This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
This, the officinal solution, is formed by passing the gas through a wash-bottle into a receiver containing distilled water, which dissolves it.
The liquor chlori is slightly greenish in color, smelling strongly of the gas, and possessing its bleaching and disinfectant properties - sp. gr. 1.003. On evaporation it should leave no residue.
Under the influence of light, chlorine slowly decomposes water with production of hydrochloric acid and oxygen, and the solution then loses its characteristic properties. Hence the advantage of preparing it fresh for use, and the necessity of employing stoppered dark-colored bottles for preserving it. The hypochlorites of lime, soda, and potash owe their special properties to the presence of chlorine, and, as commonly met with, are mixtures of hypochlorites and chlorides, and are known by the name of the latter, as "chloride of lime," "chloride of soda," etc. A solution of the soda salt is known as "Eau de Labaraque," from the chemist who popularized it, and a solution of the potash salt is the "Eau de Javel" of Parisian laundries. Under the influence of feeble acids, e.g., the carbonic acid of the atmosphere, these salts evolve free chlorine until wholly decomposed.
The main chemical character of chlorine is its energetic affinity for hydrogen, which gas it will abstract both from its aqueous and gaseous combinations. In contact with organic substances it is inactive if they are quite dry, but if any moisture be present, nascent oxygen, or ozone, is liberated under the action of chlorine, and destroys or assists the combustion of the organic compound. A concentrated solution destroys the lower forms of organic life, and the gas brought into contact with sulphuretted hydrogen decomposes it, hydrochloric acid being formed, and sulphur precipitated. Hence chlorine is a good disinfectant and deodorant, but limited in its power, for after it has once caused the oxidation of organic matter, or become changed into hydrochloric acid, its disinfectant qualities are almost lost; also its strongly corrosive action limits its use.
Chlorine gas may be absorbed through the lungs, as proved by finding its odor in the brain after death from its inhalation (Cameron). A dilute solution when swallowed combines with the alkaline salts, either in the stomach or the blood, to form chlorides, and as such passes out, mainly by the kidneys. Husemann suggests that hydrochloric acid rather than chlorides may be formed from small doses.
The hypochlorites, decomposed in part by the gastric acid, give off free chlorine, and then passing into the circulation, are excreted as chlorides of potassium and sodium. Kletzinski ascertained this, and taking himself for a fortnight a daily dose of 60 gr. of "chloride of soda" (hypochlorite), found an increase of 30 to 40 gr. of sodium chloride in the urine (Canstatt: Jahrbucher, 1851, Bd. i.). Some amount of free chlorine would also seem to pass in that secretion, for after absorption of the gas (in a chlorine bath) Wallace found the urine to possess bleaching properties, though neutral to litmus paper.
Chlorine acts as an irritant, causing, when applied in vapor or strong solution to the skin, a sense of prickling, with perspiration, congestion, and sometimes erysipelatous, papular, or vesicular eruptions. Chlorine water long applied causes a fatty degeneration and peeling off of the upper layers of the cuticle (Bryk).
On denuded surfaces or mucous membranes the irritant effect is still more marked - the liquor sodae chloratae, for instance, if applied too strong to the throat or vagina, causes much discomfort. The vapor, if much diluted with air, may be breathed without other symptoms than a sense of heat and subsequent increase of expectoration; but, if breathed in full strength, it acts as a violent irritant to the respiratory tract, causing spasms of the glottis, convulsive cough, and a sense of severe constriction and suffocation. Death may follow from inhaling an atmosphere of only 1 per cent. chlorine, not from convulsive closure of the glottis, as formerly thought, but from the intense irritation excited, as shown during life by the pain, cough, bloody sputa, etc., and after death by the secretion in the finer bronchi, hepatization of lungs, and (seldom) tracheal croup (v. Hassell and Mulder, Eulenberg).
Some degree of toleration of chlorine may be established, for in bleaching works the men can remain many hours where a stranger is at once attacked with coughing and irritation.
The general systemic action of chlorine is that of a stimulant, more or less in degree, according to the quantity absorbed; and there is no sufficient evidence of the calmative properties described by Albers.
Brought into contact with blood-serum, it coagulates the albumen, loses its characteristic odor, and forms, after a time, hydrochloric acid. In animals dying under chlorine-inhalation, the blood becomes dark red, thick, and finely granular, from similar coagulation of albumen (Eulenberg). A solution injected into the jugular vein destroys life with symptoms of asphyxia, and the blood then also is found dark red, but fluid (Nysten).
In man, normal circulation and respiration are quickened under the moderate influence of chlorine. Husemann, however, states that in typhus fever the pulse and temperature become lower under it, and he connects such effect with conversion of the remedy into hydrochloric acid.
Antiseptics and deodorants.
In gaseous poisoning by chlorine chemical antidotes are - Sulphuretted hydrogen, which forms hydrochloric acid (itself, however, corrosive to the bronchi); ammonia, which forms a chloride of ammonium; and solutions of anilin (Husemann), which also coagulate albumen and are caustic. Probably the best remedy is steam inhalation.
Poisoning by the solution is best treated by albumen or milk with magnesia. Kastner says alcohol and sugar are useful. For medicinal purposes, prussic acid and vegetable-colored infusion should not be prescribed with it.
Liquor chlori: dose, 10 to 30 min., freely diluted. Vapor chlori (inhalation of chlorine): take of chlorinated lime 2 oz., water (cold), a sufficiency; put the powder into a suitable apparatus, moisten it with water, and let the vapor that arises be inhaled.
[Liquor chlori, Br. P. = Aqua chlorinii, U. S. P.]