Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling, colorless gas used in making building materials and many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. It is also used to make other chemicals.
Formaldehyde is perhaps best known for its preservative and anti-bacterial properties, but formaldehyde-based chemistry is used to make a wide range of value-added products. Formaldehyde is one of the most well-studied and well-understood compounds in commerce.
Uses & Benefits
Formaldehyde is an essential building block chemical in the production of hundreds of items that improve everyday life. Little, if any, formaldehyde remains in the final products that consumers use.
Building and Construction
Formaldehyde-based resins are used to manufacture composite and engineered wood products used extensively in cabinetry, countertops, moldings, furniture, shelving, stair systems, flooring, wall sheathing, support beams and trusses and many other household furnishings and structures. Glues that use formaldehyde as a building block are exceptional bonding agents, delivering high-quality performance that is also economical.
The wood products industry uses formaldehyde-based resins in a wide range of panel and board products, enabling sustainable use of forestry resources and minimizing waste. For example, composite wood panels are typically made from recovered wood waste that might otherwise be burned or disposed of in a landfill.
Health Care Applications
Formaldehyde has a long history of safe use in the manufacture of vaccines, anti-infective drugs and hard-gel capsules. For example, formaldehyde is used to inactivate viruses so they don’t cause disease, such as the influenza virus in making the influenza vaccine.
Personal Care and Consumer Products
Formaldehyde-based chemistry is essential in the production of many personal care (1) and consumer items. These products may contain formaldehyde-releasing ingredients, which act as a preservative to kill microorganisms and prevent growth of bacteria and other pathogens, extending product shelf life.
Formaldehyde technology helps make vehicles lighter and more energy efficient. Formaldehyde-based resins are used to make interior molded components and under-the-hood components that need to withstand high temperatures. These resins are also used in the production of highly durable exterior primers, clear coat paints, tire-cord adhesives, brake pads and fuel system components.