Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Formaldehyde (formic or methyl aldehyde, or oxymethylene, CH20) is the first of the series of compounds known as aldehydes (q.v.). It is an unstable substance only existing as a gas or in dilute solutions, and is formed by the oxidation of methyl alcohol (CH40). It readily polymerises (i.e. forms more complex molecules of same percentage composition), yielding paraformaldehyde.

(CH20)3, a white solid melting at 171° C. It also changes into a polymer trioxymethylene (CH20)s, which melts at 60° C. It is noteworthy that from these polymers by a remarkable series of reactions, many of the sugars have been artificially prepared, and in connection with this also, the fact that formaldehyde is found in plant cells which contain chlorophyll seems one of interest.