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Chloral hydrate, also known as trichloroacetaldehyde monohydrate, 2,2,2-trichloro-1,1-ethanediol, and under the tradenames Aquachloral, Novo-Chlorhydrate, Somnos, Noctec, and Somnote, is a sedative and hypnotic drug as well as a chemical reagent and precursor. Its chemical formula is C2H3Cl3O2.
It was discovered through the chlorination of ethanol in 1832 by Justus von Liebig in Gießen. It was widely abused and misprescribed in the late 19th century. Chloral hydrate is soluble in both water and alcohol, readily forming concentrated solutions. A solution of chloral hydrate in alcohol called "knockout drops" was used to prepare a Mickey Finn.
It is a minor side-product of the chlorination of water, concentrations rarely exceeding 5 micrograms per litre (µg/l).
Additional recommended knowledge
It is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia and as a sedative before minor medical or dental treatment. It was largely displaced by the mid-20th century by barbiturates  and subsequently by benzodiazepines. It was also formerly used in veterinary medicine as a general anesthetic. Today, it is commonly used as an ingredient in the veterinary anesthetic Equithesin.
In therapeutic doses for insomnia chloral hydrate is effective within sixty minutes, it is metabolized within 4 minutes into trichloroethanol by erythrocytes and plasma esterases and many hours later into trichloroacetic acid. Higher doses can depress respiration and blood pressure. An overdose is marked by confusion, convulsions, nausea and vomiting, severe drowsiness, slow and irregular breathing, cardiac arrhythmia and weakness. It may also cause liver damage and is moderately addictive, as chronic use is known to cause dependency and withdrawal symptoms. The chemical can potentiate various anticoagulants and is weakly mutagenic in vitro and in vivo.
The corresponding anhydrous aldehyde, chloral, is used as an intermediate in insecticide and herbicide manufacture (including DDT, dichlorvos, and naled). Chloral reacts rapidly with water to form chloral hydrate.
Chloral hydrate is now illegal in the United States without a prescription. Chloral hydrate is a schedule IV controlled substance in the United States. Its properties have sometimes led to its use as a date rape drug.
Chloral in fiction and film
1905 novel “The House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton ( source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/books/21wharton.html?em&ex=1195880400&en=b1704c2270ddd946&ei=5087%0A ) "Lily, honorable but not always smart in her decisions, has so fallen from her perch in New York society that she is living in a boarding house, and so broke that she needs to work for a living. She has quit one job, as secretary to a tasteless social climber, and has failed miserably at another, sewing for the fashionable milliner Mme. Regina, and to get through the nights has become addicted to chloral hydrate.
On the evening of her death, lonely and depressed, a step away from prostitution, she packs away her few remaining gowns and carefully settles her accounts, writing a check that will clear her last remaining debt, and then deliberately takes a larger dose than usual."
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chloral_hydrate". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|