Epichlorohydrin (abbreviated ECH) is an organochlorine compound and an epoxide. Despite its name, it is not a chlorohydrin. It is a colorless liquid with a pungent, garlic-like odor, moderately soluble in water, but miscible with most polar organic solvents. It is a chiral molecule generally existing as a racemic mixture of right-handed and left-handed enantiomers. Epichlorohydrin is a highly reactive compound and is used in the production of glycerol, plastics, epoxy glues and resins, and elastomers. In contact with water, epichlorohydrin hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, a carcinogen found in food.
Epichlorohydrin is a versatile precursor in the synthesis of many organic compounds. For example, it is converted to glycidyl nitrate, an energetic binder used in explosive and propellant compositions. The epichlorohydrin is reacted with an alkali nitrate, such as sodium nitrate, producing glycidyl nitrate and alkali chloride. It is used as a solvent for cellulose, resins, and paints, and it has found use as an insect fumigant.