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Naphthalene vs. Camphor: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Naphthalene is an aromatic hydrocarbon used as a moth repellent, while Camphor is a terpenoid with medicinal and aromatic uses.
Naphthalene vs. Camphor

Key Differences

Naphthalene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon consisting of two fused benzene rings, making it a simpler molecule. In contrast, Camphor, a terpenoid, has a more complex structure with a bicyclic ring, a ketone group, and an isopropyl group.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 09, 2023
Naphthalene is widely used as a moth repellent and in the production of other chemicals. Camphor, on the other hand, is known for its medicinal properties, particularly as a topical pain reliever, and is also used in religious ceremonies and as a fragrance.
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Dec 09, 2023
Naphthalene appears as white, volatile crystals with a strong, characteristic odor. Camphor is also crystalline but is distinguished by its strong, aromatic odor and is slightly more volatile.
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Dec 09, 2023
Naphthalene is considered more hazardous, with potential carcinogenic and toxic effects, especially in high concentrations. Camphor is relatively safer but can be toxic if ingested in large quantities.
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Dec 09, 2023
Naphthalene is primarily derived from coal tar or petroleum. Camphor, historically obtained from the camphor laurel tree, is now mostly synthesized from turpentine oil.
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Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure

Two fused benzene rings
Bicyclic terpenoid with ketone and isopropyl groups
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Primary Use

Moth repellent, chemical production
Medicinal (topical pain reliever), religious, fragrance
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Physical Appearance

White crystalline substance
White crystalline substance with strong aroma
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Health and Safety

Potentially carcinogenic and toxic
Toxic in high doses, safer in small quantities
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Source

Derived from coal tar or petroleum
Historically from camphor laurel, now mostly synthesized from turpentine
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Naphthalene and Camphor Definitions

Naphthalene

A white crystalline substance with a strong odor, used as a moth repellent.
The storage room smelled of naphthalene, keeping the moths away.
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Nov 24, 2023

Camphor

A natural compound found in the wood of the camphor laurel tree.
Traditional medicine often used camphor, sourced from the camphor tree.
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Nov 24, 2023

Naphthalene

An ingredient in various chemical reactions, particularly in organic synthesis.
The laboratory experiment involved the use of naphthalene in a synthesis reaction.
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Nov 24, 2023

Camphor

A substance used in religious ceremonies and as an insect repellent.
The temple air was filled with the scent of burning camphor.
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Nov 24, 2023

Naphthalene

A compound used in the production of dyes, resins, and synthetic fibers.
Naphthalene is essential in creating certain dyes for the textile industry.
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Camphor

A white, crystalline substance with a strong, aromatic odor, used medicinally.
The ointment contained camphor, known for its pain-relieving properties.
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Nov 24, 2023

Naphthalene

A substance considered potentially hazardous and carcinogenic.
Due to its toxic nature, handling naphthalene requires safety precautions.
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Nov 24, 2023

Camphor

A compound that can be toxic if ingested in large amounts.
Although useful, camphor must be used carefully due to its potential toxicity.
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Nov 24, 2023

Naphthalene

A volatile aromatic hydrocarbon derived from coal tar or petroleum.
The industrial plant processed naphthalene as a by-product of coal tar.
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Nov 24, 2023

Camphor

A fragrant white or colorless crystalline ketone, C10H16O, obtained naturally from the wood of the camphor tree or synthesized from pinene and used as an insect repellent, in the manufacture of film, plastics, lacquers, and in medicine chiefly in external preparations to relieve mild pain and itching.
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Naphthalene

A white crystalline aromatic compound, C10H8, derived from coal tar or petroleum and used in manufacturing dyes, moth repellents, and explosives and as a solvent. Also called tar camphor.
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Camphor

(organic compound) A white transparent waxy crystalline isoprenoid ketone, 1,7,7-trimethylbicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-one, with a strong pungent odour, used in pharmacy.
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Naphthalene

A white crystalline hydrocarbon manufactured from coal tar; used in mothballs.
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Oct 19, 2023

Camphor

A tough, white, aromatic resin, or gum, obtained from different species of the Laurus family, esp. from Cinnamomum camphara (the Laurus camphora of Linnæus.). Camphor, C10H16O, is volatile and fragrant, and is used in medicine as a diaphoretic, a stimulant, or sedative.
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Naphthalene

