Methylene chloride is a colorless liquid with a mild, sweet odor. Another name for it is dichloromethane.
It does not occur naturally in the environment. It's made from methane gas
or wood alcohol
. It's widely used as a solvent in paint strippers, as a propellant in aerosols, and as a process solvent in the manufacturing of drugs
. It's also used as a metal cleaning and finishing solvent.
Most methylene chloride gets in the environment from its use in industry and from home use of aerosols
and paint removers. Because of concern over the health effects, its use in aerosols has declined.
Methylene chloride is approved as an extraction solvent for spices and hops. It used to be popular for removing caffeine
from coffee via the European Process
, but most coffee producers no longer use it, instead preferring the swiss water process