ century. Later, many synthetic methods were also introduced to prepare camphor. It is a volatile compound, thus can be extracted by sublimation. It is a highly flammable, waxy compound.

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### Extraction of Camphor Oil

Camphor is a waxy, crystalline solid with a strong aromatic scent. It is also used as an oil due to its aroma. Camphor oil is extracted by steam distillation from camphor tree woodchips, roots, and branches (Cinnamomum camphora). After distillation, the collected extract is rectified under vacuum and filter pressed.

### Uses of Camphor

Due to its sublimating property and aromatic fragrance, camphor is widely used in different fields. Let us discuss its uses one by one:

#### 1. Uses of Camphor as Medicines

Camphor has lots of medicinal values:

1. Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic: It has anti-inflammatory properties and is a core ingredient in balms, vapour rubs, etc. It is used to relieve irritation, itching, and pain to reduce inflammatory conditions and chest congestion. Once applied in the form of an ointment, it gets absorbed in the skin epidermis, and we feel a cool or warm sensation where it stimulates the nerve endings that induces slight local analgesia and gives relief from pain.
2. Camphor is often used as an aerosol. We use vapour rub, typically by steam inhalation or nebuliser treatment, to cure coughing and relieve the upper respiratory tract congestion because of the common cold or bronchitis.
3. Camphor is also used as a respiratory stimulant for horses to treat breathing difficulties.
4. Over centuries, the camphor compound has been used in traditional medicine mainly as a decongestant and treats swellings, inflammation, and sprains.

#### 2. As an Anti-microbial Agent

Camphor is used to fight against many pathogenic microorganisms. It has antiviral, antibacterial properties that help treat diseases caused by them. Due to its antimicrobial activity, camphor oil was also one of the main ingredients in preserving dead human bodies by early Egyptians for mummification.

#### 3. As an Insecticide

1. Camphor is one of the best natural mosquito repellents used in the form of incense sticks or smoke from crystals to drive mosquitoes out by its odour and toxicity. It is also used as a cockroach repellent.
2. Camphor is also kept with clothes to avoid the growth of tiny insects when stored for a long time.
3. Camphor oil is used as a fumigant against the red fire ants because it affects their climbing, attacking, and feeding behaviour.

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#### 4. Use in the Prevention of Rust

Solid camphor is kept in the tool chest to protect against rust as it releases fumes that form a protective covering; as a result, it prevents exposure of metal to air and moisture that minimises the risk of rusting.

#### 5. Use in Perfume

1. As camphor has an aromatic fragrance, it was widely used as a perfume in the ancient era, mainly in Arabic and Chinese perfumery.
2. Camphor oil is also used in scented candles. As we set fire to these candles, the fumes that come from them diffuse all over the place and spread their fragrance.

#### 6. Camphor as Plasticiser

A plasticiser is a substance added to the synthetic resin to make plastic more flexible and reduce its brittleness. Camphor was the first plasticiser used in cellulose nitrate, nitrocellulose lacquers, and other lacquers and plastics.

### Side Effects of Camphor

1. If camphor is taken in higher doses, it produces symptoms of disorientation, lethargy, muscle spasms, irritability, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and convulsions. In adults, two grams of camphor cause serious toxicity, whereas four grams prove to be potentially lethal.
2. We are often advised not to heat balms, Vicks, etc. These products contain camphor, and on heating, they may catch fire or explode and cause accidents.
3. If inhaled in large quantities, Camphor vapour products may be toxic, causing dizziness, vomiting, irritation, etc.
4. If undiluted camphor products are applied to the skin, it may cause skin redness and a burning sensation.

#### Summary

Camphor is a cyclic monoterpene ketone that belongs to the terpenoid. The chemical formula of camphor is $${{\rm{C}}_{10}}{{\rm{H}}_{16}}{\rm{O}}$$. Its IUPAC name is $${\rm{1,}}\,{\rm{7,}}\,{\rm{7}}$$-Trimethylbicyclo $${\rm{[2}}{\rm{.2}}{\rm{.1]}}$$ heptan-$$2$$-one, and it is also known as $$2$$-Camphonone; $$2$$-Dehydrocamphor; $$2$$-Keto-$${\rm{1,}}\,{\rm{7,}}\,{\rm{7}}$$-trimethylnolcamphane; $${\rm{DL}} – 2$$-Bornanone. It is an optically active compound, as it exists as an enantiomer having both $$‘{\rm{D}}’$$ and $$‘{\rm{L}}’$$ forms.

Camphor is extracted from the bark and leaves of a tree, Cinnamomum camphora, primarily found in China, Taiwan, Korea, etc. Extraction of camphor follows distillation and sublimation. Since the pre-historic era, camphor has been used for its medicinal values and fragrance. It exists as white, translucent crystals and is highly flammable.

Camphor has a wide range of applications, including medicinal uses as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic in balms to relieve pain and swelling. It is a natural insect repellent. Camphor is used in perfumery because of its aroma. As a result, it is possible to conclude that camphor is an essential natural organic compound.

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### FAQs on Camphor Formula

Let us look at some of the commonly asked questions about Camphor formula:

Q.1. Is camphor basic or acidic?
Ans:
On oxidation, camphor is oxidised to an acid known as camphoric acid.

Q.2. Is camphor absorbed by the body?
Ans:
Yes, camphor is absorbed by the body. It gets rapidly absorbed from the skin and gastrointestinal tract. If applied in large quantities, toxic effects can occur within minutes of exposure and may cause abdominal distress, excitement, dizziness, followed by CNS depression and other serious effects also.

Q.3. Can you drink water after drinking camphor?
Ans:
Yes, we can drink water after drinking camphor as camphor is very volatile and can vaporise. It forms a layer upon water and gives a cooling effect also in case of acidity.

Q.4. Does camphor help in the cold?
Ans:
Camphor is often used as an aerosol. For example, we use Vicks vapour rub, typically by steam inhalation or nebuliser treatment, to cure coughing and to relieve the upper respiratory tract congestion because of the common cold or bronchitis.

Q.5. How bad is camphor for you?
Ans:
When taken in large quantities, camphor proves to be toxic as it produces symptoms of disorientation, lethargy, muscle spasms, irritability, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and convulsions. In adults, two grams of camphor cause serious toxicity, whereas four grams prove to be potentially lethal.