(organic compound) An aromatic bicyclic hydrocarbon, C10H8; an acene containing two fused benzene rings.
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Oct 19, 2023

Camphor

Originally, a gum resembling ordinary camphor, obtained from a tree (Dryobalanops aromatica formerly Dryobalanops camphora) growing in Sumatra and Borneo; now applied to its main constituent, a terpene alcohol obtainable as a white solid C10H18O, called also Borneo camphor, Malay camphor, Malayan camphor, camphor of Borneo, Sumatra camphor, bornyl alcohol, camphol, and borneol. The isomer from Dryobalanops is dextrorotatory; the levoratatory form is obtainable from other species of plants, and the racemic mixture may be obtained by reduction of camphor. It is used in perfumery, and for manufacture of its esters. See Borneol.
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Oct 19, 2023

Naphthalene

A white crystalline aromatic hydrocarbon, C10H8, analogous to benzene, and obtained by the distillation of certain bituminous materials, such as the heavy oil of coal tar. It is the type and basis of a large number of derivatives among organic compounds. Formerly called also naphthaline.
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Oct 19, 2023

Camphor

To impregnate or wash with camphor; to camphorate.
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Oct 19, 2023

Naphthalene

A white crystalline strong-smelling hydrocarbon made from coal tar or petroleum and used in organic synthesis and as a fumigant in mothballs
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Oct 19, 2023

Camphor

A resin obtained from the camphor tree; used in making celluloid and liniment
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Oct 19, 2023

Camphor

A terpenoid with a cooling sensation, used in topical skin applications.
The cooling effect of the camphor was immediate upon applying the cream.
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Nov 24, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can naphthalene be naturally sourced?

Naphthalene is typically derived from coal tar or petroleum, not from natural sources.
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Dec 09, 2023

Is naphthalene dangerous?

Naphthalene can be dangerous, especially if inhaled in large quantities, and is considered potentially carcinogenic.
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Dec 09, 2023

Is naphthalene environmentally friendly?

Naphthalene poses environmental concerns due to its toxicity and potential to pollute.
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Dec 09, 2023

Is camphor safe for skin application?

Camphor is generally safe for topical application in small, diluted amounts.
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Dec 09, 2023

What are the physical properties of naphthalene?

Naphthalene appears as white, volatile crystals with a strong, characteristic odor.
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Is camphor natural or synthetic?

Camphor can be both; it's naturally found in the wood of the camphor laurel tree but is often synthetically produced.
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Dec 09, 2023

Does camphor have a distinct smell?

Yes, camphor is known for its strong, aromatic odor.
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Dec 09, 2023

What is naphthalene commonly used for?

Naphthalene is commonly used as a moth repellent and in chemical manufacturing.
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Dec 09, 2023

Can camphor be ingested?

Camphor should not be ingested as it can be toxic in large quantities.
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Dec 09, 2023

Are there any common products containing naphthalene?

Mothballs and certain insect repellents often contain naphthalene.
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Dec 09, 2023

What are the risks associated with camphor use?

The main risks of camphor use include toxicity if ingested and skin irritation in some individuals.
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How does naphthalene affect human health?

Naphthalene can affect human health by causing respiratory issues and is potentially carcinogenic.
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What is camphor used for?

Camphor is used for medicinal purposes, in religious ceremonies, and as a fragrance.
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Dec 09, 2023

How is camphor sourced commercially?

Commercial camphor is mostly synthesized from turpentine oil.
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Can camphor be used in cooking?

Camphor is not typically used in cooking due to its strong taste and potential toxicity.
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Is camphor environmentally hazardous?

Camphor is not significantly environmentally hazardous, but its production and disposal should be managed responsibly.
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What makes naphthalene effective as a moth repellent?

Naphthalene's strong odor and volatile nature make it effective in repelling moths.
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Dec 09, 2023

Can naphthalene be used in households safely?

Naphthalene can be used safely in households if well-ventilated and kept away from children and pets.
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Dec 09, 2023

Can camphor be used in aromatherapy?

Yes, camphor is sometimes used in aromatherapy for its distinct fragrance and perceived therapeutic benefits.
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Dec 09, 2023

Are there alternatives to naphthalene for moth prevention?

Yes, alternatives like cedar wood, lavender, and certain chemical repellents are available.
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Dec 09, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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