: a colorless pungent irritating gas CH2O used chiefly as a disinfectant and preservative and in chemical synthesis
Simplest aldehyde, chemical formula HCHO. Formaldehyde (37%) in water solution, called formalin, is used as a preservative, an embalming agent, and a disinfectant. Large amounts of formaldehyde are used in the manufacture of various familiar plastics. Bakelite (the first completely synthetic plastic) is the trademark for formaldehyde and phenolpolymer, and Formica is the trademark for formaldehyde and urea polymer. The reaction of formaldehyde with proteins (called amino formylation) leads to its use in the tanning industry and for treating various vegetable proteins to render them fibrous.